Ignorance and hate are killing America! While the black man blames the white man, and the white man points back at the black man, America trembles under racial siege on the brink of self-inflicted collapse as a nation. As a people, we appear helpless to turn the tide, but if America is to survive someone must be willing to step forward and initiate the healing process. Someone with courage must take that first leap of faith to right our great nation.
Our obsession with judging our fellow man rather than trying to understand him as well as our penchant for creating smokescreens to cover the real issues are ripping out our hearts and trampling our souls. We live in an enlightened time, yet we stand guard at the gates of yesterday protecting a past that has little to offer but distrust, anger, hurt, and alienation from our fellow man. We live in a society of non-discriminatory intolerance. We live in a society often unwilling to acknowledge the truth behind its sins or that it has sinned. As a people, we are quick to cast blame but slow to take responsibility. Regardless of the color of our skin, we have embraced intolerance to the point that it has become our norm, and it is that intolerance that now lays siege to all we love and care for as a nation.
America does not have a black and white issue. America has a distrust issue resulting in the disenfranchisement of both blacks and whites from reaching an amicable understanding and solution to their problems. Inevitably, the omission of trust leads blacks and whites alike to resentment of one another and even to violence. As a country, distrust permeates every aspect of our lives. We distrust anyone who has a different lifestyle, different belief, different skin color or different ethnic background. We would rather alienate someone outside our understanding than risk contamination by a new understanding. We would rather cling to the past than risk the uncertainty of embracing a new future. We would rather desperately hang on to dead ideologies than to open our minds to healthier more altruistic ideas. We would rather sacrifice our future and the future of our children than acknowledge the soiled truths of the past. We would rather defiantly rally behind a symbol that stands contrary to the civil rights of all men than exercise tolerance and understanding.
I have long regarded criticism of the Confederate flag as an injustice that was little more than a smokescreen or scapegoat for much graver issues, and I admit, I still hold to that opinion to a great degree. I believe it is simple minded madness to advocate pulling down historical memorials, monuments, name sakes, and individual freedoms that can be linked to the Confederate cause or any other offending historical cause, to do so is to eradicate history, which is a dangerous disservice to all. However, I believe removing a divisive symbol from local and state government institutions established to represent and serve all people is not too much to ask. Therefore, I am of the opinion that the debate over the Confederate flag has been ongoing for too long, and it is time for resolution. It is time we recognized that any injustice directed at the stars and bars pales to the injustices it symbolizes for many fellow Americans. Regardless of where you stand on the flag issue, the distrust and division the Confederate flag has caused in race relationships in America is unquestionable.
I have said this before, but racism in America goes a lot deeper than a flag or even the color of a person’s skin. Racism in this country is an adult disease without regard for race or class that is forced on our children who in turn become adults and force it upon their children. This perpetual cycle of collective cultural ignorance exists in our communities, our schools, our churches, and our government, but although it grows and is often allowed to fester in these places, none of these is the root of its ugly beginnings. Racism begins at home with the mamas, daddies, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who intentionally, unintentionally, or out of ignorance feed it to children. Children are not born into this world hating! Children are not born into this world caring if another person’s skin is white or black! Children are born into the world only with the imprint of God on their souls. It takes a misguided nurturer to wipe that from them and replace it with hate and prejudice. The homes of black and white Americans alike are where racism is cultivated, massaged, nurtured, and molded into the disease that now threatens the very existence of our great country.
I am not black, so for me to say I completely understand the black man’s feelings toward the Confederate flag would be untrue, but even as a white man, I can see the hurt, distrust and division this symbol of the past causes so many black men and women. Although I am a proud Mississippian who sees the Confederate flag as a symbol of the valor of men who fought and died for a way of life in which they believed, I am not proud that way of life included enslaving people due to the color of their skin. Slavery in any form is wrong and condoning it even as a part of heritage is a slap in the face to all that is decent and right. For that reason, the time has come to lay our past to rest.
The time has come to remove the Confederate flag from our local and state government buildings. Such an action will not resolve racial tensions in this country, but maybe it will act as a sign that at least in the South, we are finally ready to embrace the future rather than the past. To help right America, it will take the iconic courage of Southerners to take a leap of faith and show the rest of the nation that we are ready to find a way to live with our fellow human beings regardless of the color of their skin. God blessed many of us to be born Southerners and for a select few, he blessed us as Mississippians, but he blessed all of us as Americans. It is time to stand together as Americans and not stand divided by the color of our skin or by ideologies that no longer matter. It is time for the South to rise again, not in defiance, but in compassion for our fellow man. We do not have the means or the power to right the wrongs of the past, but we do have the means and power to lay aside the past and live together as brothers.
©Jack Linton, June 26, 2015