The Art of War: Contemplating The Meaning of The Confederate Battle Flag
by: Notai Washington
Although, the flag has finally come down in South Carolina less than thirty minutes ago, please remember that this act does not reflect a change in the racial consciousness for the masses of white residents in this state. The removal of the flag does not dismantle racism white supremacy nor has this gesture disrupted the racial ideologies the confederate battle flag represents. For example, South Carolina and Alabama's removal of the confederate flag from the grounds of its state capital is equivalent to Ku Klux Klan members trading in their regalia for business suits, judge robes, and law enforcement uniforms covertly carrying out the aim and ideas of its organization.
In what follows, is a Facebook post about my reflections on the meaning of the presence of the confederate battle flag. Despite, its recent removal it is important for us to remain cognizant that although the "battle" over the flag in South Carolina is over the war to perpetuate racism white supremacy continues.
Facebook Post: June 29, 2015
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the confederate flags which has led me to think about two important questions. If the first photo shown below is the official confederate flag and the second flag is the confederate battle flag, then what message(s) are states that currently fly the battle flag (I am going to include Alabama here) sending to its Black Amended Americans (as it remains the constitution does not recognize us as citizens of this country)? What ideologies are advanced through the far too pervasive symbol of the confederate battle flag?
Certainly, the confederate battle flag as a symbol is set to convey the idea that the “battle” for the continued enslavement of people of African descent has not and will not end. Moreover, Amended Americans of African descent who reside in the states flying this flag on state grounds or those residing in states whereby the confederate flag is in part incorporated into the state flag should make no mistake in recognizing that the state government is beholden to the ideals and principals that perpetuate the fanciful belief in the supremacy of whiteness. As such, the state government is an entity with many faces charged with carrying out the sadisms woven in the fabric of the confederate battle flag. The nefarious aims of the State take shape in the economic, political, educational, and environmental oppression of Black people (e.g. Strategically threatening the closing of South Carolina State University a HBCU). These aims emit the foul stench of slain black bodies in quest for racial domination each time the flag is waved or someone passes by with a t-shirt or bumper sticker and the like venerating this symbol.
SYMBOLS ARE POWERFUL! Cultures throughout time have used them to convey their beliefs, their humanity (or lack thereof), and proof of existence since the beginning. Our African Ancestors understood that symbols operate within our conscience and subconscious mind. Cultural Critic Stuart Hall, advanced the concept of a racial signifier and here we can use the same concept as a way of viewing the confederate battle flag critically. The racial signifier “hails” a person (Hey! Over here!) into discourse/narratives/stories in a particular way. Basically, the flag as a racial signifier, stands in as a symbol of the enslavement of African people, the so-called inferiority of Black people, and all violence’s carried out against black folk since the first of us came to America as enslaved Africans. Thus, the flag hails Black people into the horrors of American History like “Hey, over here remember this?”
Parading this symbol in the faces of black folk each day is a violence of the State! It is the piercing dull rusty blade of American racism. This symbol has both conscious and subconscious psychological repercussions. This flag represents a system that has made many black people believe that they are indeed “wretched” and thus, the wretched of the earth (see the Doll Study https://youtu.be/tkpUyB2xgTM ). "Wretched" has even become a colloquial term used by some black people to describe each other due to centuries of programming (through symbols/propaganda) to believe this of themselves.
Let us educate ourselves about the real “battle” we are in and in the interim, let us continue to take the flag down and confront systemic and institutionalized racism. #FreeBree #RIPRevSlave
FYI: Reverend Slave was a brother who dressed in a Santa Clause suit who would frequently climb the state house dome to take the flag down. I just wanted to remember him too. He died a few years ago and is now our Ancestor living through sister Bree Newsome.