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Troy

3 Reasons the Confederate Flag is Not a Problem

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I'm a Black man, proudly black.  I never wanted to live or work anywhere but among Black people.  It is what I do now.

But I really can't get so bent out of shape over the Confederate battle flag controversy. This media fueled-for-profit outrage does nothing to advance our cause.  Before the recent mass murder in Charleston, I posted a photo of this flag which is flying quite prominently over I-95, in VA (see, "Confederate Flag Welcomes Drivers on I-95 to the South").  At the time, I searched for information about this flag, because it just seems so crazy that it would be on display so prominently--I mean it is a BIG-ass flag.  I found some information about the flag, but there was no outrage, certainly not the outrage we are reading today. 

The three biggest arguments I heard about the flag, coming from Black people, include;

1 - It is a symbol of racism, and the pro-slavery south. 

Sure it is, and so is the American Flag, that so many of us salute at every sporting event.  There was slavery in America for two hundred years before the Confederate Flag was even invented.  How can we be so insulted by the confederate flag when those honoring the American flag did far worse that those who honor the confederate flag.  In fact, I'd rather see the flag--it lets me know who I'm dealing with, unlike the hypocrites who lie to your face while stabbing you in the back.

2 - The Flag Represents Treason

Phulese!  Not 100 years before the Confederate flag was raised during the Civil War,  The folks here were engaged in their own treasonous act fighting for independence from Britain.  Jefferson Davis is no more a traitor than George Washington, the father of our country.  

3- The flag is a symbol of hate spurring the violence we witnessed in Charleston

Does anybody believe for one second that Charleston could never have happened were it not for this flag?  If the flag were banned completely does anyone think that racists could not come up with another flag.   Often Germany is praised for banning the Nazi flag, and it is suggested that we should do the same thing, and maybe we should. But I have no illusions that anything will change for Black people in this country as a result.

I mean President Obama gave a speech on a bridge named for the Grand Wizard of the Klan and a Confederate General in the Civil war!  Where was the outrage then.  Where is the call to rename that bridge?  

I signed the petition to remove the Confederate flag from all government placeswhich is now up to 563,155 signatures, but that took about 10 seconds of effort with zero sacrifice--big deal!

How about a boycott of Charleston, SC, or even the entire state?  No, that won't happen anymore than a boycott of Empire on Fox, or even, God forbid, the active support of a Black owned business.

 

Edited by Troy

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It's not about the effect the rebel flag has on you, a black man, Troy.  It's about how near and dear it is to those who cherish it.  When this banner is besmirched and reviled and exposed as being a symbol of treason and racism and degradation, then this deeply offends those who believe it should be honored. Having this banner negatively characterized and yanked from it place of prominence is a moral victory for Blacks because it deflates the pride of white southern die-hards, and reduces the rag they revere into a national disgrace.   Maybe we can't kill it, but we can maim it. .

 The American flag represents many things to many people. So does the Cross.  But they are both  symbols of power.  The confederate flag is a symbol of defeat and inhumanity.  

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I've been thinking about this and the argument for removing it is the exact same argument Blacks use for justifying the N word.

The flag is offensive and Blacks don't use it or care for it. Whites say that it represents history and no longer has the negative attributes associated with it's use.

The N word is offensive and Whites may use it in private, but Blacks say that it is a word of brotherhood and no longer has the negatives attributes associated with it's use.

* Here is my problem with both. I don't give a hoot about a flag. Not one damn bit and I'm from the South and I lived in Southern Cali where people are unaware that there is one of the biggest groups of Neo nazis and bigots in the country in Santee and El Cajon. There used to be flyers for joining the Aryan Nation on the ground at every bus stop in these areas east of San Diego.  

I don't use the N word. Does it show up in my life in music and discussion? Yes it does. It is still jarring to me no matter who is saying it. I try to buy "clean" records to avoid it, but some records the word is used as I think the situation calls for... kind of like the flag.

If people want to fly it, who gives a damn. I pretty much avoid the discussions on shootings and all of the racist stuff going on. I don't really get into the discussions, but I'm jumping in here because I just jumped in and gave my thoughts on Facebook and I would never give Facebook more effort than I give a platform that is Black owned.

All of the things happening in America are problems with capitalism and how the system was put into place and how its flaws have contributed to every problem we have in this society. Should people run around waving the flag and putting it on state buildings? No, but it is a part of history and has it's place in museums and as an item that can be purchased. Does the N word need to be sold on records and in mainstream media as a term of endearment, no. It does represent something significant to Blacks though and trying to ban it is a waste of time. What should be discussed is the state of economics in the US. Why? Because that is something we all can affect and change. If Blacks simply became more conscious consumers (which isn't that simple) racism would be the least of our worries as racism doesn't affect those who have fiscal control over their surroundings/situations.

Edited by CDBurns
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"...I would never give Facebook more effort than I give a platform that is Black owned."  

From you mouth to God's ears Brother!  I agree with your other points as well.  

I guess I'm just tired of our ever so apparent hypocrisy.  I guess with all the extra noise we are subjected to from social media the hypocrisy which was always present just becomes so much more self-evident and irritating.

We previously discussed our own use of the Confederate Battle Flag. Where were the calls to sign petition to ban Kayne West, whose image is far more impactful to our youth, in particular, the some Flag flying over SC that most of us will never see? 

Why can we get the n-word banned from popular music if we are so concerned about symbols of "racism" and "degradation?"

kayne-battle-flag.jpg

 

Edited by Troy

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Hummmm. I beg to differ about the word nigger and the confederate flag being comparable. Nigger and all of its multi-faceted nuances and usage is a word rather than an image. It is an abstract amoeba.    Is there a poster boy who could universally represent the word "nigger".  The confederate flag is a tangible visible immediately recognizable object whose appearance is always the same. There is nothing subtle about it.  You either approve of it or you disapprove of it. If you are neutral about it, then that silence conveys approval. It represents one thing; pride in a bygone white supremacy culture that upheld slavery of black people.  The word nigger has many variations and the "beauty" of this is that no black person ever misinterprets what another black person means when using the word. 

Black folks rather than abolishing the word nigger have made it their own and given it exclusive status.  It is a pass word that initiates them into the bond of blackness that is a centuries old cult of people who, if nothing else, were creative.  The word nigger is also a powerful weapon that keeps white people in check because the public use of it can make or break high profile ones by branding them as racists.  For once in their long history of oppression,  usage of the word nigger has now put black people in the position of saying: "Don't do as I do. Do as I say do." Rap on.  

The confederate flag is the pathetic last hurrah of a people who lost the Civil War.  Nigger is a word whose versatility is a reflection of a people who won the semantic war. Yes this word's past is associated with a painful era in American history but it should be noted that one of the most feared  person among white overseers were the legendary "Bad Niggas" and their close relatives the Crazy Niggas. NOBODY messed with them.  And don't underestimate the manipulative skills of the House Niggas.  Southerners liked to portray their darkies as childlike and ignorant. But they were the gullible fools because this was what their servants misled them into believing in order to surrepticiously get over on them. 

 

 

  

Edited by Cynique
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Cynique the flag, like the word is the same.  What changes is how we feel about it.  Your interpretation of the word nigga/er is your own.  It is in no stretch of the imagination a universal sentiment.

Back to Kanye, I think he was actually trying make the flag his own in much the same way that you've claimed Black people have made nigger their own.  But given the grief people are giving President Obama for using the word recently, clearly it is not a word that we own.  Nigger was co-opted for commercial purposes long ago.  

Do you think sales of the confederate flag are going to go up or down now?

Again, my main point is what we see in the media regarding the n-word and the confederate flag is full of inconsistencies and hypocrisy--which is a direct reflection of the American culture.

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It was my impression that reaction to Obama's use of the word nigger was mostly favorable. He told it like it is.    

I think Kanye's publicity stunt was an attempt to render the confederation flag impotent by him, a black man, embracing it,  Would superstar, white, C&W singer, Blake Shelton, have dared to attempt to render the word nigger impotent by using it publicly - since it is on a par with the rebel flag?? 

Black people have made such common variations of nigger as nigga, niggaz, ninja, their own because they created and annointed them.  

I have no idea whether the sales of confederate flags will rise.  Do you think the use of the word nigger will go up because Obama used it? 

 

 

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Cynique you are dead wrong. On the several occasions I had a gun pulled on me it was by a Black man calling me the N word. You are completely wrong. I don't use it. It's not a term of endearment in any way whatsoever. Every kid I've seen jump or beat a kid at a school I taught at called the other kid that word. I honestly don't know how you say that we control it and own it when, like the flag, no one of either race is comfortable with either of these negative words/images.

I've had a second to think about this and the idea that the N word lacks a tangible representation is just that an idea or opinion that you hold. When I hear the word I have several images that pop into my head. All tangible and all representing the behavior associated with the idea of what that word means. This is why it bothers me so much that we have allowed the word to be commodified, packaged and sold to us as okay.

I get that the word was taken by us and changed. I really do. However, the logic of that word ever being positive is just amazing to me no matter how anyone, you, rappers, anyone attempts to explain it, it's damaging to us and whether you agree or not, I truly think it hinders the cohesiveness of the people. How can 1 word hinder togetherness? The word weighs on us and like the flag it's not something accepted as good by all.

Now nothing has to be all good or all bad, and that flag doesn't need to be flying over state capitols or used as a state flag, but banning it is a waste of time. It does nothing at all to improve the livelihood of Black people. Absolutely nothing. If this is considered a small victory then we need some bigger damn goals.

Edited by CDBurns
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I never said nigger is a term of endearment -  altho it can be, as well as a term of contempt. Which is what I wrote, it is a multi-faceted word that is never misinterpreted when one black directs it at another.  Obviously you understood how it was to be regarded when a black man who was holding you up called you that and he knew that his calling you that wasn't a term of endearment but a way to emphasize his seriousness.   

Never underestimate the endorphin effect of a moral victory; especially since the chances of Blacks winning economic victories are next to nothing.  You and Troy keep pointing this out. What makes you think you are wrong????? You 2 also keep downplaying the removing the confederate flag from public places. But this can have a domino effect; that's what die-hard Southerers, themselves, are currently bitching about.  They're afraid that taking down statues will be next and then changing street names.  It's a process.  



 

Edited by Cynique
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First, I did overlook the fact that you used "beauty" and that you never said nigger is a term of endearment. My bad.

I guess my frustration lies in the fact that there are so many things outside of our control in the Black community that the things we can work on ourselves and develop or change we don't.

According to your logic the removal of the flag is a part of the process of creating a domino effect that removes the images of slavery for White America. I agree with that logic. I agree with it so much that my primary argument for Black people to stop calling each other nigger/nigga is that as small as it seems there is great power in calling a Black man brother and a Black woman sister. There are small things that can generate change that we can control. How we view ourselves and respect each other is the greatest power that we have. We can't control much else.

I remember when Spike Lee's School Daze came out. There is one scene that for me validated and spoke towards how changing how we interact with each other can change things. 

This is very similar to John Singleton's Furious Styles character in Boyz n Da Hood who speaks about gentrification.

I guess what I'm saying and what I'm sure you understand is that if removing a flag is seen as progress, how powerful would it be if we began to think more highly of ourselves and stopped limiting ourselves to being niggers/niggas.

I think we should stop focusing so much on changing White America and begin delving into the small changes we can make in changing ourselves. Who knows. If we decide to call each other our names, or brothas and sistas, maybe the next step is supporting a black owned business or changing our browsing and viewing habits on the web. You're right though as small as the flag being removed is, it is progress.

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"You're not niggers." [classic Spike Lee, I forgot he used to make good movies]

Yesterday, on the Joe Madison (who is against the use of the n-word) radio program, was talking to a woman and was explaining to her how Jewish people have essentially eliminated the "K-word."  The woman, an adult, had no clue what the "K-word," brilliantly making Joe's point.  See everyone knows what the "n-word" is. 

Michael Jackson had the following lyrics in one of his songs.  Which used the so called K-word.  Jews went ballistic--and Jackson's use of the word was to fight racism!  But these very same people profit handsomely encourage the use of the use of the N-word in rap lyrics.

All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us

Beat me, hate me, you can never break me
Will me, thrill me, you can never kill me
Jew me, sue me, everybody do me
Kick me, kike me, don't you black or white me

All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us

Recently at a beach club, where all of the guests are white and most of the workers are Black.  One of the Black workers told me that he overheard a very young boy ask his dad, referring to the Black worker, if "...that was an n-word?"  Not he, but that.  I could not do anything in reaction by shake my but shake my head, and ask if the boy actually say "n-word" or "nigger" (he said n-word, but will not be very long before his is saying nigger).  Did I say this was in New York City?

Cynique, I don't know how the use of the word nigger could increase.  I hear it used every single day.  I do not think Obama should have used the word.  It was NOT favorable to me, and I'm not alone in that sentiment.  But I could see why you have that impression, because the white owned media is fine with it's use.

Do you think Obama would have used the word Kike, Spic or Fag in a similar context?  It seemed like a misdirected attempt by Obama to appear to be down, you know, the way "regular" folk behave.

It makes me think of Dick Cavett's use of the word with Eddie Murphy about 30 years ago.

We do not own this word.

 

Edited by Troy

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I think Obama might very well have used the other bigoted slurs, Troy, if he'd been chastising a hate crime involved Jews, Italians, Muslims or Gays.  "Impact" is the operative word here, and tip-toeing around  epithets sanitizes the situation. At some point, it becomes nitty-gritty time.  IMO.   

I'm thinking that this dialogue between me and you and Chris might be a generational thing.  I am a product of a black experience where black folks freely used the word nigga among themselves applying it in many different contexts.  Moreover, because I didn't live in the south, if a white person called you a nigger, where I came from, that was grounds for a fight or at least a heated exchange which would include such words as, cracker, peckerwood, honky and my all time favorite: white mothafucka. I also lived through the Richard Pryor era when every other word that came out of his mouth was nigga, and also during the days when the seminal rap group The Last Poets rapped about niggas. I subsequently loved it when Chris Rock uttered the "I love black folks, but I hate niggas!phrase that transformed him from a comic to a satirist; "  All of this has desensitized me to the painful effect this word presently evokes among Blacks. I didn't get the memo advising me that the official stance of black people today is that this word should be exorcized from our vocabularies - as if demonizing it would dissipate rather than empower it. You 2 would  probably respond that your experiences with the word nigga is similar to mine, yet - why is my reaction so different from yours? Who knows?  Who cares?  It doesn't matter.  

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Cynique, you did read where I wrote that I hear the n-word used everyday?  When I taught young adults, I heard the word several times an hour.  Finally, I asked the students to stop using it, not because I could not take it, but because I did not believe they understood how much they used the word and how it would effect how they are be perceived by others--particularly the ones they'd hoped to be hired by.  As a compromise, one or two used the word "ninja" in it's place.

Cynique, given how much older you are than I am, i would still be surprised if you both said the word more or heard it used more than I have.  I say that to say, unless it is being used by a white man, with a rope in his hand, the word nigger is does not mean very much to me than dude, homie or Bruh.

But that does not mean I think the President should use the word in public.  I think there is a time and a place for everything. 

And of all the things I might have to complain about Obama this would rank way down on the list.  In fact, as I said, it has become more of a distraction from important issues like TPP.

I'm not sure it matters much either, but if Obama had used the n-word while he was campaigning that would have been sayin' sumthin'.

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That's my point about the flag and the N word, they don't matter. In the bigger scheme the only thing that matters is financial empowerment. The discussion we are having is very topical and ends up being banter because it accomplishes nothing (sound and fury...). 

I used to make my basketball players do ten push ups for saying it. We lived in San Diego a 3% Black city and using the word was always around others, not just our own. The word eventually was taken on by Asians, Africans, Mexicans and every other race at the school - Unless I was around. All of these kids said it but if the word wetback, sand nigger, rice eater or FOB was used people lost their damn minds. I realized then that we are the only ones who openly accept a word that has such destructive tendencies.

Cynique I remember older people using the word like water, but when they would not use it when we encountered Whites. I thought it was hypocritical as a child and possibly because I grew up when people were learning self love and using brothers and sisters it's why I have a different view. As for the Last Poets they didn't use it in the same way as it's used today. Die Nigga so black folks can take over or Niggas are untogether people are exactly the sentiments I associate with the words as they do.

Do we all use it? I'm sure in some shape. It is what it is.

I do think though as a small movement, not using could create a considerable amount of change, but that won't happen because as we all agree, it doesn't matter much.

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I said that you 2, growing up probably had the same experience with the frequent use of the word nigger as I did. The difference is I became desensitized to it, while you guys seemingly internalized it.  Being old and set in my ways, the word is no big thing to me and I will continue to use it around Blacks - and  around Whites as well, when I'm trying to make a point; I have no qualms about using the word "nigger"  around Whites during a discussion about bigotry.  I like how uncomfortable this makes them.

On the occasion when some Whites have ventured to ask me why it is alright for Blacks, particularly rappers, to use nigger , but unacceptable for other ethnicities use it, I refuse to be put on the defensive. I simply say something in the vein of it being similar to how it's OK for one to criticize one's own family, but  not OK for others to do so.  Take it or leave it.

 We can, however, all agree on one thing: that this anecdotal bantering proves nothing because it really doesn't matter.   

Maybe one day you talented 2 will become multi-million dollar entrepreneurs, and the only thing you'll have to worry about in your aspirations to rival  the success of white businesses will be that you won't duplicate the duplicities that made them rich.   

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Using the word Niggers make white folks rich.  Dr. Dre and be a billionaire soon, while Mellie Mel, is obscure, a relative unknown.

Maybe the VA Battle flag is indeed a racist symbol, as it is on the KKK's membership application.

The American flag is on the application as well.  Perhaps it too is a racist a symbol.... 

kkk-ap.jpg

 

 

Edited by Troy

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