by Solomon Comissiong
The Confederate flag is only the tip of the iceberg of bigoted symbolism that permeates the nation’s popular and official culture. “United States society is riddled with racist imagery that ultimately extols men who were devoted slave masters, white supremacists and/or mass murderers.
The Confederate Flag is Not the Only Thing That Should Be Abolished
by Solomon Comissiong
“The Star Spangled Banner is nothing more than a celebratory song for white supremacist, slave masters and land pirates.”
In the wake of the brutal mass murder of nine Africans in Charleston, South Carolina, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the flying of the Confederate flag, especially at state buildings. Pictures have surfaced showing the barbaric white terrorist, Dylan Roof, showcasing the Confederate flag. This has served as an impetus for debate regarding the Confederate flag, a symbol of white brutality, terror, oppression and slavery. It has long been a good idea to abolish that filthy rag from being flown on, or near, any public building. However, the Confederate flag is far from the only prominent US based symbol and/or image that should be abolished. This article is merely a snapshot of some of these reprehensible symbols.
Why stop at just abolishing the Confederate flag from being flown in public places? The Confederate flag is far from the only racist, white supremacist and genocidal image. United States society is riddled with racist imagery that ultimately extols men who were devoted slave masters, white supremacists and/or mass murderers. Many Americans fail to see this because they have been mentally indoctrinated since childhood. Americans have been programmed to worship the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and Andrew Jackson. I would go on, however there are many dozens more I could list. This love affair with evil men, their evil deeds, as well as racist images, unfortunately also includes African/black people who have been programmed to accept these images.
George Washington was a slave master of over 300 African people, land thief and killer of Native Americans. Thomas Jefferson owned more than 200 Africans as slaves and Abe Lincoln was an unrepentant white supremacist that hated African/black people. If you are one of those people who continue to believe the mythology that Abe Lincoln was an altruistic liberator of enslaved Africans, you need to immediately read Forced Into Glory, by Lerone Bennett Jr.
“This love affair with evil men, their evil deeds, as well as racist images, unfortunately also includes African/black people who have been programmed to accept these images.”
Many of the so-called “Founding Fathers” were white supremacists that saw nothing wrong with the enslavement of Africans, as well as the systematic plunder of indigenous people’s land. Early white colonist/land thieves massacred Native American communities, and subsequently created holidays like Thanksgiving to celebrate those exterminations and plunder. How is the acceptance of holidays like Thanksgiving Day or Columbus Day any less psychologically harmful than that of the Confederate flag? The root histories of those holidays and the wretched men who are connected to them are just as reprehensible and bloody as the Confederate flag.
The same can be said of the men anchored to Presidents’ Day. If we are truly serious about our basis for abolishing the Confederate flag/rag, then we need to be serious about, at the very least, repudiating these holidays. In a humane society they would be dismantled and reconstructed into something that honors Native Americans and enslaved Africans. The fourth Thursday of November should be converted into a Harvest Day feast that ultimately pays homage to Native Americans, their struggle and their beautiful respect for the earth. That second Monday in October would never again be called “Columbus Day,” however it should be aptly renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This day should serve as a national day of remembrance of the millions of indigenous people who were killed in the name of white supremacy and European conquest. Substantive dialogues should occur throughout the US, encouraging people to discuss what truly happened to Native American people and how those kinds of actions should never be replicated. This obviously would place pressure on the United States government to no longer engage in imperialist acts, as imperialism is akin to the pillaging of Turtle Island/North America. These kinds of respectful and humane holidays have the ability to serve as steps toward transforming society. We ultimately need to replace mindless superficiality with substantive actions of societal transformation.
“How is the acceptance of holidays like Thanksgiving Day or Columbus Day any less psychologically harmful than that of the Confederate flag?”
Yes, all public imagery and vestiges that glorify dead Confederate war “heroes” should be immediately removed and destroyed, however they are just the tip of the iceberg. Interestingly, they are more plainly seen as racist by many Americans due to their obvious connection to the Confederacy. There are many equally heinous examples of white supremacy and institutionalized oppression. Unfortunately these examples commonly fly under the radar of a great many Americans.
Lastly, there should be a healthy dose of light shone on the United States’ so-called National Anthem. A proud and dedicated slave master named Francis Scott Key wrote the US national anthem. Francis Scott Key used his platform as a US Attorney to attack abolitionists. He saw them as a direct threat to the potential ending of slavery, and the loss of revenue that would naturally ensue. He did not want to see an end to slavery, plain and simple. This shiftless and evil man profited from slavery. He was a hypocrite, just as many of the so-called “Founding Fathers” were. The Star Spangled Banner is nothing more than a celebratory song for white supremacist, slave masters and land pirates. Who do we think Francis Scott Key is referring to when he wrote, “Land of the free and the home of the brave”? He certainly was not referring to Native Americans, whose land he and other whites stole. And he most certainly was not referring to enslaved Africans…. after all, being enslaved means you are not free.
Francis Scott Key used his professional position and the 'law' to defend the wretched institution of slavery. A white supremacist hypocrite wrote the Star Spangled Banner. There should be a new national anthem, one written by someone who was not a hypocrite and enslaver. It should be a song that reflects a tone that denounces injustice and is free from contradiction. It speaks volumes of US society to have embraced “The Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem in 1931, given the fact that since it's illegal inception, the United States has been a nation that wholeheartedly embraces injustice, especially against people of color. The United States is a contradiction, in and of itself. There is no freedom, and justice for all, only for those who are white and wealthy. The United States has always been a white settler colony.
As we approach the July 4th mockery of a holiday, it should blatantly remind African/black people of these contradictions. There was no independence from slavery or white supremacy in 1776. It was and still is a holiday for Euro-American hypocrites, hell bent of rubbing their crimes against humanity in the faces of those who were, and continue to be, trampled on in the interests of white supremacy and imperialism.
“There was no independence from slavery or white supremacy in 1776.”
Fredrick Douglass was spot on when in 1852 he said the following:
“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”
If we are serious about ridding society of imagery that is racist and supportive of slavery and genocide, then we should rid society of imagery of slave masters, white supremacists, and mass murderers. Take them off currency and replace them with images of people who actually did things to improve humanity. Lets not be superficial, lets substantively start the necessary conversations regarding this topic as a means to changing these things in the future. The next generation deserves to be taught to celebrate benevolent human beings and liberators of the oppressed, not to celebrate the scourge of the earth.
Solomon Comissiong (www.solomoncomissiong.com) is an educator, community activist, author, and Founder of the Your World News Media Collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. Solomon is also the writer and producer of the documentary, Hip Hop, White Supremacy & Capitalism: Why Corporations Infiltrated RAP Music. He can be reached at: [email protected]