Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Remove the flag (#Charleston)

Many of my black friends share the same sentiment about last Wednesday's terrorist attack in Charleston: far too many people have been silent.

"[We] have been talking about how disappointing it's been to not see our non-black friends say anything about a lot of these events... I feel so let down when so many make no mention of Charleston," my friend Lisa recently wrote to me.

I've also been disheartened by the lack of outrage, particularly among non-black public figures and especially with those in the blogosphere. 

But then I see the light. 

I heard this interview on NPR with South Carolina State Legislator Doug Brannon, who is white, and it restored my faith in humanity.

Brannon is one of the few Republican politicians who has had the courage to speak out recently against the Confederate flag. When asked if he had ever thought, in the five years he's been in the South Carolina House of Representatives, about doing something about the Confederate flag, his response was surprisingly candid and remorseful.

"I'm ashamed to tell you, 'No,'" Brannon, who was close friends with the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims in last Wednesday's mass shooting, said to NPR's Melissa Block. "I should have done it five years ago. It shouldn't have been the death of these nine incredible people. I should have done it. But I didn't. And I apologize for that."

Brannon is confident that there will be a motion in the state's Senate and House to file a new bill to take the Confederate flag down. "I think that we're going to debate this bill and take the flag down this summer," he said.

Brannon's convictions may jeopardize his chances at re-election, considering he represents an extremely conservative constituency. But he doesn't care, because doing to right thing is more important than garnering votes.  

"I'm going to do my job until I lose my job and if I lose it over this, I will lose with a smile," he said.

Let's hear more of our public servants and those in positions of power take a stand and speak up. Removing the Confederate flag -- which since its inception has been a symbol of hate, division and anarchy -- is one step of many that needs to happen in this country. 

Photo by Mladen Antonov for AFP/Getty Images via WLTX