South Carolina

Y'all need to take down the Confederate flag

A little while ago, CNN reported Walmart will stop selling merchandise with the Confederate flag. Earlier today, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag, which currently flies on the grounds of the state Capitol. A couple of days ago, Mitt Romney tweeted it needed to come down, adding "To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims." 

All of this comes a few days after a psycho racist white guy shot up a black church in Charleston, killing nine people. 

The night the news broke about the massacre, it was difficult for me to fall asleep. I was alone in our two-story townhome with the dogs. From the bed, I kept staring at the stairs, expecting a villain to appear out of the darkness. It was like I expected the killer, who'd yet to be apprehended, to come get me or something. I mentally calculated how far away Charleston was from Augusta. He could dash up I-26 and hook a left onto I-20, taking him straight here. Who would suspect a mass murderer to be hiding in a town known for golf tournament? It could have been the perfect escape plan.

I know that's crazy. But the fact that someone entered a place of worship and intentionally shattered the invisible curtain of peace is so terrifying. The callous way this guy took the lives of people who merely looked different from him, who offered him kindness even though he was a stranger, was overwhelming. It shook me to my core. 

It's not that the Charleston massacre inspired fear for my own life. I'm half white and half Korean - thanks to my dad's genes, I'm statistically not likely to be the victim of racist violence. I was -- I am -- scared for humanity.

How do you fix deeply rooted racism like this? How does a city, a state, a country find healing in such violent times? To paraphrase something my old journalism professor said to me recently, the genie’s been let out of the bottle already -- is there any way to force it back in ? 

Of course, that professor was talking about gun control, but at the root of such a tragedy like this is some people’s inability to see that we’re all humans, no matter the pigment of our skin.

How do you heal a wound whose stitches are constantly being reopened by privilege and ignorance? How do you repair the shredded cloth of humanity with a single needle and thread?

I don't have the answers. What I do know is that removing all semblances of the old, bigoted South from public property is as good a start as any. South Carolina legislator Doug Brannon says he plans to introduce a bill as soon as possible (December) to remove the flag from state property.

Georgia and Mississippi, feel free to jump on the bandwagon here.

Here in Augusta, just down the street from where we live, there's a home with the Confederate battle flag flying high for all to see. The house, situated next to a gas station, is located on a four-lane road with moderate traffic. The flag, anchored by a 50-foot pole, is a part of the Flags Across Georgia project by the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, working "to commemorate the War and to promote Southern heritage." It's enormous, overbearing and flies with an arrogance unmatched by any other piece of cloth. It's one of the first things I see every time I exit the highway, and the discomfort hasn't lessened yet.

There's no way we as a country can move forward if we're giving ourselves whiplash with nostalgia. It's 2015, and the South has become a rich mecca of vastly different cultures. Take down the Confederate battle flag -- it's time for a new symbol to commemorate Southern heritage.