Dear Confederate flag,
For whatever reason, you don't really like me. Be it my skin, my ancestors, or the fact that you've been replaced, you don't seem to care for me. Don't worry, though -- the feeling is mutual.
I suppose it's not you I despise, it's the meaning and hate that you carry. You are just a piece of fabric that's been remade time and time again, right? You aren't the family who enslaved my second great-grandfather. You aren't the man who rolled down his window, spit on my car, and screamed, "Die, N----r!" Yet the sight of you -- the history you carry -- makes me ashamed that you still fly in a country where we are supposedly free.
To your credit, you have your fair share of supporters. Granted, some maintain that you stand for nothing other than heritage and Southern pride. Ignorance is anything but bliss in that case. For others, however, you carry the message that I am not equal, that history was a mistake, and that I am a stranger in my own country. The stars and bars do carry a heritage, but it is a heritage of racism and hatred.
I will admit that you still have an effect on me. When it is late at night and I'm walking alone in a parking lot and I see your bumper sticker on the car driving past me, I will admit that I am scared. When I'm driving through a neighborhood and I see you flying unashamedly high on a neighbor's roof, I will tell you that I drive a little faster. You have the audacity to fly next to the American flag and feel no shame for the fear you instill. You tell me that no matter how many wars are won, laws are passed, or marches carried, that my blackness is inferior. When I am forced to see you flying next to a banner of freedom, I am reminded of how far we haven't come. The 21st century with a 19th century mindset.
When you fly at full mast the day after nine are killed under the hate you carry, I remember the pain that you cause spans centuries. When debate is sparked over whether or not a flag birthed from Civil War era hate should be taken down, I know that Old South racism persists. I wish I could say that the angry, segregated America my father grew up in was no more and that we have finally achieved equality. I wish I could say that the hatchet has been buried. But the fact that in 2015 you still have the gall to show your face proves that my dad's dream for me hasn't come true.
Your red is the blood you stole from my people, your blue is a false statement of justice, and your stars are fashioned out of those who despise us. Frankly, I'm torn -- part of me wants you destroyed, but the other part wants you sealed in a museum with a placard next to you detailing the hatred that you hold. What I'm certain of is that you do not deserve to be publicized, celebrated or commemorated. Despite the hate you may carry for me, I am more American than you will ever be.
You may hold power in extremists, white supremacist groups, and everyday racists, but you will never hold power over us. The color of our skin holds perseverance, while the color of your flag holds pain. Your removal will not erase the damage you have done, but it will be another step in the long journey for equality.