Kanye West’s “attempt” to take back the Confederate flag seems disingenuous at best and a media ploy at worst. As a black mother, I am outraged that a black man would attempt to sell Confederate flag-themed apparel to young people who probably don’t really understand the flag’s place in African American history. Thanks to a failing educational system, it is likely that the young people at his concerts do not understand the history of the Confederate flag. Kanye West’s use of the flag easily dupes them into thinking that such a hateful symbol is “cool.” It is up to us as mothers and loved ones to swiftly disabuse them of any idea that the Confederate flag is anything but hateful.
The Confederate flag has never been about “Southern pride.” The “I Love New York” emblem it is not. It is a symbol of the South’s fight to continue slavery, a fight that almost destroyed this country. The fact that a war was fought to get rid of that flag gets glossed over these days as does the reason for the war between the North and South. There are certain vestiges of the past that cannot be rehabilitated. For instance, we cannot or should not rehabilitate the swastika because just as with slavery, it represents the mass murder of innocent people.
The Dave Chappelle Argument
Kanye’s selling of the Confederate flag at his concerts reminded me of Dave Chappelle’s reason for leaving his eponymous show. Dave Chappelle told Oprah that he felt his sketches were “socially irresponsible” and that he hadn’t taken into consideration that his audience’s diversity. According to Chappelle, he felt instead of making fun of stereotypes, he was actually reinforcing them. In my opinion, Kanye’s rationale runs the same risk. In fact, I think it’s beyond a risk at this point. Instead of marginalizing the flag, Kanye’s use popularizes it and gives racists a perfect opportunity make a mockery of the young black people who hand over their parents’ hard earned money to buy an emblem of hate.
Boycott Kanye West
We are not powerless. We can help to stop this misguided idea and Kanye West. Reverend Sharpton and the National Action Network have started a petition to boycott Kanye’s Confederate apparel but I feel efforts should go further. Just as concerned black women did with Rick Ross, Kanye’s endorsements and financial deals should be targeted until he stops selling the merchandise and apologizes. We owe it to those who have gone before us and our children.