By: Danielle Apfel
Since the shooting last week in a church in Charleston, SC, which resulted in the death of nine African Americans, the recognition of ongoing racism in the South has taken the forefront of domestic politics. Tensions have been reigniting, and the people are making their stands.
While many still claim that the presence of Confederate flags represent a sense of “Southern pride,” others find the flag to denote racism, discrimination, and even white supremacy. The fight is not just among the people in these southern states however; the debate has been brought amongst politicians, leaders, and even large businesses and companies.
This current struggle comes just after the Supreme Court upheld a 5-4 decision affirming that the state government of Texas is allowed to refuse to issue state license plates bearing the image of the Confederate flag. In conjunction with the shooting last week as well, the issue over the Confederate flag has quickly moved from Texas and South Carolina to many other states in the South with past and present use of the Flag.
In an influential move supporting the ban of the Confederate flag, major companies and business leaders in the past few days have decided to stop the sale of Confederate merchandise throughout all of their commercial locations. Business leaders taking a stance in the political sphere may appear dramatic and against conventional “supply and demand” wisdom, but their influence proves to strive for more equality and inclusiveness. Just as with the business leaders on Wall Street speaking out for the right to same-sex marriage, these companies, with a large output in the South, have moved to eliminate the persistence of Southern racism in their own capacities.
Big companies like Walmart, Amazon, eBay, and Sears have already issued a ban, while others, such as Nascar, Boeing, BMW, and Michelin, have supported the removal of Confederate flags over government property. While these businesses would like to be able to sell merchandise that some of their customers may want, they would prefer to not offend any of their customers by doing so.
Aside from big business leaders taking a stance in their own markets, there has been an influx of government officials and leaders from both sides of the aisle who have come together in support of these bans. Notably, leaders in many of the tension-filled states have opted for the removal of Confederate flags from government buildings. In a decisive move, South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley announced the removal of the Flag from the SC state house, and Mississippi’s House Speaker Philip Gunn has even stated that the state flag should remove and change the portion that holds the Confederate flag.
Since this debate has resurfaced, there has been a huge move by many prominent leaders to act as they see fit, which invariably has led to a increased stance on the prevalence and acknowledgment of the continued racism that still plagues this country. Support for the removal of Confederate flags and paraphernalia has continued to grow amongst the public and notable leaders. With such influence, perhaps a new wave of equality and inclusiveness will prevail.