I come from a city in California with a population of more than 300,000 and nearly 80 percent of the population identifies as Latino. I only ever saw the Confederate flag in my history textbooks concerning the war and its use by bigoted groups like the Ku Klux Klan. I never knew what culture shock felt like until I moved out to Meadville, Pa. and I saw a large Ford truck parading through the streets with Confederate flags billowing in the back.
The reason it is so shocking to me is because there is no getting around the fact that this flag is symbolic of the support of slavery. To wave the flag is disrespectful to the years of progress that we have made as a nation. In the year 2015, we really should not be having this debate. The flag has to go. The argument that the Confederate flag represents “heritage, not hate” is always ridiculous, especially in Pennsylvania. It is not Pennsylvania heritage. It is representative of a gross, unpatriotic subculture.
There has been a surge in racial tensions seen this past year with the unrest in Baltimore, Md., and Ferguson, Mo., leading to the rise of the “#BlackLivesMatter” campaigns in African-American communities. It highlights an era where Americans were divided and our nation nearly collapsed. Racism is still a relevant problem in America, and to be waving around the Confederate battle flag is insensitive to all people that see the flag as the symbol of hate it really is. It is a deadly reminder to Americans that have fought long and hard for racial equality that bigotry is still prevalent in our country and that there are people that will not accept their role in it.