LTE: Mixed Signals on Racism, Confederate Flag
by BRUCE SEAMAN
Troubling issues were revealed amid the recent incident at West Port High School when white students produced a Confederate flag and taunted black students, inciting a black student to strike a white student.
In meeting with OPD Chief Graham and Schools Superintendent Tomyn, Rev. Reginald Willis, Sr. of Marion County NAACP and I shared our concerns, and our desire for improvements in key areas. As further information has developed, our concerns have heightened. Their willingness to listen was appreciated, and we expect further discussions in the future.
One thing is certain. . The County Commission failed to confront the racism inherent in the Confederate flag, opting to move it from one location to another. Removing the flag to a museum would have sent a clear message. Instead, their faulty decision reverberates, sending mixed signals to the community.
Bridges Project and Marion County NAACP hoped that the Commission would recognize the indisputable history of flags of the Confederacy as representing the unfortunate fulfillment of “America’s original sin,” slavery, and the vicious racism at its heart and soul. Instead, the Commission endorsed white heritage, our racist heritage, and voted to continue proudly flying a Confederate flag in Marion County.
Can we honestly make the case for a just, equitable Marion County today when the Confederate flag still flies, reflecting our county’s ignorance and negligence toward black history? What message is sent to young people about this emblem of racial hatred and oppression? Sadly, the County Commission declared this emblem worthy of honor.
We need leadership from all elected officials on this issue. So far, we have had an endorsement of our racist past which frankly is an endorsement for our racist present and future. Take down the flag, end the mixed signals, and let’s move forward.
Bruce Seaman, President
Bridges Project Ocala-Marion County
published in the Ocala Star Banner “Letters to the editor for Feb. 20, 2016”