After reading the opinion pieces, Confederate Flag Misunderstood by Brian Schoeneman (Jan. 20) and NAACP Mission? by Joseph Daniel Ura (Jan. 24), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People GW chapter responds. As both letters dealt with the NAACP’s economic boycott of South Carolina in protest of the Confederate flag flying over the capitol, we believe and stand firm in the Association’s dedication to battle not only tangible vices of racism but symbols of racism such as this flag.
The underlying historical value of the Confederate flag is one that over time has changed. It serves as a symbol of Confederate soldiers fighting to keep an institution that supported slavery. While Mr. Schoeneman’s editorial argues, They fought for people to determine their own destiny, he fails to recognize that under this symbol, the Confederacy completely oppressed their southern black population. With this legacy, hate groups have taken this symbol and used it to further their racially intolerant causes. Though it may not historically symbolize white supremacy, it is offensive to minority communities.
According to Ura’s piece, the protest of the flag is pointless and irrelevant in that the black community needs to focus on more serious problems such as high rates of unemployment, infant mortality, incarceration and illegitimacy. The NAACP continues to be on the front lines in battling these issues. By holding job fairs all over the country, the Association provides the unemployed the opportunity to explore career options. The NAACP Health Division continually works in addressing the issue of infant mortality in the African-American and Latino communities. By working with Congress, the Washington Bureau pushes for programs that will attempt to alleviate the high numbers of minorities incarcerated and the conditions that they live in. From its inception, the NAACP has fought and won battles to be considered a legitimate part of American society. The Confederate flag is one of the underlying symbols that causes people to use words such as illegitimate to describe the African-American community.
Ura argues that the NAACP’s ongoing negotiations with the television networks are equally pointless. With negative pictures of minorities on news media, black and Latino communities face a lack of positive role models on TV. As a result of these roles, younger audiences can aspire to be more. The NAACP’s mission in negotiating with the television networks was not solely for the hiring of minority actors. This mission was primarily for networks to include minority directors, producers, writers and others who would be a part of the corporate aspect of television.
Minority communities continue to fight the same battles. It is a shame that the 21st century has arrived and on this campus we still face insensitivity, where a Confederate flag was used by a fraternity as a symbol for one of its rush events. We will continue to support the NAACP in its economic boycott of South Carolina and its negotiations with television networks. On a local level, the GW chapter will continue to address all issues facing minorities. We offer input and membership to anyone who is concerned with addressing these issues.
-Erika Emeruwa is president and LaToyia Harris is vice president of the NAACP at GW.