Thoughts on flags
The current Black Lives Matter movement, with its motto and flag, represents the continued struggle to end racism in Vermont and throughout the United States. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s had its own flag and a motto that could be summed up as, “We Shall Overcome.”
The Black Lives Matter movement of today is a reminder that the struggle to end racism continues. All systematic change throughout our history has been the result of the efforts of a few dedicated individuals or groups. It is generally accepted that during the American Revolution, only one-third of the colonists were in favor of independence from England. A group of citizen soldiers, called the Green Mountain Boys, were largely responsible for the creation of Vermont.
The work of members of the Abolitionist movement, and the Underground Railroad, gave courage to the black people fleeing slavery. It took a civil war and amendments to the U.S. Constitution, to finally end the practice of slavery, give citizenship to African Americans, and give the right to vote to black men.
The Woman’s Suffrage Movement endured a long and bitter battle to seek the vote but they did not receive full voting rights until 1920.
In the Bill of Rights, the freedom of speech that is guaranteed means that every voice does matter. We need to remember that it also demands us to listen to the voices of others.
In some school districts some students are suggesting motto saying, “All Lives Matter.” I hope this is not to diminish the Black Lives Matter campaign, but rather a show of solidarity.
I am concerned that when communities set a precedent to fly such flags, it may open the door for groups that are not positive to demand the same.
I wish to make it clear that I am not in any way opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement. In light of recent tragedies, we realize how much all lives do matter.
The Civil Rights flag was rarely seen. In freedom marches, they carried the national flag. Our national flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty. It is not generic in its meaning. Our flag goes beyond any president, any party or any group. Our flag is carried into battle to protect us and by those seeking social justice. “The Red, White and Blue” is the ultimate symbol that all lives do matter.
Educate children instead of flying flag
Can you speak out against racial or social injustice without supporting Black Lives Matter? The question is rhetorical food for thought, so chew on it for a moment. Simply stating “black lives matter” is entirely different than supporting the organization, Black Lives Matter. Conversely, stating “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter” detracts from the actual social, economic and racial injustice experienced across our nation.
Before administrators, boards, students, parents and community members float the idea to fly the Black Lives Matter flag outside our schools or other public spaces in town, I would ask them to do two things.
First, ask yourself if our public institutions should support any one organization over another? Why would we fly the Black Lives Matter flag over the Girl/Boy Scouts of America, National Honor Society flag or even the Town of Milton flag?
Second, thoroughly research and inquire about the Black Lives Matter organization itself. Go to the Black Lives Matter Web Page and read “HERSTORY.” You will shortly find out the organization is now “a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters” whose members “organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes” (blacklivesmatter.com). Ask yourself, does this really depict the actions and attitudes of Milton residents? Rather than flying a flag because it appears to be the right thing to do, let’s educate ourselves and support each other, regardless of our socioeconomic and racial differences.
People shouldn’t have to feel that because they don’t support Black Lives Matter that they are racist. They shouldn’t have to feel fear at expressing a more quieted opinion because they think it will incite anger. You can support people who are racially oppressed without supporting Black Lives Matter. Does raising a flag really instill change in the culture, attitude and actions of our town? Let’s focus on bettering our schools by educating students on social injustices rather than supporting an organization that many don’t even know what it truly stands for. We are better than this!
The choice is simple: Protect our children or protect the status quo.