I have, on several occasions, been queried for my response to the removal of South Carolina's Confederate flag, which has been a symbol of hate for some, while simultaneously representing a symbol of heritage for other folks. In 1961, this flag flew alongside the state flag in South Carolina mostly to show resistance to ending the Jim Crow era. I also give a side eye to those that act like they do not understand how a flag used by hate groups would not make folks from marginalized communities at least somewhat uncomfortable.
For me, the removal of the Confederate flag and the controversy surrounding it is less about the flag and more about the movement toward a new order that is leaving a lot of people anxious; folks like the Confederate flag-wielding group that greeted POTUS in Oklahoma City and demonstrators in Columbia. This new era of change is feeding into an irrational fear that a way of life so many have enjoyed is about to suddenly come to an end. True, there will be a shift in this country's population, as brown folks will soon become the majority, but to think that a historical system of privilege will be somehow dismantled overnight is ridiculous.
This culture of change can, to me, be coined as the era of "The Haves" and the "Not Having It."
You see, like it or not, the times are changing and many folks, specifically the younger demographic, are shedding the traditional trappings of being historically docile and complacent but rather deciding to create their own form of activism like #BlackLivesMatter.
We are experiencing a time when those who think their power structure is threatened are speaking and acting out boldly and without impunity. Yet those in the "Not Having It" camp are now responding with equal boldness and opposition.
The old order would have sat back, marched, prayed and waited for the "system" to make a decision in regards to the Confederate flag. The new regime, with members like activist and heroine Bree Newsome, are all about action. Newsome fearlessly scaled the flagpole outside the South Carolina Capitol and not only removed the flag but bravely stated to those below: "You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today."
As a society, we have taught the "Not Having It" demographic of activists that being docile and complacent will only keep you voiceless. It is only when you speak out boldly and with purpose that "The Haves" will take notice. How many times were young black youth victimized by authority figures? It was not until they begin to protest and scream back in resistant defiance in environments like Ferguson and Baltimore that the media gave them any attention.
But the old regime is stubborn and nostalgic in their efforts to hold onto days gone by. No one epitomizes such a priggish mentality more than Donald Trump, who managed to insult and an entire populace — and the fastest growing American demographic — with his derogatory remarks that basically suggested a large percentage of Mexican immigrants are rapists, murderers and criminals. Before you denounce his antics as just another publicity stunt, look how many folks are showing up for his speaking engagements and how surprisingly well he is doing in polls, suggesting there is a disturbingly significant number of folks who wholeheartedly agree with Trump's ideas.
But this new "Not Having It" fraternity of activists will not be outdone by some reality TV bully. A young champion for the cause emerged and spoke back to the old regime: award-winning actress of Honduran descent, America Ferrera. The actress, best known for her role in the series Ugly Betty, wrote an open letter to Trump and those that think like him.
And although Ferrera shared many inspiring words, the following seem to speak to the struggle between an old guard desperately clinging to an ideological relic while a new regime fearlessly ushers in an era of equality and inclusion:
"You, Mr. Trump, are living in an outdated fantasy of a bigoted America. Last week, America celebrated some amazing milestones — marriage equality, universal healthcare, removal of the Confederate flag — making it clear which direction the country is moving. That is why racist remarks that play to extremists won't change the tide, no matter how hard you try."
Take heed old guard, America has spoken.