Racist Will Always Be Racist, With Or Without A Confederate Flag

June 29, 2015 0 Comments

I promise this topic contains some modicum of finance in it. Why else would I entertain such a senseless topic. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, you’ve heard about the Charleston, South Carolina gunman Dylan Roof. He is the white supremacist who went on a shooting rampage in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killing 9 people, including a State Senator.

After his apprehension, the police managed to find a website linked to Roof, which contained a detailed manifesto, characterizing his desire to create a ‘race war’ and explaining his deep hatred for minorities, especially black people. His website was filled with racially offensive characterizations about blacks, which concluded that, “someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

Along with his rationale, there were over 60 photos of Roof doing many different things. Such as appearing at the historical Confederate sites, in front of the Confederate Historical Museum and the Confederate cemetery. There were also photos of Roof trampling on the American flag — even so much as burning the flag — while proudly waving the flag of the Confederacy. I think its clear that Roof was a bigger fan of the Confederacy than he was of the United States (or, the Union, in his case).

Now what does this has to do with anything that I care about (finance)? Considering the aftermath of the tragedy, along with the confederate flag being considered a symbol of racism, this sparked a major debate in the Nation. The Confederate Flag (or rather, flags that incorporate confederacy symbol. still flies on the grounds of the capitol in South Carolina, as well as other Southern States such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia.

The debate: whether or not these flags should still be flying on capitol grounds. If so, shouldn’t these flags be altered in some way, shape or form.

Most people would consider keeping these flags to be in ‘bad taste,’ as it would dishonor the memory of those who have died at the hands of a racist. However, considering the Confederacy was a very influential component in Roof’s manifesto, the “infinite wisdom” of some law makers and civil rights activist would be to take the flag down and eliminate all traces of the symbol. Because… People are just going to willingly do that.

Well, to be fair, some people are actually doing it, but it isn’t from anyone in the Public Sector. Multiple retail outlets such as Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Sears, and Overstock.com have all ceased sales of the confederate flag indefinitely. However, that wasn’t until after sales have skyrocketed

From Yahoo:

Alotta Signs of Sparks, Nev., typically sells about five Confederate flags per week. On Monday, however, 46 orders came in. Then South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for removing the stars and bars from her state’s capitol grounds. The next morning, Alotta Signs logged 200 orders for Confederate flags, most of them through Amazon (AMZN). “We don’t even have the lowest price,” says Dave Pearson, owner and president of the company. “It’s nuts.”
 
The threat of scarcity often leads to a run on products — such as guns, with sales typically spiking when there’s talk of tightening regulations after mass shootings. And that appears to be the case for the Confederate flag, now under assault in the aftermath of the murder of nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
 
Many politicians who had defended the right of southern states to fly the flag changed their minds and said it should be relegated to museums. Walmart (WMT) and Sears (SHLD) said they would no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise.

Not only have they flown off of the shelf, they have become best sellers:

On Monday, before Haley announced her change in position on the flag (which still must be approved by the state assembly), Amazon listed two Confederate flags among the 60 bestselling items under “Outdoor Flags and Banners”: one at the No. 5 spot, and one at No. 43. The following morning, five of the top 20 bestsellers in the category were Confederate flags, including the No. 1 bestseller, a 3-by-5 foot polyester model made by Rhode Island Novelty and sold by a company called Anley. Among the top 60, 12 were versions of the Confederate flag.
 
Alotta’s flag, a 3-by-5 nylon embroidered model that sells for $13.95 plus $6.25 shipping (and is not eligible for Amazon’s free-shipping service, Prime) was the No. 7 bestseller as of midday Tuesday. So the sales spike for higher-ranking flags has probably been even greater than for Alotta’s product.
 
Sellers on eBay (EBAY) seem to be experiencing a similar surge in interest. At about 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, a confederate flag listed by a seller named superqualityflags showed 149 sold in the last 24 hours. By 11 a.m., 201 had been sold in the last 24 hours.

Although eBay already sells items that can be potentially offensive (such as the Swatiska), the company may still allow the item to be sold if it contains some historical value.

Apple Inc. showed some concern with the message being portrayed regarding the flag. On Thursday, Apple made the decision to remove all Civil War games from the iTunes store for displaying the Confederate flag. As it turns out, these games violated Section 19.1 of the App Store’s Review Guildlines:

Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected

Apple released this statement to Buzzfeed News:

“We have removed apps from the App Store that use the Confederate flag in offensive or mean-spirited ways, which is in violation of our guidelines,” an Apple spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We are not removing apps that display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses.”

However, Apple has reinstated some of these games back onto the App Store. Civil War: 1863, one of the games removed from the App Store, was put back immediately. Other games took some time, as developers made some tweaks to the games. Apple would only allow these games to be placed back into the App Store, unless these games removed the Confederate icon from the game.

With all of the controversy around the flag, and society’s new mission to purge the flag from the face of the nation, are these actions working? What does everyone hope to accomplish by banning this flag?

Where Exactly Is The Source Of This Racism?

I’m not saying people are so naive to believe that racism will be eliminated simply by banning the flag. I’ma slo not going to waste time saying that the social problems regarding the nation are much greater than a mere flag. However, I will say that racism and racist acts will still probably occur, regardless of whether or not these incidents are occurring near a potential symbol of hate.

Case in point, a study was published by earlier this year on the PLOS One website, with a team of sociologist and behavioral scientist, who were able to determine the most racist areas in the country. They were able to determine this by research google inquiries for the N-word, and tracking where these inquiries originated from.

Sounds very mundane, but the simple fact of the matter is that traditional surveys tend to be unreliable in terms of measuring racism. When asking a stranger a personal question, such as, “are you racist,” you’re more than likely going to have the response, “no.” It’s also important to note that not everyone who searches for this word is motivated by racism, and not all racist search for that work. However, given the data researchers had to work with, you will have a pretty good idea of where these racist attitudes foster.

For example, I’m currently living in New York City, and my state is considered more racist than others. That may be surprising to some because my state is also a very liberal state. You also have other very racist states, which includes parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, parts of Florida, Vermont, North Carolina, and a tiny part of what I think could be Massachusetts or Rhode Island. Most of these states are also liberal states (or Blue states, as the 2012 election mappings reveal).

Aside from the fact neither of the states I have mentioned have Confederacy style flags (aside from Florida), the conventional wisdom suggestion that it is the liberal states that are more tolerate and seeking of racial equality. The cluster of racial search are not happening in the South, but in the Appalachians running from parts of Georgia all the way up to New York and Vermont.

So big deal? What exactly does N-word search on Google matter? As it turns out from the study, it matters quite a bit, as racist search on google were highly correlated with higher morality rates for blacks. The study isn’t suggesting that racial search on Google are the leading cause of African American deaths (that would be silly); however, it does suggest that racist attitudes can contribute to lower economic outcomes and poor health conditions for blacks.

For example, stronger than average racist attitudes could lead to lower health care outcomes entirely. For example, you have Vermont (home to Socialist Bernie Sanders) with the black morality rate from diseases such as cirrhosis standing at 11.8, according to the CDC Micro Data files. This is slightly higher than the national average of 10.8.

When it comes to infant morality, the results are nearly identical. You have Ohio and Kentucky. Two very different states on a very different spectrum politically, and yet, both states are considered very racist. Both states have very different infant mortality statistics, which has Kentucky standing at a rate of 10.82 and Ohio significantly higher, with a rate of 15.45. The national average is 11.51.

Racially Motivated Attacks Don’t Always Occur In ‘Racist’ Areas.

The Charleston massacre happened in what could be considered a hotbed of minority hatred: The South. So naturally, that there are still plenty of bigotry in the South and efforts must be made to reduce racism in these areas. However, these actions are short sighted, because tragedies such as Charleston don’t always occur in the South, or necessarily a heavily racist area.

For example, you have the hate crime that occurred in 2009, where Keith Luke, a self admitted Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist killed two people, raped and critically injured one woman. All three of the victims where Cape Verdean decent, or African to be more precise. This happened in Boston, Massachusetts, where the assailant was born. A place with no confederate flag and a city that is not known for racial hatred.

You also have Wade Michael Page, another Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist, who killed 6 people at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Again, a place where the assailant was born, a place with no confederate style flags flying, and in a state that is less racist on average than other states in the Union.

Then you have Holly Ann Grigsby and David “Joey” Pederson who decided to go on a killing spree to advance the white supremacist movement, preserve the white race and reclaim their country. I’m not sure this really counts, considering the two went on a killing spree in Oregon, Washington and California. Also, none of their victims where minorities; however, both assailants are from Oregon, which is less racist on average and fosters no confederacy style flags.

The list barely goes on from there, but the point is that it doesn’t take much of a negative influence for anyone to develop a hatred of a particular race or culture. I’m not trying to imply that it is unlikely for racism to exist in left leaning states (at least, that is what the left keeps implying).

However, it does go to show that you may have racial tension in the region, regardless of where that region is located. If anything, you’re more likely to have more racial tension in areas that are more ethnical diverse than areas with less. This explains why New York is more racist than California, despite both states being considered very progressive states (New York has a black population of 17.7%, while California only has 6.6% black population).

The Take Away

I understand why people would feel oppressed and offended by the flag, but I can’t bring myself to muster up any concern over something that is so trivial. I’ve never allowed a symbol or a word have power over me. This is not a defense for the confederate flag or flags similar like the battle flag. This is merely saying that our problems are just much grander than some piece of cloth.

Racism is still alive today. There is no denying that and its probably never going to go away. However, we definitely can’t legislate it out of existence with mundane feel good attempts, that fails to bring us closer to solving the overall problem. Erecting laws doesn’t necessarily force people to like you or obey you. It only incentivizes them to change their behavior. According to the data you’ve seen, there is hardly any difference between the Southern states who choose to cling to heritage than the rest of the union, that have fooled themselves into believe that they’re nothing like them.

There are far too many people who are so obsessed with having a struggle, while forgetting that there needs to be an end goal somewhere. If you choose to obsess over the flag, be my guest. However, racist will always be who they are, whether you have a confederate flag flying over the capitol or not.

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