Friday, June 19, 2015
I attended the Spoleto festival some years back. A friend of mine was in the orchestra (he may read this and may want to comment) so he snuck me into the rehearsals and the concerts, and I slept in a College of Charleston dorm with the orchestra. Emmanuel AME Church is just 3 blocks from there.
One thing I definitely remember about Charleston was that the racism was palpable -- so thick you could cut it, in fact you needed a sharp knife. The city was completely segregated. The only black people you saw around the touristy part of town were menial workers, and the audiences at the concerts were 100% white. When my friend and I left town, we stopped for gas in a big, block-owned gas station in a black neighborhood, and the miasma of resentment was inescapable. Maybe thing have changed a bit -- it seems like it, from the news reports -- but Dylann Roof didn't just happen. Judging from the way his friends are talking, yeah, he was a little more up front but they didn't think there was anything strange about his virulent racism.
As for the Confederate flag. Yes it celebrates heritage, but the specific heritage it celebrates is white supremacy and treason. And, as I have asked before, exactly what is it supposed to mean on all those pickup trucks in Connecticut? Just the same thing it means in South Carolina, I would say. It certainly isn't about Connecticut history and our Civil War dead.