Opinion: Making a stand against racism - Republican Youth

You have probably seen this flag before, but do you know its history? Living in Ireland, it's forgivable if you don't, but let me give you a quick history lesson on the Confederate flag: The Confederate flag was created by white supremacists in the later stages of the 1800's when the southern states of the USA (Confederate States of America) fought to protect the act of slavery. This flag is used by many white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, the Klu Klux Klan being one example. In recent times, many Black American's have found themselves victim to racial abuse from these groups who fly this flag in spite; to show the world that they are openly racist and that they are in fact proud to be racist. White supremacy has always been rife in the USA, particularly in the southern states, but society has very rarely given it the chance to multiply and popularise itself due to the public condemnation of such views. But when Presidential administrations give people like this fuel, their ideologies explode and spread like bigoted wildfire into the wider community.

President Trump's relaxed view towards white supremacists and their behaviour has given them a platform to spread their racist, bigoted message to places far and wide, sometimes to places where it is met with fierce opposition and rightfully so. August 2017 saw anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, get physically attacked by white supremacists – one of these protestors died, her name was Heather Heyer and she was 32 years old. Statues of Confederate "heroes" are finally being torn down all over America, but it's extremely sad that it took a young woman to be murdered for people to react and realise that those who fought to protect the inhumane act of slavery should not be remembered in such a positive way.

Being Irish, it's always been in our blood to empathise and support those who are being victimised and discriminated against. We continue to live through our own oppressive struggle, and our ancestors faced hardship when they emigrated due to famine and circumstances beyond their control. The Irish people are overwhelmingly opposed to war, and our sense of charity is one of the strongest in the world. Our own experiences are why we must stand with the Black community in America, and elsewhere for that matter, who are being personally discriminated against on a daily basis due to the colour of their skin. We must show solidarity in whatever way we can and one of the ways is to officially ban the Confederate flag being flown on Irish soil, both north and south. I see it being flown in my hometown of Portadown, full well knowing that those flying it do not know what it means – or maybe they do? That's a scary thought. 

Sinn Féin Republican Youth will never tolerate racism and will always openly condemn such behaviour. We stand in total solidarity with the Black community, the BLM movement, and all those publicly protesting against white supremacism.

 - Niamh Ní Chíosóg

Ógra Shinn Féin