“I have thought of Senator Pinckney’s words since the terrorist attack on Emmanuel AME Church, but instead of the account of Thomas in the Gospel of John, who came to believe after seeing what his sisters and brothers were telling him, I have thought about a different post-resurrection account in the Gospel of Mark: “Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14). I feel sad because it feels as if many are seeing and hearing the testimony of their sisters and brothers of color, but yet they refuse to believe. The hardest part for me when it comes to racism in America is this: My sisters and brothers won’t believe me when I tell them my own experience of racism in this country. They refuse to believe my brown, black, and Native American brothers and sisters, too. There is a dogged refusal in many parts of our country and in our church in this nation to listen and believe the testimony of our sisters and brothers when it comes to the reality of their lives, especially when it relates to the pain and effects of racism.”
MJ: You’re from the UK, which treats firearms very differently than the United States does. How did that affect the film’s outlook? MS: I like to think that it gave me a less judgmental perspective. It’s always weird coming to the US and seeing how powerful the gun lobby is and how passionate some people are about the use of guns when you come from a place where hardly any of our police have guns. I understand philosophically the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment. But consider what practical effect these concepts have. It’s very simple: If there wasn’t a gun in Michael Dunn’s car, Jordan Davis would not be dead, and Michael Dunn would not be spending the rest of his life in prison. The gun created a totally different narrative.
“The Confederacy’s rejection of the Stars and Bars as its national flag and embrace of the battle flag as the central emblem of its “confirmed independence” continues to have great significance today. With the adoption of the “Stainless Banner” in 1863, the battle flag became more than a soldier’s flag; it became a political flag, associated with the Confederate government, nation and cause.
Echoes and ironies abound. Consider the modern history of the Georgia state flag. In 2004, after decades of debate, Georgians ratified a new state flag that was clearly modeled after the Confederate Stars and Bars. The most vocal protest came (and still comes) from Confederate heritage activists, who steadfastly hold on to the 1956 state flag, which bears the Southern Cross battle flag. African-American leaders, though fully aware that the new state flag is based on the first Confederate national flag, said they did not find it troubling; the real Stars and Bars does not carry the baggage that the battle flag (the one the headline writers so often mistakenly dub the “Stars and Bars”) did, and does.
In other words, the real Stars and Bars, the original Confederate flag, is acceptable to them for the same reason that it was not acceptable to Confederates in 1863, and to Confederate heritage activists today: it’s not Confederate enough.”
“This is not the kind of conservatism I grew up around. This is devil-take-the-hindmost conservatism: Every man for himself, and let the unlucky ones starve if it works out that way. These two kinds of meanness together — the Ayn Rand kind and the nasty, racist kind — paint a very ugly picture of modern conservatism.
“So, when I hear someone say that they want to take their country back, I cannot help but look at the person making that statement and wonder, which country do they want? The one that used police to bust up unions? The one that made lynchings a celebratory outing? The one that preached a woman should be happy staying home, raising the kids and catering to her husband’s every whim? The one where homosexuals hid their sexual orientation from all but their closest confidantes out of fear their careers and lives would be destroyed, and that they would be disowned by their families? The one where black people could not eat in the same restaurants at which white people ate, or drink from the same water fountains, or attend the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods or ….