Respecting, celebrating America as a melting pot

Chihak

This is supposedly the Chihak (Cihak) family crest. The Chihaks or Cihaks come from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). When Curt and I visited Prague we found a phone book and found lots of listings for Cihak.

I am proud of my background and where I come from.

I am grateful to be American and have the freedoms I enjoy.

But I am also saddened and angry by blatant racism we are still plagued with in 2015.

We all should be proud of where we came from. But we should also respect the journeys (good or bad) we encountered to get where we are today.

I am proud to be a native Arizonan and Tucsonan. I am saddened by how my home state has been represented. True Arizonans are not racist. They are loving and open minded. That’s how I was raised.

I know I am late to posting on this subject. But I really wanted to think this out and take my time to really reflect my thoughts on racism, discrimination and the controversial subject of the Confederate flag.

I know what it is like to be a woman and be discriminated against because of that. I know what it is like to be scared and cautious because I am a woman. Girls are taught how to be aware of their surroundings. I know what it is like to catcalled on the street.

(This is a great video about how girls and women are treated, feminism, being pretty, etc. If you are easily offended by the F-bomb, you should NOT watch this.)

I know what it is like to have Mexican heritage (75%) and not look “brown” and be discriminated against. I know what it is like to be Mexican American and be questioned because I don’t speak Spanish. I know what it is like to be mistaken as conservative or a Republican because of my home state.

I don’t know what it is like to be gay. I don’t know what it is like to be a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body. I don’t know what it is like to be Black. I don’t know what it is like to be driving doing absolutely nothing wrong and be pulled over because of the color of my skin. I don’t know what it is like to walk down the street and have people scared or suspicious of me because of my dark skin. I don’t know what it is like to worry that people will think I am a terrorist when I board a plane.

But because of where I grew up and how I was raised I was taught to love all. And I do. I have friends from all sorts of backgrounds. And I am comfortable asking my friends questions when I don’t understand something.

I think that’s what racism is really about. It first starts with not understanding. And then hatred. We aren’t born to hate.

I have always been proud of who I am, what I am and where I came from. (And a lot of that comes from a family with a sense of pride.) I am 75% Mexican with a little Irish and a little Czech (or Bohemian as my grandpa says) sprinkled in. I have grown up being proud of my multiple backgrounds and from being from Tucson, Ariz.

When you are proud of who you are and where you come from you become a powerful and strong person.

… And I think that is the problem. Some people are afraid of others becoming powerful and strong. So to make sure that doesn’t happen they keep them down.

What is the need to continue to fly the Confederate flag? People claim history and heritage. Not all history is good and something that should be celebrated.

The Confederate flag represents something ugly and hateful.

The swastika also represents something ugly and hateful.

But the swastika used to (and still does in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism) represent something good. It is a Sanskrit word, svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” … The swastika has become so widely associated with Nazi Germany that contemporary uses frequently incite controversy. (This information came from History of the Swastika, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.)

In Germany, the criminal code outlaws “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations,” such as the swastika, and Nazi symbolism in particular, according to Wikipedia.

If the swastika can be outlawed in Germany when displayed as part of Nazi symbolism why can’t the Confederate flag be banned?

What value is brought on by flying the Confederate flag?

The United States Declaration of Independence states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (This has become a well-known statement on human rights.) Information is coming from Wikipedia.

Do we want to live in a country where people don’t feel equal? That they feel undervalued for the color of their skin, for loving the same sex, for the fact that they are a woman, etc.?

If flying the Confederate flag makes people feel less than equal then shouldn’t we address that problem?

On Friday June 10, South Carolina took down the Confederate flag at the Capitol grounds after a 54-year run.

A good friend of mine grew up in Indiana, the Midwest. His family still lives there. He is now in California.

He said the Confederate flag had no negative connotation for him growing up. I do realize Indiana is not the South. But from some research I did I found that the flag does fly in Indiana, which was a Union state.

From an article I found in the Indianapolis Recorder, an Indianapolis pastor, Rev. Fitzhugh Lyons, said: “For one thing Indiana is a very conservative state, politically speaking. And some extreme conservative organizations are here and they think the Confederacy was correct.”

Also from the article, titled, Confederate Indiana?, according to the Indiana Historical Society, African Americans were not allowed to become residents of Indiana without paying a fee and proving they were free before the Civil War. During that war Indiana contributed over 200,000 to the Union, but a significant number of Hoosiers, especially those who moved from the South and still had relatives there, were sympathetic to the Confederacy and wanted Indiana to be neutral.

My friend said the first time he ever noticed the Confederate flag flying, the first time he saw it in person, was in Georgia by the courthouse and only just recently. And it didn’t make him angry.

When my friend was 8 or 9 years old he went with his mom to this new store called Kmart. He was walking behind his mom into the store when a car with several White men in the car with one yelling at him: “Go home, N-word.”

He still remembers what that man’s face looked like, more than 40 years later.

He turned to his mom and asked, “Mom, what’s a N …?” Her response was, “All Ns are not alike and all Ns are not Black.”

My friend really started to experience racism once he started driving.

I did lots of reading on the history of the Confederate flag from various sources, blog, websites, etc. It was difficult to find neutral, basic facts on this controversial issue.

Initially the Confederate flag represented the first seven states to secede from the U.S. and band together as the Confederate States of America: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, according to Snopes.com.

Also from Snopes.com, the Confederate battle flag has long since become the pre-eminent symbol of the Confederacy and what it stood for, and across the span of several decades it has been co-opted by segregationist and white supremacist groups such as the Dixiecrats, the KKK, and the Aryan Nation. Certainly one can be a racist or a white supremacist without associating himself with “Southern Pride” or a Confederate battle flag …

I do believe in freedom of speech. I think this is a great quote (and I couldn’t say it better myself.) “It (Confederate flag) is also a really divisive symbol that represents a time when the nation was divided. Freedom of speech should be supported, but not to the extent where it offends and incites people,” Rev. Timothy James, administrative secretary of the National Convocation, said in the Indianapolis Recorder article.

America is a melting pot and that should be celebrated. We should be supportive of each other and our various backgrounds. Being different is good and unique.

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