Subtle symbols ring loudly for some.
In recent weeks there was a subtle reminder of a painful period in our country‘s history with a decal of a Confederate battle flag displayed on a truck during a Fourth of July parade in Downtown Newhall.
Some may say, “What is the outcry? What is the issue? It was just a decal in the bed of a truck?”
Well for some it may as well have been a large waving flag, because no matter how small the display the symbolic issues behind it are very large. Large enough to be noticed in a live feed on a small screen. Seeing that said “this is not an invitation for ‘ALL’ to come join in the celebration of this country’s freedom.”
Keep in mind: subliminal messaging is used often in advertising and campaign messaging. It’s sole design is to be subtle yet effective. Slight yet obvious, passive yet aggressive.
As a business owner and productive individual in a growing, diverse community, I have a responsibility to be keenly aware of my messaging. I have a responsibility so that when I am championing for businesses to serve our community, bring jobs and revenue here, I can speak authentically that our community is inclusive and welcoming.
I personally and professionally do not wish to think there is an undertone of racism or hatred here in beautiful Santa Clarita. How can I accomplish that with subtle reminders that there are “some” who hold dear these symbols? How do I explain those moments to my three African American daughters that it’s not here? That it’s not true? I can’t. That’s a question I cannot answer.
Our leadership can only say so much. Our leadership can only say they wish it was not a reality in our community, because we simply cannot control people. As a country we are built on freedom. That’s why we celebrate the Fourth of July. Here is the rub. Symbols like a Confederate battle flag decal remind us that we were not all free. That some of us are just now being acknowledged centuries later that we are all truly free.
Picture this too. Juneteenth was just made a federal holiday weeks before and yet we have subtle reminders of “our country’s heritage” in a Fourth of July parade? The irony of it all really woke me up to the work that still needs to be done.
I would be disingenuous to say in any campaign, in politics or in business, that it doesn’t exist here. Hip-hip hooray everyone, Santa Clarita is clean! Truth is a subtle reminder telling us that it’s here and for some it is who they are and what they will believe until they leave this earth. For others it’s more gradual, more subtle.
I mentioned in an open letter to the editor of The Signal that there’s no place for these symbols in our evolving, diverse community. Notice that I stopped short of saying it can be eliminated. So as a community, we can know and accept those subtle reminders while we carry forward in creating more obvious, deliberate and permanent changes like the one that NASCAR did in banning the flag from their events. Those deliberate, permanent and loud changes impact the small subtle reminders.
I am a realist. A person that can see what is before me and know things do not always stay the same. I learned a long time ago that expecting anything overnight from some is not realistic for the many.
Being relegated to a decal in a truck at best, believe it or not, accept it or not, is more than a subtle change for the better.
Selina Thomas is a 2022 candidate for the Santa Clarita City Council. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the author do NOT reflect those of The Proclaimer or Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and supporters.