Cognitive Dissonance

Since the Confederate flag was created in 1861, there have been many social uprisings over what it symbolizes (Rockingham Community College). There is a plethora of information available about how and why the flag was created, when and why it was flown, and who brandished the cloth for their cause. Even today, with information and facts at our fingertips, there are still so many people who view the flag as a symbol of down-home family pride and all-American heritage, even when there is evidence demonstrating otherwise. The belief that the south needed to defend their homes and that the Civil War was about fighting for their rights are muddied-truths passed down generation after generation, leading to the denial that slavery and treason were at the helm of why the war was fought. Likewise, it is hard to wrap your head around the carefree view of “home”, some think it represents, when your own family and heritage was oppressed by this symbol. When these two views collide, anger and denial follow.

There are many debates about the Confederate flag, especially on social media. Threats, unfriending, blocking, and the like, seem to be the usual ending to this debate. I have seen angry posts from people I know comparing the offense of the Confederate flag to the offense of wearing your pants down low. This example shows some people would rather express their disdain for fashion and stick to their inherited archetypes of the south than listen to facts about the flag’s meaning. Changing minds and hearts from a flag one deems to be tradition to a flag that symbolizes an economy that dehumanized an entire race is hard to do. Unchecked, cognitive dissonance (and unchecked white fragility) can cause a barrier in personal growth.

“A continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement results in a perpetual cycle that works to hold racism in place.” (DiAngelo)

Categories: Leadership, People-First, Reflections

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