Shocking, I know. From Disinfo:
The Confederate flag, which continues to fly on buildings throughout the American South 150 years after the Civil War, is a potent symbol. But of what? Cultural heritage, answer many Southern whites. Lingering racism, insist many blacks.
Newly published research provides evidence supporting the latter view. It suggests exposure to the flag evokes anti-black sentiments among whites, regardless of their stated beliefs on racial issues.
Specifically, white students at a large state-supported Southern university who were exposed to images of the still-ubiquitous battle flag judged a fictional black character more harshly. They expressed less willingness to vote for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
“Whether or not the Confederate flag includes other nonracist meanings, exposure to this flag evokes responses that are prejudicial,” a research team led by Florida State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger writes in the journal Political Psychology. Displays of the flag, the researchers assert, “may actually provoke discrimination — even among those who are low in prejudice.”
“White participants exposed to the Confederate flag reported a significantly lower likelihood of voting for Obama than those exposed to the neutral symbol,” the researchers report. (No similar impact was found for black participants.) Exposure to the flag had no effect on their self-reported measures of liberalism or conservatism; this suggests the flag’s psychic impact was on racial rather than ideological attitudes.
The second study featured 116 white students, half of whom were exposed to the Confederate flag via a sticker attached to a folder that sat upon their desks. They read a story about “a young man named Robert who engaged in ambiguously negative and aggressive behavior.”
Specifically, Robert — a young black male whose picture was provided — “refused to pay his rent until his landlord painted his apartment, and demanded his money back from a store clerk.” The results: Those exposed to the flag, which was sitting on the corner of their desks while they took the test, rated Robert more negatively than the others.
It would be interesting to see parallel studies - exposing the confederate flag to non-black minorites i.e. Asians, Hispanics, Middle Eastern or North Africans and another exposing African Americans to the flag.
This study solidifies what all of us know - the confederate flag has and still does symbolize prejudice and subjugation.