Chatter over whether South Carolina should continue to fly the Confederate flag, especially after the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, is growing loud enough to effect change: Walmart, Sears, and eBay announced they will ban all Confederate merchandise.
Last week, our very own Veronica Wells asked, “Will South Carolina remove their Confederate flag now?” A symbol of the slave-holding South, critics chastised the SC capitol for flaunting the Confederate flag — even after the racially-motivated shooting at the Charleston Black church, which killed eight.
“This was an act of racial terrorism,” the president of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks, shouted in Charleston, according to CNN. “That symbol has to come down!”
While South Carolina is still stalling on taking down the flag, two big-name retailers — and one massive online auction site — took the first steps in banning the Confederate symbol.
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our web site,” said Walmart spokesman Brian Nick, CNN reports.
Walmart.com carried Confederate flag attire, such as t-shirts and belt-buckles.
EBay co-signed with Walmart, according to Fortune, announcing that it cannot stand by what the flag represents.
“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The online auction site carried Confederate flags and accessories, including jewelry and handbags.
Sears does not sell Confederate flag merchandise, but the company pledged that it will “remove Confederate flag merchandise sold by third-party vendors online,” CNN added.
South Carolina, on the other hand, cannot “ban” the Confederate flag so easily. According to CNN, the South Carolina Heritage Act padlocked it into place after civil rights activists lobbied to get a much larger flag taken down in 2000. Lawmakers agreed, but all other tributes to Confederate history will remain “virtually untouchable.”
In order to toss out the current flag, an endorsement from two-thirds of SC lawmakers would be needed. Good luck with that one; CNN says this is unlikely as many would claim that the flag is not a symbol of racism, but “southern pride.”
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, despite this stumbling block, is still lobbying for the flag’s removal. And it looks like the move to remove the flag from other places where it currently appears — Virginia license plates, the Mississippi state flag — is gaining steam nationwide. Still, there are some who are hanging on with all of their might. Sales of merchandise on Amazon has gone through the roof, up more than 3,000 percent in the last 24 hours.