"The Confederate flag symbolizes dehumanization, injustice and pain," says Sharpton.
The public has been criticizing Kanye West's design choice for his latest tour gear, which features the Confederate flag, and now Rev. Al Sharpton is stepping up to the soapbox, too. The activist has teamed up with his National Action Network to call for a boycott of the offensive merchandise that brings to mind the days when slavery was acceptable in the South.
"The Confederate flag symbolizes dehumanization, injustice and pain. It is a stark reminder of an era in our history that was defined by the abhorrent practice of slavery. And it is representative of a mentality that looked upon Blacks as inferiors who needed to remain in the shackles of subservience," Sharpton said in a press conference.
The committee is looking to shut down West's tour store in Los Angeles as well as any other retailers who choose to sell the controversial gear. Among the items in the collection are T-shirts with a Confederate flag and skull with the words "I Ain't Comin' Down," designs of skeletons with Indian headdresses that read "God Wants You," as well as jackets and tote bags with images of the Confederate flag.
The rapper's response to the controversy has been typical Kanye: defiant.
"React how you want. Any energy you got is good energy. You know the Confederate flag represented slavery in a way — that's my abstract take on what I know about it. So I made the song 'New Slaves.' So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It's my flag now. Now what are you going to do?"
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(Photos from left: RevPix/All Access / Splash News, Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)