I'm a black South Carolinian. Here’s why I support the Confederate flag.

I love the Confederate flag, but I love South Carolina and its citizens more. While the flag’s existence on the statehouse grounds never offended me — and it still does not today — I can’t ignore the deep pain that it causes for many people in my state. I can’t ignore that many can’t love South Carolina as I do until the flag is removed. Continuing to let it fly at our capitol could incite the kind of protests and violence that have erupted in other states that ignore the pain of some of its citizens. I don’t want to see fires, looting and violence in our streets simply because we refuse to let go of symbols of our past. That kind of demonstration would be out of line with the friendly and patriotic character of South Carolina.

Taking down the Confederate flag does not mean supporters of the flag have lost. It’s a message that we refuse to allow the people who use the flag as a symbol of hate to divide us…

Regardless of what happens at the statehouse, I will continue to hang the Confederate flag in my apartment. Because of that decision, I’ve been called “an Uncle Tom” and “a sellout,” and accused of despising my race. Let me be clear: I love the skin that I am in. God gave me my skin color, but he also gave me freedom to think for myself and the right to stand by my beliefs. My skin color should not determine how I think, what I believe and what flags I hang in my home. This process should teach us all to respect the beliefs of others. I hope those who view the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate  will keep open minds to those who view it as a symbol of Southern heritage and history, regardless of their race.