As calls grow to remove the Confederate flag from public spaces across America’s South, Vanessa White says she questions whether that would mark real progress for black Americans like her.

The 57-year-old Compton, California construction worker has seen and endured too much, she says, to be excited. Over the years, five members of her family have been killed by guns: her two brothers, at the ages of 28 and 38; her nephew, at 19; her niece, at 16; and her niece’s mother, at 28. All of them had dropped out of school in their teens.

“We never felt like we were allowed near normal life,” said White, speaking from the tidy, two-story home she purchased last year in the struggling suburb south of Los Angeles.

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