Charleston
Hundreds of people attended 'Confederate Pride' event in the southern state of FloridaReuters

Hundreds of people have attended a "Confederate Pride" event on Friday, in response to a national outcry over the Confederate flag after the Charleston shooting.

The controversial battle flag of the rebel South flag could be seen flying on the back of pick-up trucks, chopper motorcycles and even tattooed on mens' bare chests.

Marchers on the parade wore on T-shirts adorned with the Confederate flag, with slogans like "try burning this, asshole" and "come and take it".

Around 300 cars were involved in the 'Ride With Pride' rally in Tampa Bay, Florida,.

Organisers said that the event was meant to celebrate Southern heritage and show pride in their homeland, according to the Daily Mail.

Lexy Webb, one of the parade attendees, said to local news station WTSP: "It shows about the Civil War, that we lost, Southern states we lost, it leaves us with the pride we have in the South."

While the Confederate flag – which the slavery-supporting states rallied under during the US Civil War – is seen by many in northern US states as a symbol of racism and oppression. But in the South it is a viewed as a symbol of respect towards Confederate soldiers who fought and died during the war.

The controversy surrounding the Confederate flag has flared up recently after southern states, including Alabama and South Carolina, decided to remove the flag from state government buildings, following the Charleston massacre.

The killer, Dylan Roof, had a number of photographs on his website posing with the flag and visiting confederate landmarks.

Roof, who gunned down nine black people after a Bible study group at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, also wrote admiringly of the rebel states' slave-owning culture.

Confederate pride
Vanessa White has faced racisim and discrimination throughout her lifeReuters

The legacy of racism

The US has begun debating the Confederacy legacy and racism in the country.

However, for some black Americans, the debate about the South's Confederate iconography merely distracts from the real systemic racism endured by the many.

Vanessa White, a 57-year-old Compton, California construction worker is one such African-American who believes that the real debate is being ignored.

She has lived through five members of her family 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.

Her single mother was an alcoholic, and she was exposed to racism throughout her life.

"We never felt like we were allowed near normal life," White said to Reuters.

Although she welcomes the sentiment of ridding state property of the Confederate flag, the systemic racism she has faced, mean that black Americans still face a struggle for true equality.

The various statistical measures for the average black American compared to the white American reveal how unequal American society still is.

The average white family has about seven times the wealth of the average black family in 2013, according to the Urban Institute, a public policy think-tank in Washington.

Since the early 1970s, black unemployment has been consistently more than twice as high as white joblessness, government data show, and more than 27 percent of blacks live below the poverty line, compared to 13 percent of whites.

The unequal figures are not a surprise for people that spend time within black communities.

"Black folks are still being killed; they are still being undereducated; they still have little access to health care," said Melina Abdullah, an attorney who has helped organize community response to a police shooting of an unarmed black man in South Los Angeles.

Removing the Confederate flag, she says, will not solve "institutional racism and a police system that kills black people".