What Comes to Mind When You See the Confederate Flag?
I was born in the Midwest. Chicago to be exact. Though the area where we lived was pretty mixed, because my grandparents were from Alabama and Mississippi, my upbringing was quite Southern.
For the most part, my dad was the sole source of income. My mom didn’t work much, other than the occasional weekend job. She kept our house clean and cooked most of our meals at home. We went out sometimes, but “soul food” was a regular in our home.
Our parents did a great job at shielding my siblings and me from a lot of the negativity in the world. We lived in a true Utopia within our home. We had movie nights, we played board games, enjoyed drive-in movies, etc.
My siblings and I all had friends of different races, as they were our neighbors and classmates. It wasn’t until we moved to Alabama that I truly became aware of racism. Sure, our history books had taught about slavery, the Civil War, etc. but where we lived, we didn’t recognize any remnants of it. So, we thought it was a thing of the past.
Moving to Alabama and entering a school that was 99% Black was alarming. I can remember seeing my White teachers and thinking, “Surely, they have children. Why aren’t they in school?”
So, I asked. Imagine learning that YOUR teacher saw the education she gave you as not good enough for HER children. *blank stare* So, YOU can teach ME, but your child deserves better than this? In a school of 500 students there are only 3 white children, yet white people are in all of the same grocery stores you shop, the same drug stores, the same hardware store, etc.?
Unlike what my history books taught me, segregation still existed… And it was practiced legally via private school!
I was stunned! However, my education on race issues was just beginning.
I soon started seeing Confederate flags in various places around town. I was told that the flag was indicative of a place where Black people aren’t welcome. So, when I saw them on vehicles, I felt the need to suppress my inner happy self and not speak to the individual as I would anyone else. I feared a vehicle breaking down at night near a home or business where that flag was displayed.
Again, this is what I was taught via hearsay, NOT from my parents.
Even though history classes depicted the Civil War as being over states’ rights and that the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern pride, and every person should be proud of his lineage, I still feel uncomfortable when the flag is displayed.
However, there are some Southern Black people who have accepted it as representing being from the South. They see no relevance to racism, slavery, pre-Civil War, or anything related to oppression.
It is my belief that if we can’t talk about our differences, there’s no way we can learn to accept them. So, what exactly comes to mind when YOU see a Confederate flag? If you’re one of the people who display it, what is your reason for doing so?
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