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This Flag and Me

It is no secret that I’m political. It
is also no secret that I’m from the South. Heck, watching a few of my Instagram stories is probably
all the proof you need to see that I was born, raised, and live in the South. (The
accent doesn’t lie y’all.
) I’ve always felt like a bit of a political
outsider in the South. When Trae Crowder — the Liberal Redneck — became a
viral sensation, I was thrilled. It was freeing to know that I wasn’t alone in
both loving where I came from and expecting more from it. Trae recently
wrote an article for Esquire that I found myself nodding along to in several
respects. Click over and read it if you have time: My
Dad’s Confederate Flag

Now, I grew up surrounded by this flag
in many ways. I remember buying a
necklace with this flag on it at a
local festival when I was in middle school. At the time, I was very naive and
thought the flag only represented my pride in being from the South. But in the
words of the late great Maya Angelou, “When you know better, do
better.”

I know better now. I know the history of the confederacy and I’ve read of its
horrors. I know what this flag represents to so many people. Growing in the
Texas public school system, I was taught that the war was not about slavery. It
was about state’s rights. The horrors and inhumanities of slavery were, at
times, glossed over by my textbooks and teachers. More importantly, the
systematic institutional racism that followed the war was never discussed. I
was not taught that the Federal Housing Administration explicitly refused to
back loans to black people or even to neighborhoods near locations black people
lived thus creating a disparaging housing environment for people of color. I
was not taught that the government funded studies that deliberately allowed
poor black men to be inflicted with sexually transmitted diseases and that
sterilized poor black and Native American women. I was not taught that black
people are 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug-related crimes
than their white counterparts or that inequitable criminal laws and procedures
have resulted in a prison population that is 58% black and Hispanic despite
those segments only accounting for 1/4 of the US population. I was not taught a
lot of things.

But I know them now. I know them and they haunt me. But more importantly, they
haunt people of color and they continue to impact their lives and the
opportunities they have in this country. So yeah, as a proud Southern woman, I
support tearing down monuments that glorify and honor the confederacy. As far
as I’m concerned, they belong in museums not the town square. And yes, I get
angry when I see people flying a flag that has, and continues to, inflict such
horror and inequality on people of color. I love my country. I love my state. I
love the South. But I also love my friends of color. And the God I serve
reminds me that I should do unto my neighbor as I would have them do to me. And
frankly, I would not want to raise my child in a world where men and flags who
fought to categorize that child as “property” continued to be
glorified. So, I do not think it is Godly for anyone to ask people of color to
do such a thing. They deserve better. Our kids deserve better.

So let’s do better by taking down monuments of Confederate generals and
replacing them with statues of Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, or
maybe Lydia Maria Child. Let’s
quit pretending that the monuments to confederate generals are about
remembering history (they aren’t since most were built either at the height of Jim
Crow or during the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s
) or at least
agree that history is best studied in context and thus, the monuments would be
better suited for museums where the entire sordid story of slavery and the Confederacy
can be told. Let’s reserve our town squares and our college quads for
celebrating people and ideologies that moved this nation forward and brought
its peoples together. Let’s take down the confederate flag and fly the American
one. Let’s tell our history to our youth. Let’s warn them of how it happened —
explain to them how some were able to so easily devalue the life of their
fellow man. Let’s tell them that not everyone who fought for the Confederacy
were monsters but that the Confederacy itself, was one. It was a monster that
sought to tear this nation apart (literally) but that through blood, tears, and
a lot of loss — we survived. America survived. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t
easy. And it wasn’t perfect. It still isn’t. But it is still worth fighting
for…

Let’s be honest. Let’s be real.

But above all, now that we know better — Let’s do better.
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1 Comment

  • Reply Kate Mitchell

    This is *such* a good post! I'm glad you wrote it! When I talk about these things, people who are from the South who support the Confederate flag tell me that I don't get it because I'm from the North. Having someone from the South talk about this is much more influential!

    September 4, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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