Part 4: The Confederate Flag

Here it is, Part 4.

If you are just jumping in now, I started a series of writings on the confederate flag directly after Memorial Day. This blog was birthed out of a deep sadness at the realization that there are people here in my current hometown of Winston Salem that think the confederate flag is not offensive. It all started when I posted in an online Mom's group asking about the potential for Confederate flags at a parade I wanted to take my son and husband to. Mj loves flags, and they have the largest regional parade not far from our house.  After 24 hours and a firestorm of comments, I deleted that post. Several women were outspoken in total surety about their stance that the flag WAS NOT offensive, that it represented heritage or a pride in being from the south, and many scoffed that anyone would still find that flag offensive and mentioned "getting over it" among other things that made me nervous and restless. For every woman that wanted to hold onto the confederate flag as appropriate and just, there was another woman standing firmly that the confederate flag is a symbol of hatred, violence, racism and that it has no place being flown or represented.
Thus ensued:
Part 1 (the first time I saw one in REAL LIFE)
Part 2 ( Welcome to the South)
Part 3 (Our 1st Southern Memorial Day Parade)
and now part 4.
 It took me two months to write this. Or compile it, because none of the following words are mine. To be honest, I had it all compiled already but it was so full of pain and weighty truth that I let it sit in my computer for two months because it was too much.

See, I want to share truth.
Most of the time, I mean the gospel when I say that. I want to share with everyone how Jesus heals, how He loves you and died for you, how He saves. I want you to know Ive seen/see the creeping, stalking darkness and how Jesus holds it back and plucks me out and lifts me up even though Im a feisty, rebellious, angry hot mess and don't deserve it.

But today I want to share the truth of what Black men and women from all across the country see when you fly the confederate flag, or when they look upon these "monuments" of celebration of confederate soldiers and battles.
I thought to myself, I bet these moms/women in this group who feel this way don't have any Black friends. Maybe if they knew, maybe if they heard HOW this makes people feel then they would never ever say the things they say.
I think relationship heals our hurt places and shines light and overcomes ignorance. I commented asking the women who thought the flag was not offensive to go out to coffee with me and talk about it. None responded. I messaged a few of them, and never heard back.

So, Ive asked 25 of my African American friends from many different states to take a minute to verbalize for you in their own words/pain what it means to them to see that flag flying.
They do not owe you this. 
I wish I could have found another way to get through to you.
Im praying you read their words slowly and with reverence as these are their own words and experiences.
My relationship with many of them allowed them to speak safely, and openly...even bluntly at times, and thats a gift for you.

These people are ages 18-45ish. They are listed here anonymously by the state they currently reside in, but many of them grew up elsewhere so don't look to long at the geographic location where they currently are. There are quite a few pastors included, a few people who work in politics and law, some teachers, a student, 2 moms who currently stay home with their children, people who work in ministry, a few artists (writers, rappers/singers, dancers, and poets), a few friends in the hospitality industry and a salesman or two.

Indiana
-When I see the confederate flag I immediately think of the deep South and the Jim Crow era here in the United States. I think of racism that is fueled by hate and ignorance and it makes me think of the Ku Klux Klan. I would have to say that I believe this is largely because of how I have been exposed to this flag via media over the course of my lifetime.

Georgia:

-My immediate thought is that that person is racist. And depending on where I am or if I'm alone or who it is (white men) there is an element of fear that rises up in me. Historically, since it's represented people who are willing to enslave black people and fight for that right, that's all I see. Add to that the fact that it is used as a symbol by white supremacist groups post slavery. I hear people say it's a historical artifact and a sense of pride in the south, but it's difficult for me to separate the two. How do you celebrate a war fought over people wanting to keep slaves and proudly display the symbol, and then tell me that you care or I shouldn't be concerned? The truth is a person displaying the flag may not be harmful,  but I can't afford to take that chance, so I am leery and stand guard.

Tennessee:

-I feel sad, angry, frustrated, confused and distraught. Deep within me it evokes feelings of unsettledness and fear. I think immediately of the oppressive and killing supremacist organizations that have used it as their symbol and rallying point. The thing that I have the hardest time with is the absolute resolve that many people have, who defend their use of the flag without any conceptual understanding of its true historical significance. For people to so blindly say that it has no real racial or slavery based connotations without an ability to articulate the significance of the flag historically themselves is maddening. It is very difficult when fellow followers of Jesus operate in this fashion and then cannot understand how I can take any sort of offense to it, even though they don't share my experience as a person of color.

Arizona:

- Slavery. Bigotry. Klansmen. To me, Its synomous with a burning cross.
- Is this really your "heritage?" I wouldn't want my identity to be tied up with a symbol that other people associate with slavery. And here in Arizona, there are more Mexican people than Black people. Even the Mexican people here know to be afraid of anyone representing it, so it's like an all encompassing hatred for anyone not white.

Illinois: 

- It makes me so angry I want to set it on fire when I see it!! It's another reminder to me that racism still exists. I don't see them too much in Chicago, but there is this one house that I see it in their front yard every time we drive through Indiana to see family.
- I think of hate. And racism. And White supremacy. Because of what it was associated with, and who.
-Now since I know what it stands for (I learned the meaning in an African American History class at my college), it means like the dark side of America because of all the hate behind it.
- I think 3 things: Racist. the KKK. Southern states.
- At first, it made me angry to see it and I thought it was super racist. But now, in a way, it just makes me sad because I see a group of people who are fighting for a space of humanity and dignity and an importance that they think has somehow been robbed from them. It makes me sad because the type of people that I have seen supporting it(mind you, it hasn't been many up here)
- I think of the complexities associated with America's inability to address its lingering race problem. I think of the civil war and that its subsequent end didn't address the harm that slavery brought. And the confederate flag, the rally symbol of the civil war, is reminiscent of that harm for me. 
-Since I was born and raised in Chicago, as a child, it meant nothing to me and I saw it as a flag that was a curious preference to those who lost the Civil War. Then, in books I'd see it displayed in the context of night riders and lynchings, and subliminally associated it with violence against African Americans. As an adult, when I learned that in some southern states, it was displayed on some state flags and that the U.S. flag was not preferred at some official venues, it then dawned on me that the Conferdate flag was an emotional and religious conduit for those who needed to believe that their lost era would return.

California:

I feel scared. I went to west Virginia one time and they were flying everywhere. It made me feel like I was surrounded by hate. I mean, just think. It basically means you were rooting for the south. If the south would have won the civil war, slavery would have continued and who knows what I would be today? So basically you're celebrating an alternative reality in which I as a black person continues to be dehumanized and enslaved.
- I think, Who is stuck in the past and thinks its ok to put it on a display someplace other than a museum? Because I do not think there is any justification for proudly displaying a flag that represents racism and those who hurt and killed and treated unfairly black people in an effort to protect their way of life, their economy, their status. 
-I think it is a reminder of a few things...1. a horrible history of racism and oppression, 2. A reminder that people still think that way and 3. a reminder that we haven't gotten that far beyond "the south."

Virginia:

- Ill list the ones that pop into my mind: 1. Scary!!! 2. Why??? 3. Were any of their family confederate soldiers? 4. Are they racist? 5. Maybe not everyone that sports that flag is a racist?
I used to just straight up think the confederate flag was very racist and insensitive. Then I moved to virginia. I realized for some people it is just a part of their history. So now I ask alot of questions and dont make assumptions. Do I still feel uneasy when I see it? Absolutely. Pretty much anything that represents the old south reminds me of lynchings and slavery and scary stuff. Especially anything that ever stood for keeping the south the same as it was.

Ohio:

-I think that these people hate me because the color of my skin and that they want to enslave me.

North Carolina:

-The confederate flag is a symbol of hate and bigotry to me. It also reminds me of the institution of slavery. Every time I see the flag it angers me, but it also serves as a reminder that we have more work to do in this country.
- It pisses me off. Racist as hell and Im just supposed to be cool with that?
- I don't approve of the confederate flag and when there are symbols of hate that trigger fear for people, then we should take them down. 
- It's racist.  Everyone knows its racist but what can we do about it? White people gonna do what they want to do and they don't care how black people feel about it. Definitely not in the south they don't care. 
- I feel unsafe when I see it and then scared and fearful for my kids and myself. It also reminded me of the harsh reality that people still see me as less than, second class, or inferior because of the color of my skin.
- Whenever I see the confederate flag, I automatically associate whoever is displaying it as a racist. I hear people say it's not a racist thing, but a culture thing, and I believe thats the same thing. When the confederate flag was created it was during a time the south did not want to give up their slaves that they deemed as their property. In their belief it was their given right and part of their "culture." Now, fast forward to the present and how can you say I am a proud southerner that hangs the confederate flag and believes in that "culture" and then turn around and say I am not a racist that once wanted to keep another ethnicity as a piece of property. As an African American, I can't see that difference. I just read between the lines and stars that are hanging on the back of that persons trunk. 

New York:

-Well, I grew up in Virginia and had to understand a lot of the history, but also I understand that it is a symbol of a nation that wanted to use me as currency. 


In closing, is there anything worth subjecting another human being to this turmoil and pain?   If you are a Christian, of any denomination, then Ill go ahead and tell you your flag and your monuments are not. Your identity is first in Christ, so lay down your idols and repent. 


Im still down for coffee, message me. don't be scared. 

Comments

  1. Well, I am not African American and I feel any one of that ethnicity would truly be offended by the Confederate Flag as it can be seen as offensive. Being a White Woman born and raised in North Carolina I have always inserted my eye roll and judgement on those that still display this flag. I am very proud of my Southern Heritage, and hold dearly the history that has carried through my family. However, my ancestors were based in the Western parts of North Carolina and I was only ever taught the history of the music, food, and traditions of the southern Appalachian mountains. I have noticed an increase of the flag being displayed in the smaller parts of our Piedmont region, and I would ask anyone who reads this to not portray your image of our State of NC on the ignorance that flies these flags. These are smaller communities that I feel trickle throughout the South that have truly not "branched" out, leading close ties to their families and traditions.

    The Confederate Flag was initially a portrayal of Southern Pride throughout the Civil War, and has gone through many variations of designs since then. The one that is shown today is not the original design of the Confederate Flag, and during the Civil Rights movement and a devastating time in our country there were those that used this flag to convey, "White Pride." It is awful, and I cringe when I see it flying high knowing that the ones that are proudly waving it truly have no idea what emotional consequence they are stirring up in our community.

    That being said, I feel deep in my heart that even bringing "notice" to this flag (whether for or against) only stirs up even more emotions and hatred. Jesus did not walk this earth for us to hold onto the pain of the past, and Satan uses these emblems to keep that hate going. He would not have had you feel so passionately to only ask your African-American friends if he did not want a page full of hate. God would want LOVE!!! So, I pray that you are able to look past these people who truly have no understanding of what they are doing, and just love them like Jesus would. This does not mean that we have to like or agree with what they are doing, but holding onto such anger and hatred only creates an even smaller space for God's light to keep it's home in your heart or to let you shine your light so bright for all the world to see. I see it every time I see you and in your child. Don't ever lose that!

    1 John 2:11
    But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

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