After a FaceBook conversation yesterday regarding a Confederate flag being flown at a home in a nearby city, I started thinking about the different views.
I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Brighton, Michigan. My parents were from the South, as were many of my childhood friends
parents. Many of them moving to the North in the late 1930s or after WWII in search of better jobs. Our parents talked a little different; we ate a bit differently, drank sweet tea, and taught slightly different manners. I was once told by a school mate that I always had a Southern drawl. I never knew. My grandparents, most of my Aunts, Uncles, and cousins,
still lived in the South. Many of our family vacations were spent visiting family ‘down South’ we would say. It wasn’t until years later that I learned just how many of my school mates had Southern
roots also — more than I had ever
thought. I thought I was special.
All these years later, yesterday, I found myself defending a symbol of my heritage. I was told the Confederate flag stood for hate, slavery, intimidated minorities, and it should be in a museum. My classmate for all those years ago told me how that flag offended him.
Pushing seventy years of age, I have now lived my life longer in the South than the state where I grew up. I have lived in three different deep South states, which included five different cities. In all those places, in all the people I have met, not one has ever associated the Confederate flag with slavery. Not one has ever used the flag to intimidate another person. Not one has ever used it as a symbol of hate. Every single person I have ever known has thought of that flag as a symbol of their heritage. Even people of color looked upon the flag as part of their heritage.
I’m not sure if it’s the difference between rural and city people, but the people I have met, associated with, worked with, and have been friends with, regardless of our skin colors have always said, I’ve never owned a slave, my parents have never owned a slave, nor my grandparents
or great-grandparents. Same was told by the Blacks I have known, that they have never been a slave, their parents were never a slave, nor their grandparents or great-grandparents. They like the rest of us were merely trying to make a living, raise their children, and have a little more than their parents had.
Sure I heard stories of how things used to be, and it was once tough to make a living. But I also listened to the same type of stories from my father when he grew up in Arkansas. Those hard to find jobs was the reason he moved to Michigan in 1939. Was there racism in the
South, my parents taught me there was, but my father also told me of the race riots in Detroit long before I was born.
Are their hate groups that use the Confederate flag as their symbol for their hate? Sure. However, hate groups use other symbols too. Should be offended by their choice of symbols or by their actions? The KKK used white sheets as part of their identity, yet I still use white sheets on my bed. I know that sounds silly, but it makes a point. It’s not the object a group decides to use that we should be offended by but the actions of these people.
If you make a judgment of another human by what you see before you know them, are you not just as guilty of racism? On the nightly news, I see reports of violent, life-threatening attacks on people because they have a different political opinion. That offends me, not their black hoodies, their black scarves worn over their faces, or their backpacks.
Sadly, I believe this great country is heading for another civil war. We have a congress and many Americans that feeds off of hate. Blind hate. I say blind hate because there is no compromise or conversations, only hate for what the other side believes or wants. A fight between Liberals and Conservatives. This has been festering for forty or more years. Our being offended by everything is bringing it all to a head.
Some of you that just read my thoughts will say I have never experienced racism. When I first moved to the South, when I would go out shopping or out for dinner, the second I opened my mouth, I would hear, “Well, you’re not from around here, are ya?” It wasn’t said nicely. I once had a note left on my work station telling me to go back North. My co-workers couldn’t stand my Yankee accent. People made fun of the way I spoke all of the time. I was even called a nigger lover because I was friends with a black girl. But there are ignorant and hateful people everywhere. After
living years in the South, when I would go back home to Michigan, people would make fun of my Southern accent. For years I felt as if I had no home.
So are the thoughts of this older woman that has lived in eleven different states and numerous cities. There will always be haters, but try not to
be one. Don’t be offended by our heritage. as all of our forefathers did despicable things, many in the name of religion. Learn our history and learn from it. Stop sugar coating it and trying to cover it up. Don’t let it be forgotten, or we will fail again.
Remember, (stealing a line from a song), No
body’s right if everybody is wrong.