As I scrolled through Facebook on our rainy Saturday, I was very disturbed by a video that was posted. This video was taken in the Food Lion parking lot on Jefferson Davis Highway. The video showed a scene that will take many straight back to the days of the Civil Rights Movement: trucks, over one hundred, proudly waving their Confederate flags were parked in an effort to – do what exactly I am not sure. Instigate, intimidate, I’m not sure the young people even understood why they were there. It was shocking and horrifying to say the least.
I was born and raised in the South, the soft Virginia drawl lulling me through childhood. I grew up with cotton fields on three sides and a cow pasture across the street. I enjoyed the slow pace of life in my small Southern town. It rolled on through slow and steady, just like the river. Ahh, the rivers – surrounded by water and salt marshes, we swam and jumped from rope swings, and some who were far more adventurous jumped from the bridge into Jones Creek. We drank Boone’s Farm late at night in the back of someone’s daddy’s truck on a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. We ate shrimp and grits, fresh buttered biscuits and sang our hearts out to Willie and Waylon. We went fishing and muddin’and loved our hometown football team. In all my years, we never once flew a Confederate flag. Our “heritage,” as so many call it, was seen in our manners, how we treated others (with kindness and gentle voices) and how we helped out our neighbors when times were tough. That is a heritage to look back on.
This is a tumultuous time, and raising children at any time is hard, but especially so now. I have to educate my children, as I wish so many had done before me. If this had been done, we would not still have hate-filled parades rolling through. I have had it up to here with this “Heritage Not Hate” slogan that I keep seeing. This is the most uneducated, ignorant statements to flow through my ears. Whose heritage is this? It is not mine, not my children’s, my mother’s, my husband’s etc. This is hate. This is a symbol of the first seven Southern states deciding to secede from the United States of America. They were fighting to defend their “right” to own the more than 3.5 million African slaves who were in the South. After the Civil War, which the South lost (just in case you hadn’t heard), the flag was only brought out at war memorials and/or remembrances. The flag reappeared with a vengeance in 1948 when President Truman integrated the military and backed several anti-lynching laws that riled up those in the South. The flag was flown in support of the Jim Crow laws. For those of you who do not know, Jim Crow laws were racial segregation state and local laws enacted after the Reconstruction period in southern United States that continued in force until 1965 (Civil Rights Movement), mandating racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern U.S. Yes, this flag was brought out in support of laws keeping human beings from being able to sit at a counter with other human beings, drink out of the same water fountain, and use the same restroom, among many other things. This is a flag that supported oppression.
Do you have the right to fly your flag? Of course you do. However, I do not feel like it needs to be shoved in my face, as I am greatly offended by it. As it is your right to fly it, it is my right to despise it, and thus is the greatness of the United States of America. This flag represents a horrible history in our country. We can change that – you, me, and even the people flying the flag. Put the flag down, extend your hands, and help guide this world – this country – into a pattern of peace and acceptance. We are barreling down a path that is going backwards at an alarming rate, and only we can stop it.