it’s not about the flag

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It’s not about the flag. It never has been.

A few weeks ago (a month now, maybe?), Jon and I were lucky enough to receive free passes to a Nascar race at Sonoma Raceway. I say “lucky” because Jon grew up twelve miles from Talladega, in Alabama. Nascar is, at heart, a Southern thing.

It was my first race.

The weather was sunshine; the cars were flash. We didn’t even hit traffic. It was a good day. As we were leaving, though, we saw something . . . unremarkable. Well, it would have been if not for the commotion of the past few weeks.

The United States wants to do away with the Confederate flag. It represents racism and black oppression and all that is wrong with the world. So they say. Many Southerners — rebels, if you will — resent this. The Confederate flag is, to them, a part of their heritage, a piece of their past. It also does not represent racism. It represents their fight to preserve the states’ rights. They also “just like it.” So they say.

Since its beginning, Nascar has been associated with rebellion. The sport originated in the Appalachia with moonshiners and bootleggers during America’s Prohibition. Bootleggers needed fast cars to evade the police and deliver their “shine.” They modified their own for this purpose, and then, suddenly, one day, Daytona was a race as much as a place.

And Confederate flags were everywhere.

I am not a Southerner. I have never flown a Confederate flag. But even out in California (or should I say, especially out in California), I’ve seen them around. And when I’ve seen them, I’ve thought, “Ohhh, boy,” but I’ve never thought their owners were bringing our nation down.

Because, really . . .

Where have all the thinkers gone? What happened to A leads to B leads to C? The Confederate flag didn’t create racism, folks. People created racism. People in their narrow-mindedness created attitudes and perceptions and biases. People who lacked education or misused their education, who lacked love or embraced hate, who could not or would not see the humanity of their fellow man . . .

Yep, folks, racism is about people. The Confederate flag is merely a scapegoat. As such, you can do away with the “Stars and Bars” all you want — nothing is going to change. In fact, things are only going to get worse. In fact, they already have. Did anyone see the story about the former university cop in Cincinnati in the news today?

The only solution to racism is the opposite — acceptance. And love.

What happened to the love?
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The Confederate flag Jon and I saw at Sonoma Raceway.

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22 thoughts

    • I agree, Fraggle. It *is* sad. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on this post on facebook, and I’m realizing just how offensive some take this flag to be. I would never wish to purposely offend someone, or to uphold a symbol of hate, so if the flag is done away with, so much for the better. But don’t expect doing so to fix the problem.

  1. I do agree that LOVE is the answer. But there’s a lot of systemic ignorance/oppression/intolerance that needs to be worked out and uprooted. Many people also don’t understand what love is. Racism is an institutional problem. The flag is a representation of hate fir sine people. Symbols mean something.

    • I wondered how you would feel about this post, Bupe. You are absolutely right that racism is an institutional and systemic problem. I know this sounds crazy and wouldn’t actually fix things, but every time I hear a story about a white cop beating up a black man, I wish I had the power to kick every white cop out of the police force. Maybe all of the white politicians, too. Mankind’s greed for power makes me sick.

      The feedback I am getting from this post has made me realize just how negatively many people feel about the flag. I would never wish to uphold a symbol of hate — you’re right: symbols *do* mean something — and so I agree with getting rid of the flag. I just hope people don’t expect that doing so will fix things. Racism goes a lot deeper than a symbol.

  2. I might get myself in trouble…
    When telling the truth gets one in trouble America is in real trouble.
    Freedom of expression is what they the infamous they want…
    They want to neuter us…because they are either obsessed with control or don’t understand freedom.
    It will bite them…Donald Trump sees it and is twisting it…
    Revolution my dear…or sheeple.
    Love ur mind

    • Trump’s no savior, he’s part of the 1% – parasitic elite. At the moment he’s out-politicking the career politicians. See what happens once he’s in office… business as usual, all bets are off.

      • I haven’t been following all of Trump’s moves and don’t know his agenda. I hate politics and usually avoid posting about controversial topics. But I don’t think Hoss was promoting Trump. You’re right: He’s part of the 1% and even hearing his name puts doubt in my mind.

      • I agree with you, politics has always been about power-grabbing for the elite at the expense of the ppl. Lies & manipulation, everyone should boycott voting, expose it for the outdated corrupt farce that it is.

    • Revolution is far off and I won’t be no sheeple. The best solution (so far as I can see) is to run. Run far away and never look back. There is no fix for this, America’s mortar mess.

  3. I live in the south and I believe that the flag (confederate or otherwise) does not create or cause racism. However, I do have a completely different view on the flag than you do.

    Let me explain…Many people say the flag is a symbol of their heritage. Sure it is…So is the French flag and even a flag of Mexico. Ever hear of the Louisiana purchase? We bought a huge portion of the U.S. from France so should be fly the French flag over states purchased from France to preserve their history? Sorry…We are the United States. So you get one two flags; A unifying flag of our nation and a state flag.

    The rest belong on Molly Hatchet t-shirts and the General Lee. Which I could care less about them being on…just keep them off government property unless it is in a museum or a state park connected to an historical event.

    • I can agree with your view, Steve. Hands down, no problem. We don’t need to be flying symbols of hate in government places. If you like the Confederate flag, wear it on your t-shirt. Fine. (And perhaps this entire argument has raised awareness for some about just how offensive that symbol is to some others. I honestly didn’t know before this controversy began. I would never want to promote a symbol of hate. But…) I guess my whole point was that people act like taking down the rebel flag is going to fix the bigger problem. But it’s not. Not even close.

  4. I totally agree with you. We have neighbors — a family that includes a son who is now in his early 20s. He occasionally puts a Confederate flag in his truck and drives around with it there. Not all the time, just some times for some strange reason. I agree there’s nothing to be done with that. I firmly believe in the individual’s right to make whatever statements they want. And doing so in California will likely do him more harm than good. What is particularly fascinating about his flag to me is that as far as I know his family has no connection with the South and its history and traditions … which really makes one wonder what meaning he gives to flying that flag. But, again, he’s an individual. Freedom of speech gives him the right to do this if he wishes.

    But where I draw the line is when governments still insist on flying the flag. There’s no place for that because of what the flag represents. Yes, racism is something that is in people, but it should not be in our governmental institutions.

    • I fully agree. Writing this post and the responses I have gotten from it have made me realize just how strongly many people associate hate with the Confederate flag. As such, yes, absolutely — get rid of it in government places. If people want to wear it on their t-shirts because it means something else to them, fine. That’s their right. Just don’t expect getting rid of it to fix the problem. The symbolic flag is a byproduct of what lies within.

  5. I have no idea about flags in America so this piece was certainly an eye opener for me. “racism is about people” You hit the nail on the head there, Jess. Racism, it starts with us and our fear for the Other. And it starts with us to put an end to it all.

    • Yes, Mabel. I thought about my international writers when writing this. I knew it wouldn’t hit as close to home for you as for those who live in the States. The institutional racism here is terrible, and I am so sick of hearing stories that deepen that racial divide every day. I can’t help that I’m white, but sometimes I wish that I weren’t. I don’t want to be on the side of the “bad guys.” My point with this post, though, was simply to say that we need to focus on the root of the problem because doing away with the flag won’t fix anything. However, if the flag is really the symbol of hate that many take it to be, then, yes — get rid of it. That is at least a step in the right direction.

  6. Hmmm. Symbols are very powerful. The Confederate flag doesn’t belong anywhere on any govn’t property: state nor federal. The flags must be today’s flags. Not historical.

    It sounds like some people in the U.S.wear the Confederate flag as some sort of rebellion (and thoughtless) statement with loss of historic context.

    Just to give an example: I wouldn’t be interested in dating a guy wearing a Confederate flag. I don’t know how else to state how insensitive or ignorant that flag appears to me and many others. bring it right down to the personal level and “what would you truly do”. Rather than talk theoretically about it and look at neighbours.

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