This post was originally posted on onelyric’s FB wall. This is not a usual post for this blog-but I feel strongly about the words below.
You are probably wondering why I posted these pictures. Especially on a random Tuesday.
This past week a picture of a drowned Syrian boy lying face down on a Turkish beach circulated my news feed. Directly under the picture, was a picture that a FB friend had posted about an upcoming confederate flag rally in Washington D.C. with a war cry I have heard many times before “The South will be heard! Our rights will not be taken away! We will rise again!”
I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee. The controversy about the Confederate Flag has loudly taken over my FB feed, since many, many of my online friends are “Southern.”
As I looked at the picture of the little boy laying lifeless on the beach, and then of the flag boldly declaring it’s rights, I realized the two images were telling the same story. It’s a dialogue of power. Of a dividing of humanity, of people, into sub-groups of value. That the very basic principle that all men are created equal has never and may never exist in this world.
I understand the historical beginning of the Confederate Flag. I really do. I know the history behind the Civil War, that the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy, declared their succession from the United States after the election of good ole’ Abraham Lincoln. And why? Because Abe, among other things, was against the expansion of slavery.
So began the Confederacy’s battle for independence and control.
And now, over a hundred years later, we are still battling for control. For the right to wave a flag that became the banner for an army fighting to suppress a black man/woman’s right to basic humanness and freedom.
A flag held by men who viewed these people as property. Property. And treated them as such.
With all due respect, to refute the claim that the Confederate Flag is not a representation of division and prejudice, is to hold on to the very thinking that perpetuates the great racial divide of this country.
And please don’t post another picture of the black Confederate soldier proudly raising the Confederate Flag as he marched to war as a free man to fight for the South. As if he had other options. He earned his freedom by fighting for the men who oppressed him. Manipulation at its finest.
Slavery was the sustenance of racism. It was the defining marker for the powerful and the powerless. The Confederate Army fought to preserve an institution that continues to shake this country. Even now.
And what if? What if the Union Army would have fallen? How long would slavery be an enterprise of the USA? Would this country be the one that parents were fleeing to the ocean for a chance at a better life and safer shores? Would the headlines read of our Civil War?
What if the first African-American male to step off the boat at Jamestown stepped off as a free man? What if from the very beginning he was treated with respect and equality? Would we be divided by events such as Ferguson or the North Carolina church shootings?
I think this is what we are missing when proudly flying and fighting for the Confederate Flag. We are forgetting to ask the hard questions that have escorted us to the place that rallying for the flag is even necessary.
We can’t separate the flag from the thread of history it represents.
We are still fighting for power.
If the South should rise again what exactly will be rising? Literacy scores? Healthier lifestyles? Will we see the decline of childhood obesity, poverty, crime, wellfare recipients or prison populations?
Or will it only rise by winning the right to fly a flag, carry a gun or define marriage?
We are picking the wrong fights. We are too busy pointing fingers, blaming each other, and trying to be heard.
We aren’t listening.
The flag that we hold so dear has a vastly different meaning to so many people. When they see the flag-they see the below images.
We aren’t listening.
We are trying to manipulate their opinion and control their responses with the need to define our heritage as anything but its horrific actualities.
We can’t re-define the truth.
The truth is the white man wasn’t the man in chains. He was the one holding the whip. Holding the bill of sale. Holding the power. Holding the flag.
And since our ancestors didn’t freely give equality, our black brothers and sisters have been fighting for it since. And we blame them for it.
The images of the civil war in Syria are hard to look at. Innocent lives that are bloodied and mangled, caught in the middle of a struggle for power.
The images representing a major theme of our own civil war should fuel in us the same reaction. Mangled and blooded bodies-caught in the middle of a struggle for power.
With that reaction we should fold our flags, place them in historical museums, dig down deep for a little empathy and finally free the black community from a history that we refuse to let them forget-though we demand that they do.
Meanwhile, allowing ourselves to remember, glorify and protect the role we played.
When does it change? When does the battle for control end?
I can honestly say that I am so very proud of my SOUTHERN RAISING-not history-because my parents were the ones who taught us that ALL MEN AND WOMEN are created equal in the eyes of God, and so should be treated that way.
Kindness, respect, family, hard work, prayer, laughter, FOOD; these are the banners of my Southern pride.
The South doesn’t need to rise again. It just needs to stop segregating itself as a place of superior birthright and historical honor. Birthright and honor can be freely given and freely earned. Anywhere.
(Unless of course we are talking about SEC football-segregate and dominate!)
It’s time to write a new story. It is time to re-define “white” Southern pride. If there is anything we should rally for -it is this.