Georgia On My Mind

So….

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/confederate-flag-approved-for-specialty-license-plate-in-georgia/

Let’s discuss.  I’m actually moving to Georgia in the coming weeks so this story jumped out a bit to me.  I’ve always had a complicated relationship with the so-called “Southern Heritage” and “Southern Pride” movement.  To me, it is an idea that makes sense on paper but still bothers me at my core. 

In school, I’ve always tried to be fair to those who defend it.  Their parents and ancestors have been in the South for many generations.  Their lives and their histories are tied up in the complex history of the states below the Mason-Dixon.  Why shouldn’t they be proud and allowed to celebrate their past?  The Confederacy was about States’ rights.

And while I can’t say that I agree on all points, understanding and knowing your family’s history is something I think is really important.

However, let’s be clear.  While the Confederacy was fighting for States’ rights, the key right they wanted was the right to own slaves.  The reason that the Confederate flag is such a polarizing symbol is because the Confederacy sought to limit the rights of my ancestors and fought the war in order to prevent their freedom.  While the flag represents history to you, it represents oppression to me and many others. 

We live in a world where many symbols have had their meaning corrupted from outdated and outright hateful movements associated with them.  The Confederate flag is one of those symbols.  It’s steeped in an ugly history with ugly meanings behind it. And because of that, its use as a source of pride is almost a slap in the face to all African Americans, but especially those with ties to the South.

It says that I support my ancestor’s decision to try to keep you from being free. 

It says that your families didn’t deserve to go out and live lives based on their own choices.

It says that I’m proud that my families wealth was built on the backs of other people.

It says that even though I’m “not racist,” I don’t think that what happened in the past was “that bad”.

It’s tough because America as a whole has and continue to has a complicated relationship with race relations.  But there has to be a better way to show Southern pride.  I can’t tell you what to do, but it’s similar to what I said in this post about skin darkening.  It may not be out and out racist, but you have to know that it is going to offend people.

What are your thoughts on the use of the Confederate flag as a symbol for Southern Pride?  Do you think that there is a way that it can be used without offense?  Let us know in the comments.

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