As many people throughout the United States and the world are still coming to grips and realizing that all Black men are not out to get them (however you choose to read that is correct) and what was once thought to be a fact of life and insurmountable for one to consider has been proven wrong by the presidency of Barack Obama.
Today Blacks are forced to embrace this reality as well as Whites and all other races and cultures. I am not as bad as some say that I am and not as good as I believe I am is what many men & women privately confess to themselves. The contradictions are being revealed and the realities are difficult to honestly dispute.
Now it’s rare that I talk about many regional controversial issues like the one that surrounds the Confederate Flag. This is especially true being from the American South where you can easily find this flag. I just want to offer my thoughts, ideas and suggestions about another reality that is controversial for many, the Confederate Flag.
I understand that there are certain groups of people who will find this to be a sensitive subject. Without any assumptions I ask everyone to approach the subject without any preconceived bias, connection or allegiances. To honestly address certain issues with a controversial history with sincerity you must approach it with an open mind.
To reiterate a previous statement I must repeat it to make myself clear. I’m not suggesting that I have the answer to the dispute. I only offer an alternate point-of-view with hopes that it may lead to a consensus regarding the controversy and contradictions of the Confederate flag.
What moved me to bring up the subject of the Confederate flag?
In a previous post titled “The Tale of Forrest Park” I discuss a park in Memphis, Tennessee called Forrest Park that was approved to be placed on the National Historic Sites registry. The Forrest Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans submitted the nomination to the National Park Service in what I like to call a Blagojevich move. I actually admire the move, because it’s legal and shrewd at the same time. Regardless of how some like or dislike the move it was perfectly legal.
The history of the Confederate flag is one that claims heritage and hatred, but to the surprise of both parties I have a different position for each side to consider when thinking about this symbol of history.
For those who may not know this history may be wondering how Nathan Forrest and the Confederate Flag relates?
Well the short answer is that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. You often find the reverence towards this flag given by those who revere Nathan Forrest. It’s hard to separate Nathan Forrest from the Confederate Flag and Nathan Forrest from the KKK and the Klan to the Confederate Flag and the Flag to the Civil War. If you want to go into detail about what all the Civil War was about you may find more resources and reasons for these relationships.
In Nashville there’s a roadside memorial to Nathan Forrest on a horse surrounded by Confederate Flags on I-24 between the Old Hickory Blvd exit of Brentwood and Harding Place in Nashville. At some point each week I pass this ‘exhibit or tribute’ if I decide to take that route home.
Now when this memorial was unveiled years ago it was offensive to me and many others of all races and backgrounds. It represented a symbol of hate, domestic terrorism and discrimination, but when I came into contact with some people who proudly displayed the flag and looked at it as a symbol of their heritage I was confused. How could this flag be a source of high regard with such a sorted history? Back when the terror level was raised to White for the white sheets and members of Homeland Security worn them this flag was often used in their operations or should I say misused. This is the confederate contradiction.
It’s about heritage not hate some claim and that may have been the intended purpose, but it’s hard to dispute the misintended use of this flag as the symbol of choice for those who perpetrated acts of domestic violence years ago and those unreported cases of today.
But today something has changed within me when I see this flag. It does not bother me anymore. It just makes me smile and sometimes chuckle to myself. I smile not out of any respect or disrespect towards the Confederate Flag, but the contradiction and symbolism.
I like how the cartoonist Walt Handelsman illustrated this ongoing confederate controversy or contradiction.
Now I’m not saying that I have the answer to the dispute, but an alternate point-of-view that may lead to a consensus regarding the Confederate flag.
I smile because I know that we all have overcome. Not just Black people, but White, Latino, Asian and Native Americans have overcome. Yes there’s still a racial divide, but no longer does a man on a horse, a coward covering his face with a white sheet or even a flag with a meaning attached of pride and southern heritage or a meaning of hate and fear can divide us.
These things can’t bother me anymore because it doesn’t govern me and is proven to be wrong regardless how you slice it.
Although I understand and can relate to the hatred that some may have towards the confederate flag I choose not to go that route, because the flag has two meanings applied to it. One of hate and one of heritage. Regardless of how I look at it the flag is what it is, a symbol. The symbol itself is not evil or bad, but the meaning applied to that symbol and how it’s interrupted is the issue.
It’s a symbol of regional pride and heritage for some whose family members fought, sacrificed and died in the Civil War. It’s a symbol of hate and fear for some whose family members died at the hands of those who upheld the flag in reverence. Now we can go into detail of the root of the matter of why the North & South were fighting and how that relates to the other meaning of the symbol, but that gets I save the American history lesson for another day.
The point is that this is not a battle for Non-White people to be fighting, because Non-Whites did not hijack the meaning of the Confederate Flag. This is a fight for within the Southern White community and those who reverence the Confederate Flag. The debate is with those who value it to properly reconcile its meaning with those who continue to misused and misrepresented its meaning. The damage is done, now is the time to stop fighting about and over it and reconcile our difference and participate in the union of uniting the state of America.References & Inspirations NPR: Weekend Edition Saturday – 02/12/00 “Confederate Flag”