Heritage or hate? A musing about the Confederate battle flag.

Tony Gerard posted this on his Facebook page in August, 2015, and he brought it up as another point view in discussion related to the Confederate battle flag. We thought it merited posting here as it is a unique perspective from the usual assumptions the media makes about the flag.  We welcome your views in the comments below.

Today we were headed to Paducah when we saw this guy on a Johnson county (Illinois) overpass waving a Confederate battle flag. Is he a racist? I have no idea who he is, but I bet he would say he is not. I bet many of my black friends would say he is. It’s a cultural misunderstanding, and it’s one in which I think I can see both sides.

 

Photo Tony took of the guy waving the Confederate battle flag.

Photo Tony took of the guy waving the Confederate battle flag.

Most of my white southern friends would say the Confederate battle flag is a symbol of southern heritage and pride. Ok, so this guy is in Illinois- a state which fought for the Union. Ok, so you can say that southern Illinois was full of southern sympathizers during the civil war and culturally we southern Illinoisans are actually southern. We say “ya’ll” and we know that real barbeque is slow cooked pulled pork (not that weird sloppy joe stuff they call barbeque elsewhere). We have cypress trees and cottonmouth snakes here. But it’s not just southerners who lay claim to the Confederate battle flag. Kid Rock and Ted Nugent are pro-Confederate battle flag and those guys are both from Michigan!

Background article on Kid Rock and his attachment to the Confederate battle flag.

An article ranting against Ted Nugent’s record as a villain.

In 2015 Nugent talks about symbolism.

Driving home last month from Los Angeles I saw trucks (always trucks) flying Confederate battle flags in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Missouri. So were these guys in Arizona and California displaced southerners? I doubt it. The Confederate battle flag has become the symbol of redneck pride. Redneck pride may have started out as a rural southern thing, but it’s evolved. Rural folks all over America have now taken pride in their status as rednecks. Larry the Cable Guy, redneck icon, is from Nebraska. But being a redneck is pretty exclusively a white thing. Are rednecks racists? I’m sure many are but I’m just as sure that most are not. Is the Confederate battle flag a symbol of white supremacy for them? Nope. It’s a symbol of their status as hard working, hard partying, boot wearing, unpretentious, sleeveless T shirt wearin’, truck drivin’ rural folks. Racism has nothing to do with it.

Larry the Cable Guy on how he talks:

Regardless of what it means culturally to those folks, this flag did start out as the BATTLE flag of a group willing to die to defend the right for one group of people to hold another group as property.  Yeah, yeah, you can say that the civil war was fought over state’s rights, but it was the right to have slaves that was the biggest point of contention.

When did people start displaying Confederate battle flags as a personal statement? You don’t really see them in southern pictures from the 1920’s, 30’s or 40’s. It seems to have started in the 50’s and become more widespread in the 1960’s and early 70’s. During the civil rights movement. Where do you see it? Among the supporters of segregation… and yeah, that was a racist thing. So can I really expect black folks to just get over their distaste for it because I’ve explained that it’s no longer a racist thing? Probably not.

So where do I stand on it? I used to have a hat with a rebel flag on it. It represented southern pride for me. Did I think about it being offensive to black people? Nope, never gave it a thought. Will I be wearing it now (actually I lost it years ago) just to show that my rights as a redneck will not be infringed? Nope. Now I’ve thought about it. I have many black friends I love and respect. That symbol may make some of them feel bad, and their friendship is more important to me than that symbol.

Advertisements
martin luther king jr painting

NAACP Events Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in Paducah, 2019

The local Paducah Area chapter of the NAACP has several events coming up to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr!

naacp paducah martin luther king jr events 2019

 

Here is the written version:

2019 MLK EVENT SCHEDULE

Jan 18- Blood Drive at Rosary Chapel 11:30-4:30
Jan 18- Mercy Health at Lourdes Hospital MLK program 3:30PM
Jan 19- Community Breakfast at Washington St. Church 9AM
Jan 20th- MLK Essay Contest Celebration at Paducah Middle School 2:30PM
Jan 21- MLK Memorial March and Luncheon at Robert Cherry Civic Center. March at 10:00AM Luncheon at 11:30AM
Jan 21- Youth Workshop- Robert Cherry Civic Center 2:00PM
Jan 21- MLK memorial Church service at Washington St. Baptist Church at 6:00PM

ANNUAL DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. LUNCHEON AND CELEBRATION

A big highlight of the celebration is the luncheon, which will be held at the Robert Cherry Civic Center.

The Paducah-McCracken Co. NAACP is proud to host the 2019 Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon celebrating the life and legacy of a civil rights icon. Expect to receive a wonderful catered lunch along with our speaker Mr. Kevin Greene the great-great grandson of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglas!

Purchase tickets here!

$20 for the general population.

Spread the news and join in the celebrations!

Artizan Made in Paducah

Holiday Celebration! Join us for our party!

We’re having a party and would love to have you join us!  Normally, our group meets at Washington Baptist Church in downtown Paducah on Thursdays, from 6:30-8 PM.  This week, I am hosting our meeting at my new home at 901 North 32nd Street:

 

Many people will recognize this house as the past location for Cardinal Realty.  The house has an interesting history and is zoned as both Commercial and Residential. Half of it will soon become Artizan Made, home to the online collective I run, along with TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List.

Potluck

Bring a snack or drink to share…  If you play an instrument, bring it and maybe we can do some singing…  I am so excited to share this space with the community and hope that this is the beginning of many happy gatherings!

 

6:30 -9:30PM  All are welcome!

 

Come on over!

 

-Rachel Biel

Tim Wise of the White Like Me documentary

White Like Me

by Rachel Biel

 

We had our weekly meeting tonight and watched “White Like Me” with Tim Wise.  Tim grew up in Nashville and his parents decided they wanted him to grow up with an immersion experience. He was one of the few white kids at a mostly black school. The friendships he had there and the leadership he experienced by his black teachers led him to pursue a career that has been dedicated to expose racism.

 

 

The movie is an hour long and looks at many of the systemic inequalities that have been built into our way of life. The footage is often hard to watch as it shows the brutality blacks have experienced, time and time again.  There is a blurb with the video with more info:

The continued prominence of racism is explored through the prism of white privilege in the engrossing documentary White Like Me. Based upon a book of the same name by anti-racist advocate Tim Wise, the film explores the many advantages afforded to whites throughout the history of the United States, and the extent to which they have defined a culture of racial discrimination that continues to this day.

The shameful days of blatant segregation thankfully exist in the rear-view mirror of the country’s history. But although great strides have been made in the arena of racial equality, the residue of discrimination still reverberates in nearly every corner of society. The film argues that the promise of a post-racial society has not yet been realized, and that the deeply embedded traditions of white privilege are largely to blame. “For more than twenty years now, I’ve been trying to better understand for myself and to raise awareness among others how dangerous and damaging it is when white people like me are blind to racial inequality and our own privileges,” says Wise in the film. That search for understanding begins in a study of the laws, policies and institutions that have long informed America’s identity, including the Naturalization Act of 1790, and the initial enactments of programs that ensured social security and veteran benefits.

Whether obvious or insidious in their approach, the documentary contends that each of these instances catered to some level of racial discrimination in their formation, and set a foundation from which individual attitudes and governmental policies continue to operate. White Like Me goes on to explore avenues like education, housing, the prison system, the government-waged War on Drugs, and additional aspects of American society in which racial discrimination still plays an informing role. Along the way, the film also tackles the notion of reverse racism in the age of affirmative action, and the belief that America has moved beyond matters of race in the wake of electing its first president of color. White Like Me handles these potentially inflammatory subjects with great sensitivity and frankness, and supports its assertions with a wealth of enlightening facts and data.

 

The movie was made while Obama was still President. We talked about whether all of the racial hatred we see these days is a reaction to having had a black President and what Tim would have said in his movie if it had been made under Trump. Well, he has a website, loaded with more videos, podcasts, essays and resources:  timwise.org

He has a lot of current commentary on his Facebook page.

We had a short but good discussion after watching the movie. Somebody should take notes as it is too much to remember!  🙂  But, earlier today, I watched another video by Freddie Harrel who has some interesting insights on race and identity.  Here is her TED talk:

 

Finally, when I searched for “White Like Me” on YouTube, another video popped up with Eddie Murphy exploring that theme way back in 1984 via Saturday Night Live. Humor is usually something that speaks to me, but watching it made me sad…  There is still a white club that gleefully blocks out brown and black people.  To what end?  Life is so much more interesting and fun when we can celebrate our humanity and work towards a kinder world.