Something has been weighing pretty heavily on me the past few days. I have had a few small discussions on the issue, but haven’t gotten too far into it. I wanted to share this, not for attention, but because I thought it needed to be done.
It’s no big secret to my friends that I love to hunt, fish, camp and do pretty much anything outdoors. I have always considered myself to be a country boy stuck in the city. One of the ways that I used to show pride for my lifestyle was wearing t-shirts with the Confederate/ Rebel flag on them. In high school, I even had a bumper sticker on my truck that read “Keep It Flying”. I had grown up seeing the flag regularly, and although I had seen it used in negative ways on occasion, I chose to accept the “Heritage not Hate” and “Pride not Prejudice” interpretation of the flag. If you had asked me back then, I would’ve told you that it was a symbol of southern pride and had nothing to do with racism.
I was raised pretty close to downtown Nashville and grew up with kids of all races with all kinds of backgrounds. I played baseball, basketball and football on teams where sometimes whites were minorities. I am very thankful for this. As I continue to grow and learn, I realize that we tend to fear things just because we don’t understand them. Because of where and how I was raised, I never feared people of other color or background. I was able to realize that we are all the same underneath. I have had white friends, black friends, Asian friends, Middle Eastern friends, Latino friends, Christian friends, Muslim friends, Atheist friends, etc. Thankfully, I have never had a racist bone in my body.It wasn’t until well into my college years when I began to start thinking for myself. I no longer let the people I was raised by tell me how to view every issue and tried my best to be more open-minded. I believe that one of the most important things for us to do as humans is to try putting ourselves in others’ shoes before we make any kind of judgement.
Although I never meant anything racist by sporting the Confederate flag, I couldn’t help but think of what some of my black friends thought about it. I really can’t think of a time that I was confronted about it. Did it not offend them? Were they too nice or afraid to confront me about it? The more I researched about the history of the flag, the worse I felt. What I had been told about its history was wrong. Thousands of southerners still fly the flag with no racist intent. They still defend the good things they’ve been told about the flag. They, like I once was, are WRONG. The flag is a symbol of a way of life that was wrong. Not that it needs to be stated, but slavery is one of the most evil and cruel things this world has ever seen. The Confederate flag represents this evil. Where is the pride in that? The Confederate flag is also a sign of division. How can you truly be a patriot of this country and fly this flag? Do we really need to fly a flag to show that we are southern, or that we like to hunt and fish, especially when it’s offensive to so many? It is not a kind thing, a good thing, or the right thing to do.
To those against removing the flag, I do not think you are a bad person. I know what it once meant to me. I do, however, challenge you to do your research. Step outside of what your family taught you and be open-minded. Even if you believe in a different history lesson, is flying a flag worth the pain it causes others? Please try to view these issues from the other side of the argument.
To those I may have offended in the past, who never confronted me, I apologize. I was WRONG.
As our country continues to move forward on equality issues, I believe the only place for the Confederate flag is in our history books.