Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I want a symbol for ALL of the South

I’m from Kentucky. I lived there for the first 22 1/2 years of my life. Kentucky was a slave state that stayed in the Union. Kentucky was the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Kentucky had more union divisions than confederate divisions, but I wonder some times if Kentuckians know this, as they love to talk about - and invent - Southern veterans among their ancestors. With such a mixed history, is Kentucky the South? I think it is. Having traveled extensively all over the USA, Kentucky, in my mind, fits better in the South, culturally speaking, than the midWest. I have always identified as a Southerner.

We don’t need the Confederate flag to represent the South. We never have. It represents only one group of people: white Southerners who believe Southern states had a right to enslave black Africans and their descendants. That is the heritage it represents, period. It's a hurtful symbol not only for black Americans, but for white Americans, like me, who find it a painful reminder of inhumanity that permeated the region I call my home. It represents the worst that white Southerners can be. To see it flown outside state legislatures, to see it a part of state's flags now, is disgusting.

There are so many better representatives of the South: our food, our music, our literature, our friendliness and kindness, our diversity, and on and on. People descended from African slaves are an integral part of the vibrant soul of the South, of the overall culture I love. I love it all. I love the South. And I think the South deserves its own symbol - because we are special, we are unique - but one that represents ALL people in the South and what’s best about us - all of us.

That’s a flag I’ll proudly fly.

I've also traveled all over the world, and it's disturbing to see the Confederate battle flag so popular in so many countries. I've seen it in parades, and sold in gift shops on hats. I've asked people if they know what it means. Some have no idea, and some say they think it means rebellion. But I've no doubt some of them know it's a symbol of oppression against black Americans - and that it's their legal way, in their countries, of expressing "white pride."

The battle over this flag and what it represents has to go worldwide. And we've also got to let people worldwide know the beautiful land and culture that is the South - they really have no idea.

Someone commented on a similar rant, "Are we going to eridacate[sic] the entire Civil War from our history also"? No. Just as Germany doesn't fly the flag that flew over its country and soldiers during World War II, but still remembers and acknowledges that war.

Also see: The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

One more thing: the majority of Confederate states had armed military divisions fighting for the North. Yes, you read that right: people from each of nine Southern states banded together, under their Southern state identity, formed a military division, and fought for the Union during the Civil War. Only two non-Confederate states, California and West Virginia, had divisions fighting for the South (Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland, which also had at least one armed military division that fought for the South, each had rebellion groups that claimed to be a part of the Confederate government, and these were recognized by the Confederacy). So if you think the South has always been a unified in its hatred of Abraham Lincoln and the North, you would be wrong.

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