OPINION: I'm Southern, I'm White, And The Confederate Flag Is Racist!

I read a report from USA Today earlier that said the number of Confederate Flag license plates in our state of Tennessee is at the highest point in a decade and it got me thinking about this issue yet again. I grew up in the south, Georgia to be exact, and have heard southerners, specifically white southerners, defend the flag as a symbol of “heritage, not hate” my entire life and no matter how it’s packaged, it just doesn’t add up to me. Let me explain why…

First of all, we must dispel the myths behind the Civil War. When I was growing up, we were taught a plain and simple fact: The Civil War was fought over slavery. I’m not really sure when that fact started being debated, but the rumor that it was about “state’s rights” is an incomplete truth at best and total BS at worst. Don’t believe me? Look at the letters of succession put forth by South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi and tell me how fast you see the word “slavery.” I’ll make it easy for you, you can see all three letters HERE

Now that we have established that the Civil War was undoubtedly fought over white people’s right to own, beat, rape, and murder black people, we can move on to the flag itself. Many don’t know this, but the modern day Confederate Flag wasn’t the actual flag of the Confederacy, a squared version of the modern Confederate Flag started out as the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag, an army commanded by General Lee himself. However, that point is irrelevant to me for 3 reasons: 1) because it was STILL used to fight FOR the enslavement of black people, 2) throughout history and to this present day, that flag has been used as a symbol of racial hatred, specifically against black people by almost every white supremacist group, even the ones NOT located in the south! Seriously, if this flag was only about southern pride, why can you see at every white supremacist rally in every state? And 3) Look at any video of any pro-Jim Crowe political rally during the Civil Rights era and let me know how many flags you see, I’ll wait…

I’m southern. I’m white. I don’t know if my ancestors were slave owners or not. However, if they were, I am not proud. I am not a son of the Confederacy. I have never understood why so many fellow white southerners take such pride in the heinous crimes of their ancestors. There are statues and monuments built to men that were literal monsters and to make this issue more hypocritical, there were southern abolitionists, yet, their names get lost. They are never celebrated. Where are their statues? Where is their flag? We have forgotten fellow southerners on the right side of history and have built monuments and adopted the symbols of those that were wrong.

My last point is simple: We don’t get to choose what offends people. Throughout my almost 40 years of life, I have never met a black person who didn’t think the Confederate Flag was racist. If I know one thing about living in the USA, it’s that black people are far better and more experienced than white people at identifying racism. Why would you fly a flag that offends so many people? Why would you fly a flag that is so entrenched in racism?

The racist history of that flag cannot be debated. You cannot paint racism as heritage, for heritage, in this case, is racism.