“This might be the unpopular opinion,
But I honestly could care less about the flag coming down.
I want more, I want their lively hood.”
That is the reoccurring statement that I have had to dish out numerous of times as of late when asked about the confederate flag. I’ve lived in North Carolina since 2005 when I entered my freshman year of college, and not once did I let anyone forget that I am a proud South Carolinian. Southern pride to those looking outside in may seem a little foolish considering all of the racism around and the lack of opportunities. But to have southern pride is to have pride in your community, heritage and most importantly yourself. I’ve been to the Midwest during one of the worst winters in recent memory, I’ve been to Georgia on some of the hottest days it’s seen, I’ve been all the way to two foreign countries and seen a couple of things my brain still has trouble processing til this day, and yet I came right back to North Carolina to live. Not at one point in the ten years of living here did I once say I was from somewhere else. Even though I was born in Washington, D.C. & my most of my family resides in that area, I always tell people it’s not where you were born, it’s where you were made. I was made in the sweltering heat, quiet Sunday roads, country bumpkin town of Florence, S.C., and I’m proud to say that every single day. Now of course I’ve run into my fair share of racist and Neo-Nazi wanna be’s, but not once did that flag effect my life.
I’ve seen that flag for literally my whole life, even seen instances where people got kicked out of places for having it on their shirts made by a company called Dixie Outfitters, but not once did I think to let that flag bother me. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that the majority of those people who claim that the flag isn’t a symbol for racism and hate, and that it represents a proud heritage of being from the south and blah blah blah, I get it. I also get it that they have every single right to fly those flags from their trucks, wear it on their clothes and even string it up to a pole in the middle of their front yard for the whole world to see, trust me I get it. A lot of us have to remember that, that they have the right to wear whatever they want, just as we have the right to wear whatever it is that we want, this is America after all. What is not OK is flying the flag from various government buildings, and public monuments. What is not ok is the fact that a lot of these places are still named after these “war heroes’, and as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show pointed out so well, we have to still drive on streets named after those same “war heroes”, oh the irony.
So when I say that I don’t care about the flag coming down, it’s in large part of me seeing the other side of the system. I want those people who love that confederate flag so much, and would do anything for it, to keep displaying it like a badge of honor. I want them to wake every morning, make sure that their best shirt with the flag on it is nicely ironed and with the brightest red, white and blue on it; I want them to be visible. Then what I really want after all of that showcasing of pride and honor in those men and women who fought to keep slavery around, I want to see their world burn around them. I want all of these people, who are within every single right that they have to wear that flag and showcase it on their private property, see how that flag is going to get them in to deep shit. I want them to see that this isn’t the 1700’s, the 1800’s or the 1900’s; this is 2015. This world is so diverse and mixed that everyone has a little of everyone else in them. This isn’t a country where something as silly as skin color means that you’re more intelligent, more physical or overall better than another person not of the same skin color as yours; this world has virtually no place for racism anywhere.
I want these confederate flag wearing folks to keep wearing that flag and displaying it proudly, because at the end of the day when their businesses are no longer being patronized, when their kids aren’t getting the best education anymore, when all of those sports teams that they love so much won’t sell them tickets, or even when they are down and out and are in need of some help, it wont be there. Then, and only then, will I condone the discretion of that flag, not by the hands of any person of color, oh no, but by the tears and snot that they cry out each and every single night when they see that their world has stopped burning, and it’s now reduced to ashes. When the only thing that they have keeping them warm at night and solace in something that has held their pride and heritage together for so many years, is surrounded by ashes and rubble because there was nothing that flag could do to save them from their own willful ignorance. Because for me this is about more than just a flag, this is about getting every single person who shares those views with their forefathers and keep them in such high regard that when they realize that all of those people spew hate for, has taken each and every single position that they have held, because they were voted in there by people who are against what that flag stands for.
Henry Rollins once said that weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, racism, homophobia, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor. There are a ton of other people that don’t hide behind this flag that share the same views as what it symbolizes, and no longer are the days of standing idly by and letting them run amuck amongst us, doing whatever they please. We are in a time where the generation coming up is armed with the knowledge, the means to make things happen and overall, the anger to take down the establishment that has held people of color back since the inception of this country. The revolution isn’t coming, it’s happening now, and it’s happening all around us from every single angle.
The defeat and removal of this flag from various state capitals is only the beginning, wait until you see what we have in store next.
Devon Young is the creator of and blogger at Cold Knowledge where he shares his perspective on virtually everything life has to offer as a way to be the writer of his own narrative. Check out the follow-up interview with Devon in which he expanded on his experiences being Black & Southern.