This interview was done as a follow-up piece from Devon Young’s guest post on BITNB, The Path of Righteous Destruction.
What are some symbols you could recommend to represent the South, without a connection to racist traditions, as an alternative to the confederate flag?
I would say that there could be things related to what your state is. Like with South Carolina there are the palmetto trees. Our state flag is one of the most iconic in a sense that it’s simple and to the point. Plus the story as to how the palmetto trees saved South Carolina from being taken over by invaders. I think that each southern state that feels they need to come together to create a new flag that represents a little piece of each state to represent the whole south. Having pride in things that make each state great is better than having a flag based off oppression, ignorance and hated.
What was the classroom setting like for you, like how do you learn about the Civil War/Reconstruction period of history in school?
It was like how you hear on the news, it basically hyped the confederates for breaking away from the union and how they were going to war over a “dispute”. That’s how the books put it and they don’t really speak on how much the slaves influenced the south or how bad they were treated. I mean they talked on them being beaten and how they were transported over here and the conditions, but it was focused more so on the conflict and how the following period was rough because of all of the changes. I was lucky enough to have teachers though who took time to explain what slavery was and how it impacted life in American and the abuse they received. This was well before the school systems shut all of that free teaching stuff down and went to a strict curriculum. So I was lucky in a sense where the teachers cared enough to point that out even though it wasn’t in the reading material.
In the essay you talk about the system changing with the attitude change in the general population, what do you think it’s going to take for that to really happen?
It’s sad to have to even say or think this but it’s going to take something catastrophic to break the way of thinking. When you look through out history the only thing that ever changed a way of thinking was a major war or a natural disaster. We have all of this evidence that points to things collapsing and coming back together again in a different light because something affected them that they had no control over. Instead of looking a the history and saying “OK we have to change this before it destroys us” people still ignore these signs and keep on living ignorantly. Until that day when their life is threaten by something they can’t control and they feel helpless like we have since the inception of this country, then there will never be change, and that’s the sad reality of it all.
What does change, regarding this topic, look like in the South?
It’s a very hard fought and reluctant one. I mean I’ve spoken with people my age and I could hear in their voice how they didn’t understand why certain family members hated black people. Like on the flip side of all of this is that there are some really good kindhearted white people out here that genuinely don’t understand how things like this can happen. Unforgettably for them and black people they don’t really feel like they have a voice and I understand where they are coming from because that’s family. Anyone that tells you that they should speak up regardless of it’s family or not might not completely understand the family dynamic and how hard it is to speak out against something you know is wrong against the people that raised you fairly or so bad that you’re scared of what they are going to do. It’s all a psychological thing and unfortunately once we have a little change they come back and implement so many other things it’s as if that change never occurred at all.
You’re a military veteran representing a the American flag that has its fair share of connection to racism, how do you feel about that? Is it difficult/easy?
It’s hard for the simple fact that racism doesn’t die when people put on the uniform, it gets worse. I remember having a conversation with this one guy who repeatedly called the Iraqi’s I worked with rag heads and I had to stop him because that was inappropriate and unbecoming of a solider. When I confronted him he accused me of being a sympathizer and a support of terrorism. I told him that I believe that all people should be treated with respect even after they have done you wrong and since I don’t know these people I’m not going to disrespect them or their culture. Of course he didn’t understand where I was coming from because he was clearly a brainwashed racist, but to see someone disrespecting a uniform that means you’re willing to give your all, even your last breath for the preservation of this country and your family is unforgivable. It’s always good when they pat you on the back for when you go and invade another persons home, but it’s always bad when you come home and you try to get treated like the citizen you fought to protect. The flag is just a flag to me, I don’t put my distrust into the flag, I put my distrust in the people that choose to demonize it and make it out to be the worst thing on this planet. We can change the culture of the flag, but once again, major change is needed.
Is Unapologetic Blackness a viable solution to combat unapologetic racism?
Put it like this, it’s the unstoppable object that means the unmovable force. I think with the two it’s two very different ends of the spectrum. On one hand you have Unapologetic Blackness that’s relentless and unwavering in it’s pursuit of being treated equal. With Unapologetic Racism you have the good ol boys system that has been in place well before this country came into existence. They are so use to things being a certain way that they will kill to keep it that away, aka the many wars this country has been involved in. Unapologetic Blackness will eventually out slug Unapologetic Racism for the simple fact that we are not scared anymore of getting what we are owed. Racist are no more than cowards with a little power left from the old guard, and that power is slowly chipping away. People are getting tired of looking at the rich get richer and the poor becoming poorer. So it’s just not us in this fight anymore, we are joined by the Hispanics, the Asians, the Native Americans and so forth. The momentum is building up against them and their time of reign is coming to an end.
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.