Today South Carolina moved the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds and to the nearby Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. I’ve remained silent on this subject, until now.
Although I am a girl who was raised in the South, a descendent of Confederate soldiers, and a lapsed member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Confederate battle flag does NOT represent me, my supposed heritage, nor even the South of my childhood.
- That flag does not represent lightning bugs at dusk or ‘mater sammiches on white bread with Dukes mayo.
- That flag does not represent bare feet and sand spurs, sweet iced tea, and fresh peach cobbler.
- That flag does not represent sandy paths through scrub oak and slash pine or the tarry smell of bracelets woven from pine needles during recess.
- That flag does not represent splashing in the waves at Myrtle Beach or getting sunburned while gathering seashells.
- That flag does not represent fresh laundry on the backyard line on sunny afternoons, or shiny new quarters from granddad’s pocket.
- That flag does not represent peas and collards on New Year’s Day, or salty boiled peanuts all summer long.
- That flag does not represent good manners or screen doors that slam shut no matter how carefully you think you close them.
- That flag does not represent being seated on the back pew of the church, eating my great-grandfather’s butterscotch candies while doodling on the printed program during the sermon.
- That flag does not represent my great-grandmother’s thread-bare cotton house dresses and spotless aprons with pockets, nor her freshly snapped peas and home-grown cantaloupes.
- That flag does not represent sitting next to my best friend on the school bus much too early in the morning …
- … but that flag DOES represent the reason my best friend and I were not allowed to play together outside of school or visit each other’s homes.
I am not sad that the Confederate battle flag has been banished to the relic room. That flag is a relic of not one but two dark passages in our nation’s history, and it belongs in a museum.
Shelly (Hodge) KammertJuly 11, 2015 at 10:44am
Allison, you are sooooo right. It reminds me of the first person I wanted to ask for a sleepover in Camden in 1978-ish. Once my dad found out that my friend was not white, he wouldn’t allow it. I can still hear his nasty comment when I think about it. Although she and I remained friends at school, I never even tried to ask her over again.
Lynn RosenJuly 11, 2015 at 12:30pm
Awesome job, Allison. I think you totally covered what so many are feeling right now.
Lucy StembridgeJuly 11, 2015 at 8:37pm
Aptly sensuous images, Alison. Nearly all of these were true in my Atlanta home, as well.
A song by Janis Ian, “Society’s Child”, describes that this separation of children was not only in the South. I believed she lived in N. Y, or near Philly. The song bemoans that her friend was not allowed to date cross-racially.
However, Jimmy Carter had an African-American playmate at an early age. His father made quiet, positive inroads in Plains, Ga. Sometimes half of the meeting guests had to use the back door, to keep neighbors from being suspicious. But they met.
I am proud that my family donated land in Plains, Ga., for the Jimmy Carter museum. (They had already held his campaign headquarters at that train depot.)
Some have prejudice that is overt, and manifests by cross-burning or shooting.
Others have “dinner-table prejudice”. Sometimes I wonder which is scarier. The kitchens, backyards, and church lobbies of America, regardless of ethnic heritage, have echoed words about manners, education, fear, job competition, snobbery, injustice, violence, competence …
And sometimes, when the sincere Love-Smile was accepted and internalized, we saw kindness, interaction, and mutual support.
May the last event ever be so….. And “Society’s Child” learn a new verse.