True Story: I Used to Have a Confederate Flag in My Bedroom

There's a lot of stuff going on in America right now about racism and "alt right" and apparently the new hill to die on is Confederate flags & statues of Confederate generals.

I'm not sure I truly have anything to add to this conversation.

Racism is not new. White supremacy is not new. We've had these wars before. Look in a history book.

 I think over the past year especially I've at least hinted at the fact that I'm pretty liberal.

But I want to talk about my journey to this place, and why I feel the way I feel even though in a lot of ways I probably look like easy prey to the "alt right" (apparently the PC term for Neo-Nazis).

When I was a teenager, I had a Confederate flag in my bedroom. 

To me, it represented my Southern heritage. People made fun of Southerners all the time. We were dumb, dirty, bad people. It was a form of "reclaiming" a symbol of where I was from and trying to find the positives about my heritage. It meant that I came from determined people willing to stand up for what was right- or at least, what they thought was right. It was a joke to tell the people who thought less of me that they couldn't hurt me. I would take what they scorned and use it to make me stronger.

I could justify this in a few ways. 

First, it was HISTORY Y'ALL. You can't fight the truth. It's just a fact, that's what happened.

Secondly, there were black kids at my school who said it was okay! They didn't care. If a black person said it wasn't offensive, surely no one else could be upset. And if there was another black person who got upset, well they needed to go talk to that first guy. As long as I was nice to people who cared?

But something happened- I grew up. 

I realized several things that changed my attitude towards the flag and the Confederacy in general.

I realized there are much less controversial ways to represent my Southern heritage. Monogramming stuff might cost a little more but it's cuter and not tied to racism in any way. Same for flip-flops and fried okra and sweet tea and Duke's mayonnaise.

I realized that people could feel differently about something even if they have something in common. So, yeah...some black people may have told me they didn't care- but others (of all races) were hurt deeply by this symbol. One person's pain does not diminish just because it isn't shared by all.

I realized that I was only strengthening the negative Southern stereotype by clinging to a symbol of the (failed) past. I could take those qualities I originally saw and shift them to something that valued the qualities of everyone.

I realized that in no other situation would I agree with this type of situation- America separated from England- successfully- and England doesn't fly American flags to celebrate that. If they did, I'd think they were idiots. 

Most importantly, I realized that I don't live in the Confederacy. I live in America. 

Those people who laugh at me and make fun of me and make assumptions due to where I grew up? They are doing exactly what they assume I do.

They are not better people because of where they grew up. I am not a worse person because of where I grew up. We all live in one country- the United States of America.

And I want our country to be united. I want us to look to the future, not the past.

I realized that patriotism to my country meant agreeing that its ideals of freedom and equality as a basic human right should be extended to every human.

Yes, the Confederate flag is part of our history. That doesn't make it good. That doesn't make it honorable. 

We can all be better than that, y'all.  

It's fine to be proud of being white- I like knowing that I have a Scottish background and where I come from.

The difference is- I don't believe that it makes me better than anyone else. And I am not so ignorant as to think that it makes me perfect.

I don't believe that skin color or ancestry should make me like one person more than the other, or make me more scared of one person than the other.

I hope that people don't judge me by the fact that I used to be proud of the Confederate flag. 

I hope that people who feel that way now realize that you can acknowledge the past and learn from it, without clinging to it. 

I hope we learn to live up to our name and truly be a united nation.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story! It's not easy to admit doing something that was harmful and changing it. You're awesome, and anyone who thinks that you're uncaring or uneducated - they aren't paying attention! ::hugs::

  2. This is an excellent post. I personally never felt any ties to the confederate flag, but I completely agree with some of the reasons you felt it represented you.