So I've been going back and forth about how to write this post since we got back from Florida. Finally, I said to myself, "Self...just write it already! You're overthinking!". And so now I will get on my soapbox...who's with me?
When we were in Florida my cousin took us to Wekiva Island where we drank some beers, sat by the water and people watched, (my favorite sport of all time). After laughing at some considerably NON MILF-Y women in shorty shorts, and some old men who were lobster-red, Sean commented on the "Regulations" sign posted near the bar/old wooden hut where alcohol was served.
Somewhere between the rule about no shirt, no shoes = a beer chuggin' good time, and the one about farmers' tans being a sign of virility, there was one that said something to the effect of, "No Colors to be Displayed"
Being silly urbanites from the eastcoast Sean and I asked if there were gang issues in that area (clearly Central Florida is a hotbed of gang activity).
My cousin looked extremely confused and told us that no, he hadn't even considered that. He assumed the sign was meant to say that no confederate flags should be displayed since people liked to show their "southern pride" in that way.
Once I scooped my jaw up from the floor and stopped scream-whispering "confederate flags...are you KIDDING ME??!!" I actually stopped and thought about what my cousin had just said. Now, to give you a bit of context, I work in Student Affairs. Every day I capitalize on teachable moments to talk with my students about social justice, diversity, and acceptance. I live and work in a bubble that does not accept behavior that isolates or alienates individuals or groups. So the thought that someone would need to put up a sign in a place where families congregate to let people know to keep their racist paraphernalia at home please, is totally mind blowing for me. I'm not saying I don't appreciate the sign--at least effort is being made to proclaim that certain behaviors are unacceptable. It is the NEED for that sign that baffles me. I will blame it on my ignorance of southern culture perhaps or lack of understanding of that symbol as "southern pride", it's possible that because of my work and education I am overly sensitive to issues such as this and I need to get off my high horse, or maybe I'm missing the boat entirely and you, my dear readers, can enlighten me!
I know that the world is not in a state of kumbaya, and that there is a lot of hate still apparent. I know myself that I have biases against others which I actively work to understand every day. I also know that relative to what is happening around the world, displaying an offensive flag may be small potatos. But I feel like looking at the little things...the subtleties that add up to big, major, gigantic, ridiculous issues is how we make life a little better, and make our society a safe, welcoming place to be part of no matter who you are.
It saddens me that although I feel like our country has come so far to combat racism and alienation, we still have so far to go. What is it like where you live...what type of language do people use to describe those who are different? Do you have a diverse group of friends and colleagues? What are your views on this issue?