Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gangs and Confederate Flags...I smell a soapbox

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?

Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. About a month ago I was visiting my good friends family with her in Fredricksburg VA (just 1 hour south of DC, where I love to live). Well...the main highway was know as "Blue and Grey Highway"...oh yes. When I mentioned it to my friend and her sister, they said it never even registered to them. On top if it, they informed me that the MALL has a Confederate store, exclusively selling any number of items to suit your confederate needs. Including that all important confederate flag bikini!

  2. Confederate flags totally freak me out - but maybe thats because I grew up in Illinois?

  3. Very cool post!!! Well written and yikes...I grew up in Canada so the confederate flag isn't exactly too popular or something you really come across.

    Living in So Cal now though we have our own issues with all the illegals that come across the border. It certainly raises a lot of racial issues in our city.

    I too work in education and though I work with the younger set and can't really teach any lessons...acceptance is still part of the profession.

    Enjoyed this post very much!!
    Following you now too. :-)

  4. I have lived in the South for all my life, so the "Stars and Bars" image and controversy is extremely familiar. My understanding of the history (and I could be off on some facts because, honestly, I'm being too lazy too google) is that the flag was part of the Confederate States for a short time. Post Civil War, other flags were used by the States. However, during desegregation, many States (Georgia being one) reinstated the flag for the "symbolism." When I was in high school, the "flag debate" was a huge issue in out State government. Many believe (and are probably right) that our then governor lost re-election because he supported an updated (and less offensive) flag.

    The flag is seen in all forms throughout the South; just recently in my community's Square Park there were two moms taking pictures of their little girls, who were maybe 3-4, in dresses made from the flag. I, and a lot of Southerners, feel sad and frustrated that such ignorance and hatred continue to exist in our region. Confederate history will always be a part of our culture in the fact that fathers, husbands, and sons lost their lives in a horrific battle. I just hope that more and more people will realize that there was/is no pride in their cause.

  5. I am an American living in Australia and they have several big racial arguments going. One is with the aboriginals, until the 70s aboriginal children were stolen from their homes and it wasn't until 2008 that the government formally apologised for that.

    Another is with asylum seekers that come here via boat. I don't really understand what the issue is with it, but the masses do NOT like the boat people.

  6. This is such a great post Melissa! I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it here. I am now following you thanks to Thirsty Thursday, and it would be so nice if you could share the love back on my blog;)
    Also today we have the coolest blog hop there is... no rules just fun and would love you to join in with us at Boost My Blog Friday, where you can meet lots of friends and have a great time:) See you there!
    Happy Friday

  7. Hi, Melissa, I wasn't going to comment, but I couldn't help myself since I feel the need to "defend" Fredericksburg. The first commenter (Juliette) mentioned her shock that the highway was called the "Blue and Gray" and couldn't believe her friends didn't know that. She also spelled the town's name incorrectly.

    The road is a state highway (State Route 3) that extends across much of Virginia. It's known simply as Rt. 3...I believe the "Blue and Gray Parkway" references are mentioned on signs for visiting history buffs. "Blue and Gray" refers to BOTH uniform colors of the Civil War (Union troops wore blue and Confederates wore gray). I normally wouldn't get so worked up, but ignorance makes me antsy. Fredericksburg is an historic town with roots that date back before the Revolutionary War. Juliette makes it sound like some backwoods, redneck, hillbillie hideaway, which it is not. There are lots of military transplants due to the proximity to Naval and Marine bases. I'm not sure why or how one (admittedly tacky!) "Confederate" store in the mall (which also boasts Coach, Sephora, Macy's, and Gymboree) would single out a town as a racist hot spot, which is what her comment implied.

    Jumping off my soapbox now. I don't normally ever leave comments like this on other blogs, but it upsets me when people spread untruths.

  8. shocker, yankees not minding their own buisness as usual and commenting on things that don't have anything to do with them.


Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! I love hearing from all of you!

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