Monday, December 15, 2008

What do you think of when you see the Confederate Flag?

The Stars and Bars. What does it mean to us now? I'm from Maryland, a split state in the Civil War, and grew up thinking the "good guys" won. During a school field trip, I don't remember wear, a friend bought a Confederate cap at a souvenir shop. I was shocked! I asked him why he bought it and he said his ancestors were confederate. That was my first introduction to confederate pride. This same person was also part of a Native American tribe, which just shows how far back his heritage goes.

My husband is good at pointing out the real reasons for the civil war, not slavery, and says the South had the right to try to succeed. He understands Southern pride and feels a connection to the south since he is from here and has ancestors dating back who knows how long. I understand it as best I can. The high school where I student taught had issues with Dixie Outfitters. No where in the handbook does it say the Confederate flag cannot be worn and halfway through the semester students told me a teacher was telling them not to wear their Dixie Outfitter shirts to school. When they asked the principle about it he told them it's true, they shouldn't, because it's a public school. However, nothing more was done with it. Rumor flew and more students than before wore shirts with big Confederate flag prints. One student in my class wore a mardi gras style necklace with 1"x2" flags all around it. Nothing was done about it. He made a point of telling me the black vice principle even saw it and said nothing. This student used the confederate flag in every piece of artwork he did, until I said he had exhausted the subject and needed to show more creativity and branch out. He was understanding as I was about his desire to use it.

I did see black students react negatively to this student's use of the Confederate flag in his art and on his clothing and accessories. One black guy who sat near him asked to talk to me and said he had to move because he just couldn't stand the guy. It could have had to do with the kid's obnoxious personality, but mostly I believe it was because of his obnoxious use of Confederate pride symbols.

One girl explained it to me saying, "Dixie Outfitters is just what rednecks wear." She started sporting a Confederate flag belt buckle everyday after the ban was known. Redneck pride. That I cannot understand. The term comes from miners in West Virginia, but now it represents people who are full of Southern Pride. In all honesty, when I think of a redneck I think of a disheveled looking white person who is uneducated, doesn't value education, hunts, talks with poor grammar, is overly Christian, is prejudiced against people who are different-especially gays and immigrants who don't speak English, wears cartoon character, John Deer and Dixie Outfitters t-shirts, and much more. Why would someone be proud of that? So, I'm going to try to understand what they think of with Redneck pride. They might feel it means they are hardworking, provide for their family, care for their kids, value their heritage, love their God, support their Country and President. Those are all positive things.

When I was a kid I did not like going to school with disadvantaged kids. They had street-knowledge that scared me, wore clothes that were tattered and dirty, were mean, disrupted class, didn't care about school, were disrespectful to teachers. I got tired of it and went to private school after eighth grade. Now I want to work in public school education. Now I understand the issues these kids face and why some acted out. Now I understand that they can be helped and should be helped and not written off as bad apples.

This is quite rambling I think and I was interrupted half-way through to put on a movie for the kids, but basically I'm just trying to understand groups of people and see them as individuals as well.

What do you think about the Confederate Flag and banning Dixie Outfitters from school?

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