Play Date with the Confederacy

Stars and Bars, Confederate flag
(Credit: PhotosbyAndy via Shutterstock)

On the way home from a play date, my 12 year old son asked me what I thought about the Confederate Flag. As he settled into the passenger seat and fastened his seat belt, I waved to the 13 year old friend Freddy (not his real name) bidding us farewell from his front porch, his sandy hair flying in the late summer breeze. Not a care in the world.

“Mom, what do you think about the Confederate flag?” my son asked. “Freddy said he was thinking about getting one.”

My heart did a funny little flip. Oh, Lord. I knew where this was going. My son and Freddy had been friends since 3rd grade. They shared a love for music and basketball. They had performed a piano duet in the middle school talent show, just like Paul and Stevie. Tickling the ebony and ivory keys together. In perfect harmony…

What did I think about that flag? I took a deep breath and responded, trying to keep the judgment from my voice. It was July 11. Two days after South Carolina Governor Haley had ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the SC Statehouse grounds. Weeks earlier, nine blacks had been brutally shot dead during Wednesday night prayer service at Emanuel AME by a young white man who had revered that flag and all he thought it represented.

In response to the senseless unprovoked slaying of nine Christians, To me, it made sense for Governor Haley to call for the removal of the flag from public property. I never agreed with the heritage argument that many whites (and even some blacks) unearth when the questions of ‘the flag’ comes up. The Confederate flag is part of history. Albeit a tumultuous painful one. It’s not a birthright or something owed to you without question or cost because of a certain birth order.

So on that short ride home, I told my son what I knew about that flag.

  1. It was used on the battlefield during the Civil War
  2. It was one of many different types of battle flags the Confederate army used
  3. After the War Between The States, it was also flown during lynchings

And that was that. For now …

I know this conversation will resurface because I know my son and I see the potential for barriers to be either torn down or built up. I’ll be honest, I’m not comfortable with my son being in the middle of this bridge building. Especially a bridge overshadowed by the Stars and Bars.

Racial reconciliation is not always easy. One thing is for sure; it is not a game.