I thought we would make it out of 2016 without anymore flag controversy, but I was wrong. I think I have written plenty about this topic. Today I would like to look at a news story and maybe offer a different opinion than what I normally say.
Sorry about the video quality. I took that from CBS Pittsburgh. If you have not been following the story, then allow me to sum it up. A kid wore a Confederate flag hoodie to school, a black student was offended. The school said the kid was allowed to wear it. Then, a couple more kids started wearing Confederate flag clothing and the school decided this was becoming disruptive and banned the symbol.
If you managed to watch the video long enough, the one girl says that the flag has nothing to do with slavery and that it was just a symbol of the south. I have definitely mentioned before that this is not the case, she should probably stop skipping history class. There was also this quote: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s our freedom. If you’re from America, you were born in America, this is part of your history. This is what shaped America to be how it is today. It’s the exact same thing as the American flag. As far as I’m concerned, they can’t do anything because it’s our First Amendment…” She is right that the Confederate flag is part of American history. It is not the same thing as the American flag though, it is the flag of a group of people who seceded from the United States of America.
I have made these arguments plenty of times about the Confederate flag, seriously, read any of the links in the first paragraph. What is different about today’s post is that I actually disagree with the school’s decision to ban the flag and any Confederate attire. I do believe in the freedom of expression and that kids should be allowed to wear whatever (within reason). And yes, I understand that the shirt/symbol would be offensive to black people. Instead of the black girl feeling so threatened/offended that she had to have her dad call the school. There will be things that offend us and instead of running to an authority figure, sometimes we either just need to suck it up OR maybe try to talk to the person. The kid wearing it may just wear it because thinks it is a cool hoodie and he is a wannabe country-boy (I mean, he is from Plum, not like he is from the Deep South).
Obviously I have no clue what happened. Maybe she did say something and then the kid was like “I wear this to promote slavery.” Which then, yeah, she should probably feel a little threatened. The next day when a few other students decided to wear Confederate attire, maybe the principal should have pulled them aside and said “hey, you are free to wear that stuff, but let me tell you that any racist remarks or actions will be punished. It is your right to wear that shirt, but do not be upset when people think you’re an asshole.” Maybe gather these students up and have them learn a little about how slaves were treated. Or how even after the Civil War, black people were lynched, tortured, beaten, murdered…
I don’t know. I think going this route, banning something, just gives the symbol more power. It causes those kids to want to fight back for their perceived right. Honestly, they probably do not care about the actual flag, just the right to express themselves. This is definitely not the way to create unity.