Parents gave me Confederate flag: protection

confederate-flag-1-1024x768Steve Morris,
Seattle, WA.

In the mid-1950s my father made a business trip from our home in Connecticut to Florida and back. He decided to make the trip by car, and to take my mother, my brother, and me along with him for a family travel experience. In the Deep South I witnessed undisguised segregation for the first time. I was 10 years old. At a gas station I asked the attendant why there were different bathrooms and drinking fountains. I told him my best friend in Connecticut was “a negro” (the terminology hadn’t changed yet). and I described how we did all the same things at school, and used all the same facilities. The attendant said, “Well that’s not the way we do it down here, sonny.” My parents, watching this exchange, sensed an edge — and perhaps a threat — to the man’s tone. They instructed me to address my questions to them in the future, and they bought me a little Confederate flag. I carried it everywhere, waving it around as I would have any other colorful souvenir. I was unaware of any meaning it might carry beyond its attractive surface. Years later my parents told me their side of the story, and explained that the flag was intended to smooth our journey through the South, and perhaps to provide a degree of safety. They had been more concerned than they let on, about the gas station attendant’s tone.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

47 Responses to "Parents gave me Confederate flag: protection"
  1. Dracu says:

    I was a bit older than you, when my brother and I traveled to Florida by Greyhound Bus in the early 1960’s. When we stopped in North Carolina for something to eat, we sat at the counter and looked over the menu. In my best imitation of a “Southern” accent, I asked the woman behind the counter for the Cheeseburger special. My brother asked for the same thing in his usual Delaware Valley diction. I got my burger and RC Cola with a smile, in a few minutes. My brother didn’t get his until the bus was almost ready to leave….and we ordered at the same time. In addition, his food was about 10 shades more well done than “dead.” And, there were no Black people at all sitting anywhere in the restaurant. I shudder to think what would have happened then, if we were two black kids from up north, who made the fatal mistake of trying to get something to eat there.

    • olblue9 says:

      Good reply, I admit that we all have had bad days, and we cannot all be expected to treat each other with respect day after day. But after five years of seeing this gal relate with “whites and blacks” the main question that came to mind was “if roles were reversed would she still have a job?” No public employee should treat citizens in this matter. The color of a person’s skin should not determine your attitude towards them. “Two wrongs don’t make a right… unless you live down south?”

    • barry irving says:

      …some Southerners hate more than dark color…they hate outsiders too!

  2. olblue9 says:

    As a “white” guy living in the mixed community of Thunderbolt, Georgia in 2000, I could not get polite service from an older “black” woman at city hall no matter how sweet I was. While standing in line to pay my water bill each month she was always so sweet to my darker neighbors. But when my or any other “white” person’s turn came up, she would turn aggressively evil. Then she would be sweet to the dark neighbor behind me. I sure was glad to see her retire in 2002. Another government employee livin’ the American dream. Thank goodness we now have courteous employees’ to greet us at the window. Free at last, free at last.

    • etk says:

      Olblue9, not to be rude but would you please consider that she was one woman in 1000s that you interacted with. She stuck out in your mind because she was unusual.

      Imagine how difficult it was for her and your “darker” neighbors for years and years and years. Imagine what it would feel like to finally be treated nicely by the ONLY nice “white” person.

      Olblue9, my friend’s family had a cross burnt on their lawn in Atlanta in the 1980s.

      You have had the experience that many of those “darker” people have had to live every single day of their lives. No matter where they went. No matter what line they stood in. No matter how nice they tried to be. Now you know the frustration of being one of those “darker” people.

      Was she a jerk? Sure. But maybe she had been sexually assaulted, and never could get justice because of the color of her skin. Maybe her grandfather was lynched by a white mob. Maybe her husband worked a job where his pay was consistently lower, even though he had more experience and expertise. Maybe her son was beaten for being on the wrong side of town.

      OR maybe she just had to experience rude servers, clerks, and salespeople everyday of her life and now it was her turn to stick to somebody…

      Olblue9, consider how you would react in a similar environment.

      And just so you know, I am “white”. (Well, actually more of a pink color, but they call us “white”.) I lived in a place for nearly 20 years where I was in the obvious minority…it is NOT easy.

      • olblue9 says:

        Good reply, I admit that we all have had bad days, and we cannot all be expected to treat each other with respect day after day. But after five years of seeing this gal relate with “whites and blacks” the main question that came to mind was “if roles were reversed would she still have a job?” No public employee should treat citizens in this matter. The color of a person’s skin should not determine your attitude towards them. This card refers to a situation that happened in the 1950’s on private property, my reply refers to a daily situation on local government property ten years ago. “Two wrongs don’t make a right… unless you live down south?” I don’t take it to heart, just another funky day living in America.

        • barry irving says:

          …the main question is why this “ONE” example…and is it true?…This is a conceptual blog Space that asks us to describe so much with six words and it’s called the race card. A contemporary term that trivializes Racism and opposition to Racial injustice!.

          …Race is not a game and the conversation must evolve intelligently and with compassion, empathy and understanding reference to America’s History. No one can say that America is a fundamentally Racist and Classist Society. Racism is to people of color as Class is to other poor Americans of any race, so the job is far from being solved although people who feel the thorn of Racism love to say that things are better now…that is highly subjective and questionable.

        • Truth seeker says:

          The first wrong doesn’t make it right, and if someone wanted to right a previous wrong, shouldn’t they go after the person or people who committed the first wrong, and not just some random person that happens to be of the same ethnicity of the original offender? This makes no sense at all. It’s like getting revenge on someone by attacking someone else that has nothing to do with the first wrong.

          Some people should just be ashamed of even thinking that way.

    • barry irving says:

      ..very sarcastic ( and one sided )…i guess that with soooo many available examples, the only one that you can come up with is this one?…Do you even know what the term White means? You need freedom from a lot that is now unmentioned!

      • olblue9 says:

        I did not know that we “white” folks are supposed to list ALL of our negative race experiences. I thought that this site was for racial discussions. At the time I just gave one example of blatent behavior to point out that “black” people are not the only ones who receive racist treatment. Would you also have me to list all of my experience with wonderful “black and brown” folks? ‘Cause this would also be a very long list! I just try to relate to both sides of the story and not just overly critical.

        • barry irving says:

          …looks like your intent is to tie African Americans to Racism. Africans are “affected” by Racism…their behavior is reactive, even if ‘you” see it as Racist. You don’t know this woman outside of her job. You don’t know her experience. In any case Racism is not what African Americans project. It’s affectation “from” racism. you can criticize their behavior, but you can’t call it Racism.

          …if you want to now the meaning of White, don’t take my description, it is a false social construct. See Salon – 1/9/15 …”5 REASONS WHY WHITE PRIDE IS ALWAYS RACIST”. IT’S WRITTEN BY WHITE PEOPLE AND SHOWS HOW THE TERM CHANGES THROUGHOUT HISTORY.

          • olblue9 says:

            Never said that all_”black” folks are racist. Just that they are people too. You help to prove my point by assuming that I am a racist that hates “blacks” just because I relate one story to show that racist behavior is a two way street
            By the way, I do believe that just because you are a racist, does not make you a totally bad person. Nor do I believe that the occasional racist response means that you are a racist. A true racist would be proud of the lable and hate all that was different.
            I would never say that this woman was a racist! Just that on at least six different occasions, I observed racist behavior toward “white” citizens that entered the town hall, that was not observed with “black” folks.

          • barry irving says:

            …you can’t twist my meaning I said that your intent is to tie African Americans to Racism > the social philosophy…said nothing about all, specifically said intent.

            …I also did not call you Racist although now I will…you are a Racist. I say that because you use dismissive language…Blacks this and Blacks that. We are African Americans. Confrontation or accusation is a two way street. it can create a conversation or a battle. Racism is your peoples practice. “Affectation” from Racism’s Institutional and various social forms
            ( which is what I was commenting on ) is what you are calling Racism itself. That’s wrong!

            …Racism is a practice to deny individuals and groups. It is a tool of population majority thinking and practice towards intimidation and denial if equality. To confront, or call out a Racist is not Racism, it is protest…not the same.

            …Racism is both evil intended and sub conscious, so institutional indoctrination is the culprit that everyone responds to in one way or another. You acknowledge that all racism is not evil, but you still insist that the victims of racism are equally guilty of one age old White social practice. That is far from the truth.

            …true racism is that perpetrated by the majority for any reason…a true response whether anger, protest or affectation is a response to Racism, nothing else. You may not like the response, but it is what it is.

            …I wouldn’t call this woman Racist either…so she can’t then be exhibiting Racist behavior if she is
            NOT A RACIST !…

          • olblue9 says:

            Human nature allows us all to read what we want into a conversation. I do not have any formal human nature education beyond high school. There has not been a lot of internet research, just simple observation of the folks around me.
            I do not consider myself qualified to call another person racist based entirely on what is written in a reply to a card, but I must disagree and restate my position that no matter what color our skin is we are all human, we make mistakes, and yes we are all programed to follow social structures and rules to some degree.
            To believe that one race is superior to natural behavior over another sounds a lot like the same rhetoric that has been used for years by the Hitler, James Earl Ray, and John Allen Muhammad types.
            Never said “not all racism is evil”.

          • barry irving says:

            …looks like another of your “unshining moments”

            …we all Black and White have a right to be racist as long as we don’t infringe on the rights of others?

            …#1, we all in the US are many colors, African American and Europeans are only part of the citizenship…there are others if you are not aware. If you have a right to be racist, then you infringe on the rights of others by your direct acts or by your attitude which allows and supports Racism. Indifference is just as bad a culprit, so is enabling.

            …you like many Europeans just don’t understand that part of the picture. The Constitution is a protective document. If you use it to shield your own animus because you think that your Racist rights are allowable or normal, then you corrupt the spirit of the Constitution. We see that more and more every day with the public slights and then the fake apologies.

            … Law makers know that racists and racism exists and the point is to enact law to defend rights not make a way for hate to be expressed through the law. It is up to citizens who realize that they too have the same negative indoctrination to hate, deny or be indifferent to change their thinking by self examination!

            …nice try on the “we are all human” thing. Mistakes don’t happen time after time…that’s a pattern. A pattern involves practice…practice is conscious!

          • olblue9 says:

            The key to starting any conversation is finding a common language.
            Throughout history in the rest of the world “Northern, Southern, Back East, Out West”, “White, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow” are brief descriptions to bring to mind are person from a certain region or place.
            In America, we all like to think of ourselves as individuals, so we are offended at such labels. Immediately, we stop listening to WHAT is being said, and concern ourselves only with HOW it is being said. If this was the way we read so many of the great literary novels I do not think that their popularity would stay with us too long.
            But who am I to say. I’m just “southern poor white trash” to most of America.
            Good luck with the goal of improving social inequality as long as every discussion has to be full of “reality show drama”. The ratings will be great, but plan for a long running show.

          • barry irving says:

            …listen Son…you counter to no avail…try addressing points…that will teach you a thing or two. You call yourself “Poor Southern White trash” a term of
            Self implied Racism… that your people use as common language every day?…that’s deplorable and further illustrates how the game of “point out the lesser” has run roughshod over your head!

            “WITH DRAMA”…always has been…get with the program or be trampled!

          • olblue9 says:

            Thanks for the good advice Pops. Funny that I have been called “white trash honky” and “ni$$er lover” while talking to a “black” friend way back in school in a ten minute period. How I can be both is beyond me.
            The point is that those names are just labels that poor, scared, uneducated people of all races use to criticize that which they are unfamiliar with. It does not bother me any more than being called WHITE, or racist, or Son on a site.
            Communication is the key, we all have to have tough skin to survive.

          • barry irving says:

            …you are White, a false ethnicity and social construct and you wonder how you can be both?…that’s Whitey for you…over the top with the putdowns. Insecure people…who knew?

            …BTW answering a question with a question or irrelevant comment is what the ignorant escapists do…


          • olblue9 says:

            You’re the Professor! I’m just livin’ the life. I cannot live in the past just for y’all. Thanks for the education.

          • barry irving says:

            …yes I am the professor…to you. You can’t do anything for me, you can’t even answer a straight question.

            …What I did was dispel your BS with no problem…no big job by any means! if you call that an education, then prove you learned something besides knowing when to shut up!

          • olblue9 says:

            Has there been a straight question? The goal of this site is to allow for free discussion of each card, but every time that I have met, heard tale, or seen a reply stating a hatred of another race I am still astonished.
            I can understand the urge to hate an individual that has done a person wrong… this is more of a simple human reaction. But to live an entire life without having found one person of another race that is decent.. that is a different sort entirely.
            Not that this is so uncommon, I have witnessed it many times, from just about all of the colors of people for sure. But I can never get use to it.
            I’ve read somewhere about the troubles between the Jewish people and the Arabic people may have started with Cane and Able. Now that is some long lasting hatred. Hell, all of the hatred that I have seen in my time sure seems small compared to that. But hate is still hate, no matter how long it is festering.
            Oh yeah, back to the unanswered question. Being as I am told that I am of an inferior race, let me re-read and see if I can figure this out…nope, can’t find it.
            I am not a “professional advocate”. That sounds like a fine title. I know that when the plumbing is backed up, I call a plumber. If I had a legal question, I would consult a lawyer. So it just makes sense that if I had a racial problem, that I would call a PA. Please enlighten me. Would there be any situation where a person of another color would call a professional advocate? Or would a PA only represent one race?
            The plumber’s that I know have a lot more experience with their job than I do. I guess that makes you a “hired gun” when it comes to PA. I admire your passion for the job, but most of the people that I have seen just dig in their heels when the name calling starts. You being the professional and all, who am I to say.
            I wish you great success in your chosen profession. It sounds like a very noble trade. Lord knows we all need help.

          • barry irving says:

            …yes you do need help in facing your denial…you couldn’t answer a straight question if it was a growth on the side of your neck .

            A professional advocate is how my profession is summed up in simple terms for academia. I am a degreed Academic painter with a foundation in history, an educator who is a veteran of the N.Y.S. Arts in Education movement that started with me in 1989 and I am also an advocate for Inclusive education. That means I stay educated and on top of the newest trends “on my own” I attend conferences where boneheads are not allowed. I read and I develop my practice as an individual..that’s why we make the big bucks…we don’t run “from” adversity or controversy, we run “to it!”

            …You can stick your sarcasm if you haven’t already done that. People call me to teach when they are not aware of the newest academic advances in brightening up the standard education curriculum that all kids in grade school have to learn. School teachers can become entrenched in old ways of teaching…this is a new and creative world and we help them break out of that tendency.

            …I am not alone, there are many of us of many colors and no boneheads like you. That would be counter productive. You love to elaborate, only you stay irrelevant when confronted with simple questions that “you people” will have to face sooner or later. You just choose to banter on about nothing. Lets call this a bad conversational pairing…you go your way and I’ll go mine. No use going back and forth about nothing if you can’t address a simple question without meandering off into never never land…sheesh!

          • olblue9 says:

            Gee B, that is just typical learned behavior. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that you had trust issues. Maybe the truth is that you and I are both only human just like I’ve been saying all along.The last letter was sincere. If one day you can reread it without all on the hate, maybe you can see that. We all need to remove the hate goggles occasionally.
            Sheesh? Really? Actually pretty good, shows you haven’t completley lost your compassion for your fellow man. There’s still Hope.

          • barry irving says:

            …not for you for the above reasons…America is an entitled can work hard…OR NOT! You can live in fantasy or reality…you can own life and it’s complexities..OR NOT!

            …every one is only human even if they don’t act like it.

            …as a professional I am fierce in my disposition when need be. To you I have been sarcastic because I know that you are not engaging…no biggy…it’s normal for your type. I recognize that. To you I am an angry Black Guy…how typical a response is that?

          • barry irving says:

            …only small minds mistake intensity for anger…it’ll take time…keep trying!

          • olblue9 says:

            The way that I heard it was “just ’cause your head is pointed, don’t make you SHARP!” ILOL

          • Truth seeker says:

            You listen here, son; you have comprehension deficiencies. You’ve taken so much of what olblue has said out of context and have been rewording it to fit your own agenda.


            That is soo trivial and reflects a sign of your incompetence. You are playing a game. If you don’t want to have a discussion, you don’t have to, but at least refute his points, not his method of delivering them….”son”. (I had to add that, just so you know how it feels, oh and by the way, that was all reactionary. LOL)

          • barry irving says:

            …I am a son, but not your Son, You can call me Mr. Irving.

            …no one asked for your opinion especially when you are guilty of what you accuse. I won’t dognify your dribble any further!

          • Truth seeker says:

            You hit the nail on the head olblue!

          • Truth seeker says:

            “She exhibited affectations from Racism.”-yes, by treating someone unfairly because of their race. THAT IS RACIST

            Worst off, she is punishing the wrong person for someone else’s crime.

            “…we all Black and White have a right to be racist as long as we don’t infringe on the rights of others?”- yes, that is true. Whether it is right or wrong. It is our right. Barry, there are no THOUGHT POLICE.

            The constitution cannot control people’s thoughts. We are free to think the way we want to.

            “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

            Noam Chomsky

          • barry irving says:

            …lot of hot dribble…no substance. Get along now. This “was” a conversation for those who can reason and decipher. You know you are not on that level.

          • Truth seeker says:

            You have not provided any “substance” whatsoever. I provided examples and ideas. You provide logical fallacies and deflections. Your “level” is your own. You can stay there. It is empty and vacant like a void.

          • Truth seeker says:

            You are delusional, insecure, and conspicuously racist. You try to play semantics. You are completely biased and not objective at all. You have an agenda.

            Fine, I’ll play your game. I am not white. I am a European-American. Oh wait, that is too vague. I am 1/4 Scotts-Irish, 1/4 Anglo, 1/2 Russian.

            It was my Scotts-Irish and Russian Jew ancestors that came to this country. They didn’t own slaves. They were treated as slaves by the “AMERICAN WHITES”.

            According to your logic, I can’t be racist, only reactionary, because my ancestors who came to this country were discriminated against racially.

            Do you know how insane that sounds!!!! ANYONE can be racist. ANYONE.

            I don’t care if someone’s ancestors were in the Nazi Party. They aren’t in the Nazi Party. They most likely think it’s horrible what happened to the Jews in Europe in the late 1930’s to mid 40’s.

            You see what I did there? I take blame off of the people that have nothing to do with the crime. I don’t punish people for other people’s crimes. That’s what you do Barry. YOU PERPETUATE RACISM.

            Get over yourself. Grow up. Stop internalizing everything and making it about you.

            This is a great forum to discuss race on. What I think you need Barry, is a little dose of self-accountability, and empathy towards others of a different ethinic background, esp. those who are “WHITE”.

          • barry irving says:

            …god, um good advice…I’ll possibly think it over…ILOL!

          • Truth seeker says:

            “Africans are “affected” by Racism…their behavior is reactive, even if ‘you” see it as Racist”

            …Barry, do you see what you did right there? That’s called ethnocentricism.

            You’re implying that blacks cannot be racist, only reactive to racism. That is a bunch of horse doo doo. if ANYONE of ANY RACE discriminates, or treats another person unfairly, based on their ethnicity, it’s racism.

            To say it’s not racist when blacks do it, only perpetuates racism. Bravo!!! Job well done!!!

            Now please, stop being a racist and judge people based on their character and actions.

            Bless you

          • barry irving says:

            …being “Afro Centric” is normal for Afro Centric people.
            Ethno Centricity is normal too. Any person who recognizes and practices their ancestral culture as their life foundation is Ethnocentric. That includes Europeans.

            …what you are talking about is something else. I am referring to the general assumption among White people that we are some kind of New Racist and that we are the carriers of Racism. That’s you guilt and fear. Affectation is also normal because it happens over centuries and decades by majority culture. You have an official policy of denying privilege and protection to citizens because of their race ( Jim Crow was legal oppression ) and you have the affect of that practice lasting generations.

            …Your problem is that you think small. This is about solutions and to solve things you have to look at the big picture and “AFFECT”. That is what you are facing in Racial issues. Keep yr blessing…you are the sarcastic one without merit…ILOL!

          • Truth seeker says:

            Ethnocentric-the idea that your race is superior. That is the definition Barry. That is what you are projecting. I have no guilt. I did nothing to anyone. I am not afraid.

            It is you. Why should anyone feel guilty for crimes they did not commit? If you have a problem with the oppressors of the past, dig up their bodies and start beating ’em up, otherwise leave people who have not hurt you alone. Do not punish people for other people’s crimes.

            Stop acting like a helpless victim and be a MAN. Grow up and be accountable for your actions and stop blaming other people.

          • barry irving says:

            …Ethnocentric does NOT mean seeing your Race as superior. That is pure garbage. Ethnocetricism means being “CENTERED” in your heritage or ancestry. There is no foul in being centered in the tradition that you were born into.

            …You can’t say that being Ethno Centric or Afro Centric is anything but natural and practical. Traditions matter. Being of Diaspora does not mean that you have to give up your ancestry and identity. You gain a national citizenship…that’s it.

            …you can talk all the garbage you want about blame and victimization…


            …this is how you and those of your ilk attempt to trivialize your critics…it’s NOT WORKING!

  3. Dracu says:

    It bears repeating almost on a daily basis, that no race, ethnicity or culture anywhere on earth have a monopoly on rudeness, arrogance, prejudice, ignorance or just plain meanness. That being said, though, if I was born Black in this country….I would probably find it hard to trust, let alone like, most White folks here. And, it doesn’t matter what part of the country you are from these days. There are a lot of White Southerners who are more tolerant of Black people today, than their White brothers and sisters elsewhere.

  4. seartangel says:

    Interesting story Steve.

    Yeah – it’s still rough in places down here. I tell people there are days when I feel like I have landed smack dab in the middle of the set for the movie called “The Help.”

    Old habits die hard. My relocation from more progressive neighborhoods in the northeast that represented many races and cultures to one with “stagnant pockets” in areas of rural Alabama has been an eye-opener; an uncomfortable time-warp.”

    The “n-word” is still a blanket reference. It’s bad enough when that reference is spoken by older generations; it’s a “slap-in-the-face” to those who fought for equality as freedom riders, foot-soldiers, etc. when young, black people use that term.

    • johnny reb says:

      i feel so bad that black people where treated like that from the 20’s and 80’s and still today but heres a litle education on the confederate flag it was only ment to be used by the army and the navy NEVER groups like the KKK it was misinterped.
      How do you feel about black confederate soldiers?
      Well confederate general nathen B Foresst took 45 slaves with him to war only 1 went awol and fort pelow wasn’t a masicer of black yankees they wouldn’t serrender so they whear all killed (I apologise for my bad spelling sirs.) and hey rednecks ain’t dumb just look at our adshevements moonshine the tow truck carco containers the water filter ect. DEO VENDICE

      • George Bailey says:

        There were no such things as “black confederate soldiers.”

        That picture shows a confederate soldier and his family-assigned enslaved person, not a fellow soldier. This story was recently publicized in the NY Times. It was a common practice. That enslaved person had a “wife” and children back at the plantation so going awol was not an option. I assume the same was true of Forrest’s enslaved persons.

        And why would “black yankees” surrender to confederate soldiers? That would be the same as volunteering to be executed or sold (back) into enslavement. Fighting to the death was the better option.

      • barry irving says:

        …many African descendants who fought in the war had subservient positions. Many fought in place of their Slave Masters
        and part of the deal was freedom afterwards. That Freedom did not materialize as promised for many!

  5. barry irving says:

    ..and rightfully so!

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