By Deanna Kay Phillips
A sign of rebellion or a sign of racism? In the past several years the Confederate Flag has been brought into debate much more than what it used to be. It has always been a matter of much debate as to whether Old Dixie is a relic of history or something to try and erase. Most people are of two mind frames. It’s a historical artifact and needs to be saved, or it’s bad because it represents slavery. I leave it open to you as the reader to decide if it’s bad or not, or if it’s just one of those things in history that means many different things now.
There are actually many different designs of this flag, but the one that people recognize the most is the red flag with the big blue “X” and the white stars. There are thirteen white stars on that blue X, representing the original thirteen colonies and how they were all united until slavery started. Then there became a divide between the North and the South. The big blue X is covering the white stars signaling that the South no longer wants to be part of this new all-powerful government. They wanted to go back to each state handling its own government instead of the larger government having the most power. The original Confederate Flag was the Stars and Bars, which had only three lines, two red one white and a blue square in the upper corner with thirteen white stars in a circle.
The Civil War was more about who was in power than about slavery. Slavery was the start, but people in the South had grown up with that way of life and had never thought about it too much. What they cared about was that the people up north, who had no clue what they were going through in the South, were trying to tell them what to do. The people of the South were fighting for the ability to govern themselves, not necessarily for the right to have slaves but for the right to do as they saw fit.
This is no different than people wanting the right to do as they see fit in their everyday life. I’m not saying slavery is right. No person should control and treat another in such a way. What’s so wrong with wanting a little freedom of government? The U.S. does stand for freedom, after all.
To me, the Confederate flag is neither good nor bad. it is what you make of it, and what it makes you think of when you see it. When I see this flag, I think of teenagers who are ready to do things their way, teenagers who are tired of older people telling them what to do and what they can’t do. A flag, a statue, a name; it’s all about perspective. Something that can be changed over time, if people are willing to change their perspective.
Who knows what would have happened if the North had left the South alone? They could have changed their ways. It might have been slow, but it could have happened. There is no point wondering “what if.” What happened has happened, and there’s nothing that can be done to change it. This flag is what you will make of it. If I’ve done my job as a writer, I have hopefully opened your eyes a little wider, or I may have convinced you that this flag is the most horrible thing ever because it still stands for slavery in your mind. Also keep this in mind, some schools are changing their names because the people they’re named after had slaves. George Washington had slaves, and Christopher Columbus treated the Natives horribly. Does that mean that their names should be erased from schools and streets? Does the good they did outweigh the bad?
Deanna Kay Phillips is a student at Mabel-Canton High School. She is one of seven area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 19th year.