Now, I try to be that "Southern Gentleman" type. I want those I interact with to feel the hospitality and gentility that the idealized South should be known for offering. Sure, I'd love to have that flag mean these things, but I have to come to terms with the fact that it doesn't, at least, not exclusively. if there was a way to strip that association, to 'take it back', I would in a heartbeat. Alas, I accept that someone seeing it might not be able to afford to give me the chance to show who I am. Well, folks, i can't have that.
So, here's my response to them:
Growing up in the South, I got used to the flag. it was just another thing to see, y'know? I took it as a symbol of my heritage, and left it at that. My Mom and Grandmother would have slapped the dirt off my head for making racist remarks, so I never took it to mean such a culture of hatred; I was raised to be a 'Southern Gentleman'. Sure, as i grew, I discovered it, saw the types of people with bad attitudes that revered it, but I always strove to rise above that, to show that it could represent that sense of community, of "Southern Hospitality".Am I going to throw my flag away, burn it, destroy it? No, but I'm not letting it into the light of day, either. I'll always be a Southern Boy, but I'll let people discover that by coming up to meet me, not by seeing me a mile away and having to guess.
With all that has happened over the last few months, I've been a little torn. Of course, I don't want to cause unease, but how could I try to 'take it back' if it wasn't around? I hemmed and hawed, thunk and debated, but in the end, it came down to one thing: priorities. What was truly important, that I show who I was to those around me, or that I try to let a symbol...one under a lot of scrutiny and argument, at that...make that call for me?
I'll always be proud of where I came from, and I'll always be proud to be an example of the goodness that can come from The South, but I doubt I'll ever display that flag again. I'll not risk losing out on what could be a friend, business partner, or opportunity because they couldn't take that risk of knowing if I was a racist asshole or not. I'll let my actions speak, thanks a lot.