I am inclined to believe that there really are people that wave the confederate flag as a sign of allegiance to their heritage and not hate……….based on what I have experienced. One family in particular was so nice to me that I would walk gingerly around them for fear that one day I would be hit with a barrage of racial epithets. Through all of the tiptoeing I found the family to be one of the most inviting ever. So much so that I spent a great deal of time around them. I suppose the confederate flag started as the elephant in the room, but became the elephant that met its match in the harmless little mouse.
At one point in the late eighties early nineties the fad was that of dipping car trimmings in gold. One of the local street legends had a side business doing it. So one day a friend and I were standing in the parking lot at Putt-Putt just talking to a couple of guys. One of the guys complemented my friend’s car and suggested that he get it trimmed in gold. He said, “I’m not trimming it in gold and some nigger steal it.” The two guys that we were talking to had their mouths open and their eyes bucked like they saw a ghost. Their eyes went from him to me and back to him, then back to me. I waited to see if he knew what he said, which he did not. So as time froze the quintessential showdown betwixt essentially good and evil was about to unfold. I did what any black man would have done……balled up my fist…………..and…………..and……………and…………muted myself. In that moment, as I did in the other moments, I spent my energy on analyzing why without actually confronting and asking the individual of their intent. The thing that hurt me the most was that he did not know that he said it. That to me said it was embedded into his vocabulary.
I stopped talking to him. At the time we were hitting clubs, boozing it up on a regular, basically enjoying life as we would have said. There may have been a time when he even called and asked to see if everything was good. Again, the shock of him not knowing was disturbing.