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Tag Archives: flag controversy

Can Blacks “claim” the Confederate Flag like we “claimed” the N-word?

A South Carolina college student has caused a stir by displaying the Confederate Flag in his dorm room.  The student, who is Black, acknowledged that its “kind of weird” because he is Black, but according to the article, he feels the meaning of the flag has been hijacked.

“I’ve been getting a lot of support from people,” Byron Thomas says.  “My generation is interested in freedom of speech.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen such.  Some years back, there was an attempt to use the flag on some hip hop inspired gear.  To my knowledge, the fad didn’t catch on.

But while many other people are freaking out about Thomas’ display of the flag, I had a different reaction.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference is between staking a claim on the confederate flag and doing the same to the N-word.

Now, for those of you who are not fans of the word “nigger” (or “nigga,” “nig,” “ninja,” or whatever variant you may have heard), this isn’t for you, as you will say both are hateful, devisive, and have no place in today’s society.  But then there are those of you who, like me, know the history of the word, yet admit to using it in jest among friends on occasion.  I’ve heard people say that we have taken the hateful word and claimed it to take away its negative power and energy.  Or maybe it’s that it’s fun to use and we just don’t care about its origin.  Regardless, it gets used.

But my point is this:  can those of us comfortable with the n-word be mad if today’s generation wants to do the same to the rebel flag?  My first inclination is to continue to treat them differently, but upon reflection, I realize it’s a hypocritical stance.  They both have similar histories.  It’s just that they hit in different ways–one hits the brain visually, the other audibly.  In the end, who am I to say that they are crazy for attempting to change the the status quo regarding one of the most divisive symbols in history.

Not everyone will agree.  But I guess all I can say is, more power to ya, Byron.