I am a Southerner. I have lived in 3 cities in my life; 18 years in a rural town in North Alabama, 5 in Atlanta and 12 in Birmingham, Alabama. I grew up middle class, white in a small racially divided town. I grew up in a culture where rebel flags were flown off the back of pick up trucks, they were worn on hats and raised on makeshift poles in people’s yards. I was taught that these were symbols of heritage, reminders of who we were and who we are.
I grew up with parents that used the word “nigger” in regular conversation, when they were angry and when they talked about the people who lived in “pepper town”.
One of my earliest memories of my dad is him coming home from work covered in wisps of cotton, a machinist in the local cotton mill, wearing a white t-shirt and his black, fishnet work hat embossed with a rebel flag. I remember being very young and carefully helping him place a bumper sticker on his lime green, late 70’s beat up pick-up truck.
The sticker was a rebel flag with the words “Keep It Flyin”
I remember being in 4th grade and calling another little boy, an African American 5th grader, “nigger” because that is what he was in my world. A nigger.
This is my pedigree. Continue Reading…