Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .

Article #23: Here ... Let Me Wipe My *** With It - Me & The Confederate Flag

Seems to me that this country is more divided than ever. BUT, there, too, lies the beauty of this country -- everyone has the right and freedom to pick and choose as s/he believes. We must preserve this freedom. The scary part is if we lose this freedom. And, with HB 751 (that I wrote about last time) and with the federal government's recent Marriage Amendment Act, this freedom is indeed in jeopardy for many people. But, I won't go into that right now.

What's on my mind these days is who's on what side. I am constantly shocked. When I was an activist in my youth, it was relatively easy to see where people stood, it was as clear as black and white. Today, I am totally surprised when someone with no health insurance embraces the Republican party. Or when a staunch church-going black person denounces homosexuals when many of these churches are often blessed to have gays direct their choirs and play their pianos. Yep -- surprises me.

At a gathering this past weekend, I was amongst several of my liberal friends. We had discussions about the Democratic Convention, Al Sharpton's speech there (that's who I voted for in the primary), the war in Iraq, Bill Cosby's comments about blacks being irresponsible in raising their children, the recent city council elections, etc. There were pros and cons for most every topic and. . . we were all liberals.

Later, we talked about Wal-Mart. Some folks said they refused to shop there, but I said that I definitely do. There are lots of reasons why I do, but the main example I gave was that my 91 year old Mom is on a fixed income and Wal-Mart's drugs are the cheapest in this country. I'm sure my position surprised some and I could have argued my decision, but I opted out of the conversation for fear I'd come out of my black bag and raise poverty and employment issues. (BTW, as is sometimes the case, I was the only black present.)

However, the discussion had triggered my thinking. I started to think about where I shop and where I don't and why. About how I still don't eat at Denny's for their prior lack of service to blacks. And Wendy's for pulling ads from the Ellen sit-com show years ago. And at Cracker Barrel because they wouldn't hire homosexuals. And the local French restaurant, for desecrating Saffire posters.

Then my list really started growing because of the most divisive icon in my life. That icon is ever present. It permeates my daily existence. It is embraced by many folks that I know. People, even liberals, often patronize facilities that use and support this icon. They have every right to do so -- just as I have every right not to. And, lo!, as my muse would have it -- a song was born. . . the first song I've written this year. I share it with you here:

Adegbalola 8/2004

Spoken intro: I’ve seen it most every day of my life
Often in the night time too --
It visits me in my sleep
Hatred staring at me. . .
Perpetually. . .
Perpetually. . .

I’ve seen it on a T-shirt
Seen it on a hat
Seen it on Republicans
And on a Democrat
Seen it on a car
Seen it on a truck
Seen it on those SUVs
And the side of a bus

CHORUS: Yes, I’ve seen it
Seen it, seen it
Seen it all of my life
Seen it on a church
Seen it on the steeple
Seen it everywhere
BUT. . . never on black people

I’ve seen it in the antique stores
Seen it in the mall
Seen it in the schoolhouse
And when they play football
Seen it on whiskey bottles
And decorations for a dance
Seen it down in Dixie
In Europe and in France


I’ve seen it on diapers
And on a baby’s bib
Seen it on a doll
Sitting in a baby’s crib
Seen it on the good ol’boys
On the rescue squad
Seen it on a Bible
In the name of God


I’ve seen it on a sweater
On a lil’ bitty dog
Seen it on canned food
On meat from a hog
And in the produce section
Printed on some fruit
Umbrellas at the beaches
Seen it on a bathing suit


Seen it on the KKK
On their sheets and hood
Even seen it on some people
Who think they’re doing good
A symbol, like a swastika,
Your heritage, it’s true
You have every right to love it
BUT -- I have a right to hate it too


Spoken outro: Oh yes, I’ve seen it
I seen it, I seen it
I seen it all my life
You may say it says something different,
But I’m the one who reads it
And it says to me
That you hate me
And that you love
. . . Slavery
So. . . here, let me wipe my ass with it

There 'tis. Haven't finished tweaking it yet. At the moment, it's still raw and true. Should you have other unusual sightings of this icon, please share them with me. Just might become another image in this song.

In liberation,

An aside: Many years ago, my son was in the Head Start Program. One day when the students visited the wading pool, I was the chaperone. My son was eager to introduce me to his best buddy -- the cutest little snaggle-toothed, freckled-faced white boy. Mind you now, I was in my black power days with shoulder-to-shoulder afro and mind set to match. As the kids were to board the bus to return to school, my son's buddy called him over to dry him off and to share his beach towel. Then the two of them skipped off to the bus wrapped in his big confederate flag beach towel. My son's teacher called me over and asked "now what are you going to do about that?" With tears in my eyes, I replied "not a thing. . . Nothing."