::Desktop:1514623_10102257161852104_542757878730220144_n.jpg   Marissa Korchak

Confederate Who?                  

The confederate flag. My first memory of it is visiting my grandparents in Kansas City (who happen to be white) and upon my and my sister arrival, the neighbor, Mr. Henderson would always instantly make a point to come outside and hang it. It became normal to me, and it wasn't until I was about 8 years old, that I would ask my grandpa at breakfast as we looked out of the window at it flapping in the wind, "Why does he always come outside and hang that flag when we get here?"


My grandpa, who loved to share information, explained the confederacy as best as he could to his innocent 8-year old granddaughter who had never before knew of such hate. In all of my eight years on the earth that far, my life had been filled with people of all different ages, colors, shapes, and sizes. I had only ever been taught to love and appreciate everything down to the smallest ant, who carries up to five thousand times his weight to feed his colony. My family was a colorful one, with so many different perspectives to appreciate; and I loved every one!


As grandpa made his way through his history lesson, he began to give me another history lesson, only this time it was about the Henderson family. "There are people in this world who are uncomfortable with things that are different than them." I didn't fully comprehend. Mr. Henderson was just a grumpy old man to me. He was always persistent on yelling us. He always warned my sister and I to stay off of his sidewalk. He would come to the tennis court in our favorite neighborhood park and tell my sister and I to leave.


I always knew he was grumpy and unpleasant, it didn't require rocket science to come to that conclusion. I only figured maybe he didn't like us because we didn't come over as much as my other family did. We did live in Lawrence, which was about 45 minutes away from where my grandmother lived. Or maybe it was because we were little girls? Little girls who loved to explore the neighborhood and get dirty. Maybe he thought we would be better off playing with dolls somewhere as many little girls did... as grandpa continued to give me a history lesson, I didn't seem to be following where he was going. "That flag symbolizes the confederate states of America. These states supported segregation. Our family supports integration."


I remember my stomach feeling a bit uneasy as I swallowed a hard pill of understanding. He didn't like us because we were different than him? No. Because we weren't much different. We both ate breakfast and looked out of our windows, both of our families played outside, had gatherings, liked to go play at the park...he didn't like us because our SKIN looked different than his..."That has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard grandpa!" He agreed and we laughed at how some people could be so foolish. No wonder grandpa and him didn't have the best relationship. Memories replayed in my mind of Mr. Henderson yelling at us not to walk on his sidewalk and grandpa yelling at him that we could play "Wherever they want to!" After that day, I remember trying my best to get Mr. Henderson to come around so he wouldn't feel the need to hang his flag anymore. Tried to sell him things from my school fundraisers, wave hello, smile, but up until his last days, he would hang that flag when we came over.


As I grew into an adult, I always associated this flag with segregation and hate. Mr. Henderson would always display his American flag, he only chose to come outside and hang the confederate flag when my mother or my sister and I came to visit. It is because of this that 13 years later, I would cringe when I moved to the south and saw people display it so proudly...I couldn't understand how nobody was as offended as me? I felt insulted when I saw people with this flag on their shirts and matching bumper stickers on their vehicles.


My southern white friends would adamantly express to me that it was a symbol of southern pride, a symbol of southern heritage but I couldn't help but think of Mr. Henderson who used it as a symbol of disapproval for my family. I tried my best to understand my friends’ point of view, but also wondered why something else couldn't be used to symbolize southern pride?? I even had the opportunity to argue in a debate in college about the confederate flag and it’s meaning. This debate included my good friend and we were on opposite ends of the spectrum over whether the flag was a symbol for pride or hate.

Today, I can honestly say that I have learned in my life that things only have as much power as you give them. I understand that Mr. Henderson chose to display this flag as power over my family, and display his disapproval for us and I get that not everyone utilizes the flag for the same reasons that he did. I am just grateful that my family had power that was stronger, the power of love. That's what I focus on now. The removal of the flag is something I am surprisingly indifferent about. We can take down a flag, but people will still have hate in their hearts. Is this going to improve police brutality? Is it going to combat those who are wrongly imprisoned everyday? Is it going to prevent the targeting and fear of black people? Is it going to unite us all and set us on a path for peace, equality and justice? While I am happy that people have finally recognized the fact, that for many people this flag symbolizes inequality and disapproval... I am also aware that this is only a minor step on the path to equality. Love conquers all..


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