Three colors: the red, the white and the blue. For most, the only flag thought of is the one flying high around the entire country of the United States, however for some, there is an entirely different thought process.
In the wake of the terrible shooting in South Carolina there has been an increasing amount of discussion with the role and place the Confederate Battle Flag has in today’s society. Is it a symbol of southern pride? Should this flag be flown, whether at a country concert or at the governor’s capital building in South Carolina? Will there be a ban on printing the flag on tee shirts and more?
With all of these questions there is a need to truly know where this flag came from and what the true meaning is behind it before all can be decided.
The flag we see today was not the first, second or even third of the original battle flag in 1861; the original design looked extremely similar to that of our national flag with two red horizontal stripes, one middle white stripe and in the top left corner displayed 11 white stars in a circle on a blue background.
Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard felt that this flag was too similar to the other and that is when secessionist William Porcher Miles designed the one we are familiar with today. The new design was used until the fall of the Confederacy in 1865.
The design displays the Saint Andrew’s cross which many believe represents freedom and independence from oppression. There are 13 stars representing 11 states along with Kentucky and Missouri which were claimed by the confederacy, but did not secede during the Civil War.
Many believe that this flag represents being free from a larger nation that would regulate states rights, tariff policies and more. Many see this piece of cloth as a history and a characteristic of the south, however many still see it as a sign of oppression, lack of freedom, a lack of civil rights and a slight against a skin color.
Why is it seen as hatred to many? Because of the southern states choice for slavery, even if it was not meant to fully symbolize that during the Civil War. It is also seen in this horrible light due to how other groups have desecrated the flag such as neo-Nazis and white-supremacists.
A flag that may represent freedom to one may symbolize segregation to another.
Now, what does this mean for the fashion industry though? There are copious amounts of merchandise displaying the Confederate flag from bathing suits to shorts to underwear and socks.
In 2013 Kanye West himself flashed the Confederate Flag on his flight jacket and even sold merchandise displaying this symbol on his Yeezus tour. Everyone’s reaction was the same, ‘Why is Kanye wearing a symbol on his arm of the very thing that represents slavery, oppression, etc..?’ The answer West gave makes complete sense, not only for his outspoken self but for many others in the music industry who have done the same thing.
In an interview with Los Angeles radio station 97.1 AMP, West said, “React how you want,” West said. “Any energy is good energy. The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.”
After the tragedy in South Carolina West performed a freestyle on June 20 expressing what seemed to be some of his current views on racism and the horrible event, “See that’s the magic of racism, it works on itself/ We hate each other, screw each other, kill each other/ When we can’t kill nobody else/ See that’s the magic of lack of resources, it works on itself/ 500 n–gas getting pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-popped, and North Carolina didn’t help/ See that’s the magic of racism, it works on itself/ N–gas hate n–gas hate n–gas hate n–gas hate n–gas hate n–gas hate n–gas.”
(Even though there is a slight geographical issue.)
Currently large retailers like Walmart, eBay and Sears have all pulled merchandise displaying the flag, but this is after a massive surge in sales of those products.
One of the best ways to combat an issue is to do exactly what West did. Take something that is made to embarrass and insult, but make it known that you could care less OR that you have an entirely different meaning of it than the latter.
Fashion is a way to express feelings, emotions and even controversy. It screams your personality and views from a mile away. Now, will this symbol be banned from clothing, no one knows for sure. However, what is known is that just because a Confederate Flag’s controversial meaning is ingrained in the symbol, does not mean that it represents that same meaning each time it is worn.