You Lost, Get Over It
This is an editorial I wrote for our school newspaper. Someone told me to put it on here, even though we live more in the Vancouver area.
People as a whole, have many different ideals, morals, and ways of life. When those factors get in the way of receiving an education, than there is definitely a problem. The question is; where do we draw the line?
The confederate flag goes all the way back to the Civil War. The confederate south used the southern cross as their battle flag during the war. Ever since then, some southern states have flown the confederate flag or state flags similar to it right next to the American flag.
In the 1950's and 1960's the southern states raised these flags as a defiant stand against integration. Denmark Groover, the Georgia House floor leader in 1956 suggested that the state legislature incorporate the southern cross into it's own state flag. At that time, many of Georgia's political assets were outspoken segregationists who admittedly were against the federal integration orders. In 2001, forty-five years later, Groover now wants the southern cross to be removed from Georgia's state flag.
It has become apparent that confederate flags have been flying from vehicles, sewn on to jackets, and worn on hats at Prairie. I wanted to find out what the flag was doing all the way up here in the northwest.
David Jones, a senior at Prairie flies the confederate flag as an ode to his family history. His dad gave him the confederate flag in the first place, since he is from the south, and he thinks it shouldn't offend anyone since "It's just a [freaking] state flag." Even though the administration told him to take his flag down a couple weeks into school, Jones still flies it on his truck. He doesn't consider himself to be racist because he said, "The [African-American people] fought for that [freaking] flag."
John Omeara, a junior also at Prairie agrees with Jones. Within the first month of the school year, Omeara was reprimanded by the administration for flying the confederate flag on his truck. Ironically he got his flag from Jones. Omeara doesn't feel there is anything wrong with the confederate flag. He likes the colors of it and thinks it represents his personality. He even has a confederate flag cell phone cover. Omeara said, "I did it to see what [the administration's] reaction would be." He said that he got in trouble because our principal, Greg Parcher feels it is a racist flag.
Some argue that it is their right under the 1st amendment to fly the confederate flag as part of their freedom of speech. However, when students attend a public school they have to realize that their rights may be compromised due to school rules, and if they don't like it then they should transfer somewhere else.
In Prairie's student handbook it clearly says, "Any materials or actions that either intentionally or unintentionally degrade, insult, or malign another person based on his/her race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or gender will not be tolerated." The confederate flag fits under that description perfectly. It is well known that the Ku Klux Klan and over five hundred extremist groups use the southern cross as one of their symbols, therefore it is banned from our school.
Richard Jones, the senior counselor at Prairie (not to be confused with the previous Jones) said in reference to the confederate flag, that, "It's a negative part of our history." Jones also said that a degrading symbol like the southern cross violates the school's policy. To Jones, it would make a good debate about the freedom of speech, but he said that when it comes to symbols of oppression someone has to intervene. Also, Jones said, "Most prejudice comes from ignorance," in regard to supporters of the confederacy.
Last year Jones started the diversity club at Prairie. Although there weren't a lot of students involved in it, they accomplished a lot. Martin Luther King Jr. is Jones' personal mentor because of his courage to speak out about racism without being scared, knowing that he'd probably die for his beliefs. With the help of Jones, the diversity club held the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly last year, and he thought it was well received. They're also planning on having an MLK assembly this year. However, Jones feels that one assembly a year isn't enough. He believes that the subject should be addressed every day, because educating people is more effective than pushing them down.
Phil Neff, a senior at Prairie and amnesty international member believes that the confederate flag is extremely distasteful. He said that in a public school you can't be using the flag, because it is seen as a form of harassment. Neff said, "I think, as a symbol, the confederate flag has too strong of a connection with the idea of racism to be an acceptable symbol of a state or to define a person."
The fact is that it's not socially acceptable to don the confederate flag in Prairie's school setting, let alone showing it in public. Even if it has some sort of tie in with a person's heritage, there is no reason it should be in the northwest. It's hypocritical to support something that stands for southern pride when we are in Washington state. Hopefully, our nation's citizens will open their eyes and realize that the confederate flag and/or racism will not be tolerated in the United States any longer.
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