On June 27, 2020, the Mississippi legislature made its first steps to take down the antiquated, controversial symbol that has flown over our state since 1894. I have never been prouder to be a Mississippian. This change is not only welcomed but embraced by many of Mississippi's citizens. We have been tirelessly contacting representatives, lobbying for change, and designing alternatives to the confederate imagery associated with the banner that will, hopefully, represent our state no longer.
We aren't the only ones fighting for our opinion to be heard, though. There are many people who see the changing of the flag as a step backward for our state rather than a step forward. The most prevalent argument among this group is that the flag "represents the state of Mississippi and the South" and to change it is an "erasure of our Southern heritage."
As someone who has lived in the South her whole life, I have a different opinion about what represents our community best.
When you are from the South, you have seemingly endless aunts, uncles, and cousins; your family is large, stays as close as possible despite their distance, and gets together at least once a year for the funeral of a loved one. For a typical Southern family, these funerals often last days before and after the actual service, and relatives will gather regardless of distance to reminisce and spend time together before saying goodbye to their loved one. The one constant that has gotten me through all of these hard weeks of grieving is an art that has been perfected by Southern communities: funeral food.
For those hungry for a representation of what the South does best — what we should highlight about our "Southern heritage" — I offer you a plate of sandwiches, salads, vegetables, endless varieties of casserole, and, for dessert, enough cakes and platters of cookies to line the walls of a church fellowship hall. This food was prepared with love by people who will grieve with you, rebuild after hurricanes with you, and will stand by you through the trials of life, no matter what they may be, all regardless of who you are or where you come from.
We deserve a flag that celebrates the culture of community that is made evident through Southern traditions like funeral food, not the horrors of slavery and injustice entwined in every thread of the confederate flag.
I have only ever known a South that is loving and kind and hospitable, but the reality is that my view is shaped by the privilege I have as a white Southerner. I, and other white Southerners, must listen to our black brothers and sisters. We must understand what continuing to fly this flag says about our state and our values. We must realize we can never detach the confederate flag from the rhetoric of hatred that it represents in the South. We can, however, remove the 1894 flag from our state and refuse to condone injustice of any kind.
Mississippi, it is time to let go of the 1894 flag and what it represents.
It is time to contact your legislators and let them know that we are moving in the right direction. It is time to love our communities just as they have loved us through our darkest times and fight for a flag that we can all champion. It is time to move forward from the atrocities we have committed as a state and a nation and abandon idols like this flag that will continue to hurt the neighbors we are very clearly called to love.
I will repeat until I cannot anymore: It is time for change. It is time for change. It is time for change.
Take it down.