In South Carolina last week, the world was appalled when a Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston and shot it up, killing nine people. It was one of the most unspeakable tragedies since…..the last unspeakable tragedy involving weapons and innocent people.

Immediately the debate wasn’t about how this kid became more and more enraged at black people, it became about guns and more’s the case, the Confederate Flag. The flag, which still flies high at the State Capital in Charleston, is a symbol of racism for many people, yet the State government has refused to do anything about it (well, they just passed a vote that they will TALK about it at least). The flag is also an emblem of the ‘Southern Thing’, where people below the Mason-Dixon (or should we say ‘Dixie’) line sport it proudly to show they aren’t related in any way to ‘those people up there’.

‘Burn the flag!’ they shouted in the streets of Twitter. ‘Burn the people that wear the flag!’, they screamed.

Well, Walmart, Sears, Amazon and EBay have all stopped selling the confederate flag. PR move or wise move? Depends what the cynics feel. I’m inclined to feel the former, bearing in mind that the confederate flag’s been a symbol of racism a lot long than any of these companies have been around, and they had no problem up til now in selling it. I’m happy to keep it out of people’s hands. Especially the racist idiots who will use a shooting like this as some sort of circle-jerk celebration they can have while burning a cross (WAIT! THAT DOESN’T GO ON ANYMORE!!).

I love the South, I love football, I love our hospitality, I love (maybe too much) our food and beverages, I love our weather (sometimes), and I love the feeling of being – yes – a Southerner. If a Southerner can’t be a proud Southerner without having a stupid flag, then they should really go and seek professional help. The South is worth being proud of.

I’m pretty miffed that NASCAR – who is very much tied into the ‘Southern thing’, despite racing a ton of laps in other places other than the South now has put out a statement about the Charleston shooting, but the Southeastern Conference has shut its mouth. It needs to open it, and fast. The only person to have opened his mouth about the South Carolina shooting is Steve Spurrier, who called for the flag to be removed in 2007.

But let’s go back to the flag. Taking it down, illegalizing like the swaztika and shooting any member who wears it as a patch – for me – while being a good thing, won’t suddenly rid the South of racists. It certainly won’t rid our football stadiums of them. They won’t stop people on The Grove referring to black folk as ‘them’. It won’t stop idiots like the guy I met in Baton Rouge calling Barack Obama something unrepeatable. It won’t stop white cops wrongly beating up innocent black people, and it won’t stop idiots tweeting me to tell me that sooner or later, a race war is coming between black and white people (since been deleted because it was either that or throwing the phone across the room and jumping on it). It won’t stop black people not talking to white people or calling them ‘crackers’. It won’t stop ‘historically white’ and ‘historically black’ fraternities at our SEC universities.

If we are truly going to see change, it’s not going to be just about changing a goddamn flag. It’s about changing a mindset. And it’s about changing mindsets from Gainseville to the Tennessee Appalachians, from New Orleans to Austin, from Alabama to Oxford to Starkville to Athens to Atlanta to Charlotte to small farming towns.

If anyone’s got any ideas, let me know.

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