Like gum in your hair, the Confederate flag just keeps hanging around.
The mere facts that it has been irrelevant for almost 150 years, is a flying banner of slavery, and damn ugly to boot are not nearly enough to wrest it off thousands of Southern bumper stickers, bandannas, and beer cozies.
Though slightly less blatant than, say, a burning cross, the flag's persistence in Southern culture has been a source of perpetual consternation for blacks (and all liberally inclined citizens) for decades. No amount of philosophical reasoning or polite argument has been enough to shake it from its perch atop their neighbors' pickup trucks' antennas. Obviously, a more provocative approach is needed.
Which is exactly what Atlanta rapper Ludacris served up at the November 12 Vibe Music Awards, when he hit the stage decked out in a Confederate flag-adorned jacket and matching pants. At the end of his song, he ripped off the outfit to reveal another, similar one in which the blue and red colors of the stars-and-bars had been replaced with the black, red, and green palette of African liberation. It was fashion as politics, at least to the extent that that's not a stupid, stupid concept.
Of course, his move didn't exactly throw the South into an uproar. The traditional fan base of the Confederate flag was busy watching the Country Music Awards, and don't know who Ludacris is. And he provoked some scattered head scratching in the hip-hop world, along the lines of, "Doesn't he know that thing is against black people?"
But this could be the start of something brilliant. If rappers all over the south take up Stonewall Jackson's flag as a fashion symbol, the country white demographic would be so disgusted, they'd have to set it aside for something more palatable.
White bed sheets, anyone?
- Hamilton Nolan wrote PR Play of the Week. He is a New York-based PRWeek reporter.
3. On the right track