We were driving down highway 74 making our way back to Charlotte from Lake Lure, North Carolina when we spotted all this white outside of the car window. I thought it was cotton but since I had never seen it in person I wasn’t sure so we got off the highway and yep, it was tons of cotton. It seemed to go on forever as you can see in the pic below. There was a road to the left of the pic which we drove on for several minutes and we saw cotton the whole time. Seeing all of that fresh cotton had all kinds of thoughts going through my head.
I mean, think about it…I was able to sit there and take pictures of it and my ancestors had to pick it. I thought about how things have changed so much in America. I am the granddaughter of a share cropper who never flew in an airplane because that just wasn’t even in his realm of possibility and just two generations later his flesh and blood had a job being paid to fly all over the world and take people on their vacations.
I thought about all the Black women that came before me that had their fingers permanently disfigured and their backs bent because they had to stoop to pick cotton, and my nails were manicured and my posture was perfect as I took pictures of the product that provided me comfort but brought them nothing but pain.
And then I looked around and saw this cemetery directly across the street from the cotton and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Those confederate flags were standing on the graves and waving in the wind. To me, those flags are a flagrant reminder of those that mourn the loss of the way life once was in the South. Those flags weren’t old, they were fairly new which means that someone has put those there in honor of the men that are now underneath the dirt.
As I stood there and looked at the confederate flags waving I thought it was ironic, sad and pathetic that this beautiful cotton reminded me of the past that I am so glad I don’t have any memories of, and these flags reminded me that there are people that live not far from me that still think it’s ok to wave a confederate flag. As a Black woman, it flies in the face of decency that this flag still exists. This flag that from my perspective represents a desire had by some to keep a race of people chained and in servitude.
As we got back into the car I was grateful. And I was angry. Grateful that I was born free, that I have a life where I have choices and grateful that the only thing I know about cotton is how it feels against my skin. But I was also angry. Angry that my ancestors had to do all the things that I am grateful that I didn’t have to do, and really angry that in 2016, these flags are allowed to wave freely and that people don’t see how keeping confederate flags is just plain wrong.