Almost 30 years ago a friend opened a restaurant in Key West that proudly displayed the confederate flag.
The restaurant was called Savannah with a focus on good old-fashioned Southern cooking.
I approached my friend and stated I could never eat in his establishment as long as that flag was flying.
A white, gay man who was raised in the south, Garth was genuinely clueless that the confederate flag was offensive and a symbol of hate, intolerance, oppression and intimidation to many.
After a lengthy discussion, Garth took down the flag, and I, to show my support, made a reservation for dinner at his restaurant.
Delighted to see a “Vegetarian Plate” featured on the menu, I ordered the combination of black-eyed peas, corn bread, corn-on-the-cob, mashed potatoes and collard greens.
Our food arrived and I immediately noticed a big hunk of animal fat sitting on top of the collards.
I called Garth over and calmly asked him why there was meat on the “Vegetarian Plate?”
“Honey”, he replied, in his thick Southern drawl, “You just can’t make collard greens without ham hocks.”
Garth was not a mean or stupid person, just woefully uninformed and steadfast in his Southern beliefs and traditions.
It never occurred to him, until confronted, that the flag he flew was a racist symbol or why a vegetarian would be upset when a piece of meat arrived on their Vegetarian Plate.
This country, and especially the South, is full of Garths, and they are being confronted full speed ahead.
Backlash? – you bet, but the confederate flag, just like the word nigger, will never be uttered or now proudly flown without mainstream condemnation.
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