Kid Rock Gives Slavery Two Thumbs Up, Receives Award

Janelle Harris
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Confederate flag
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so short and stout so I could pull off what a situation like this really calls for: a Matrix-style roundhouse kick to Kid Rock and them fools over at the Detroit chapter of the NAACP who decided to give him an award.

I wouldn’t dust off my Neo acrobatics because Kid Rock is white. Heck, the NAACP was founded in large part by benevolent white and Jewish folks. I’m offended because Robert James is a Confederate flag lover. Supports it. Waves it. Stretches one across the stage while he's performing. 

Here’s my favorite quote from the fundraiser where he was honored: “I love America. I love Detroit, and I love black people.”

Hot diz-amn! Kid Rock loves me and my fellow Negroes. Feels better than silk sheets after a fresh body wax. But what would feel even better is to tell the NAACP to grow a set and hand Kid Rock a history book.

Let’s review: less than one hundred and fifty years ago, I would have been a slave. My days would’ve been spent performing grueling labor from sun up to sun down. Not the kind of hard work that makes you wake up with stiff joints in the morning and run through a replay of your evening to figure what you did to yourself. No, I’m talking relentless labor that burdens the body with chronic aches.

After surviving hours in the field or in the house, Skylar and I — because my daughter would’ve been born into slavery, too — would’ve sat down to a meal consisting of odds and ends parceled by the master of the house. As a woman, I would’ve had to protect her and keep my own guard against the persistent sexual advances of the plantation owner or any other men lurking around, for that matter. I couldn’t say no or fight them off because remember: I’m a slave. And even hinting at self-defense would be a death sentence.

I could’ve been forced to produce babies with men I didn’t really know, much less love, to increase the slave population, like breeding. My child, my parents, my siblings, or my spouse (if I was allowed to marry at all) may have been sold away from me. I might’ve been maimed by contraptions designed to keep me from running away, branded like a piece of cattle with a hot iron, or whipped until my flesh tore away from my body in chunks.

Every time I see a Confederate flag, this is what flashes through my mind — the suffering endured by my not-so-distant ancestors. So for Kid Rock to be touting it is the equivalent of him wearing a chain with the image of a black person hanging from a noose. No matter how much he and other supporters — including some lost-in-the-sauce black folks — work to desensitize the Confederate flag’s roots, that thing has billowed over more lynchings, more cross-burnings, more fire-bombings, more hate-filled anarchy than any other symbol.

It peeked out behind the racist rants of Southern politicians like David Duke and Strom Thurmond. It’s been in the backdrop of every Ku Klux Klan rally. Folks on the defense insist that the flag itself doesn’t represent racism. Yet some wayward Betsy Ross-type sewed it on up to fly over a Confederacy determined to maintain its way of life based on — oh, you already know — free labor from enslaved black folks. So why even use it?

Please believe this: if T-shirts with swastikas suddenly came en vogue, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Sons and daughters of Judaism would shut that down before it got off the tarmac, much less give somebody an award who openly and outwardly supported it. On the other hand there’s the NAACP, who apparently didn’t get the “have a little bit of pride” memo.

I don’t think Kid Rock really means any harm. He’s probably one of these poor, disillusioned folks who thinks we should be over it by now and that it’s OK for him to revel in a little rural and rednecky Americana. But if he wants to shout-out the old ways of the South (even though he’s from Detroit), he better eat a plate of cheese grits or sip a mint julep under a magnolia tree and read some Harper Lee.

The Confederate flag is still a slap in the face and a tangible reminder of the centuries that Africans were confined to being property, not people. It’ll always be, in my mind anyway, the crowning insult on a tradition of disrespect.

What does the Confederate flag mean in 2011? Is it offensive? Or is it just part of the fabric of America?

Image via {just jennifer}/Flickr

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