Friday, August 15, 2008

Please ignore the confederate flag on my book

During my hour (each way) commute every day, I read. A lot.

I just finished Widow of the South by Hicks. I enjoy a nice historical fiction. And I haven't read an incredible amount on the Civil War (does watching Glory count? - go Denzel), so I thought this was a nice place to start. I enjoyed the book. It was thought provoking, touching and really gave you a sense of the complexity and sadness of war. Good and evil and right and wrong become blurred when you go from the macro to the micro level. When you go from the leaders making the decisions to the men who carry them out. To the individual level.

When you realize the infinite sadness of two parts of a whole fighting each other. That it is more complex than winning and losing. That no one wins. That even when the war is over there isn't true equality. In the South or North.

Here is my problem:

On the front cover is a sitting woman, with a confederate flag in the background.

Every time I read it on the El, I feel bad. I want to let people know that I am not down with slavery or oppression and just because it says widow of the south doesn't mean that the book is pro-slavery.

That the book is really about a confusing time in American history, directly after the war, where no one knew their place. Yes, a black man could now open his own store, but he always had to be careful not to get too successful. Yes, a white man could stand up for a black man who is being persecuted, but only if he also planned on running for his life. The ending of the war did not end racism or prejudice.

I want to tell people that education on and reading of the subject are ways to open people's eyes about the past so they can change the future. So that we can talk about our own prejudices and preconceptions. Not just float along the surface of race relations.

But mainly, I feel wrong/guilty for reading a book with such an inflammatory and disrespectful symbol on its cover.

And I am a little relieved that it is over.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”
Malcolm X


  1. i sort of felt this way with oryx & crake recently. the cover of the book is not so scandalous, but I was never sure if the people on the rapid saw adam and eve or if they saw me reading a book with a naked lady on it. so, i always covered it up a little.

    i also do this with my monthly subscription to allure.

  2. Jamie - Isn't that a women's magazine? No judgment - does it give you insight?

  3. Well, OK, I was being "wry," which doesn't carry over without the smirk. I don't actually read women's magazines...except for Domino because they always put classy, creative women on the cover and I can't help but pick it up then. I'm sure guys like me make up at least 1% of their national readership.

  4. J - HAHA could you tell I was trying to be safe in my response? I never got into Domino. You can have my place in their readership : )