Displaying and Teaching the Confederate Flag in the Classroom (Part 2)

In a previous post I wrote about the new project I instituted in my United States History classes which deals with the Confederate Battle Flag. In short, the goal of the activity is to have students reflect on how they view the flag and to evaluate that view as the school year progresses. You can read more about that here. I began the year long project by having students write down on index cards, in three words or less, what they thought when they saw a Confederate Flag. I clarified to students that I did not mean the Confederate Flag in a classroom or in a museum where there is context, but what they thought when the saw the flag in public, on an automobile, on a state house, or on the side of the highway. I also asked students to write down a couple of descriptive words to clarify what they thought. Student responses were then copied onto a spreadsheet so that I could compile data on how students viewed the CBF at the beginning of the school year. One hundred and fourteen students responded, and here are the results.

114 Total Responses

Demographics of Respondents 

Percentage Race/Ethnicity
13.2% Asian/Pacific Islander
28.1% Black/African-American
21.9% Hispanic/Latino
3.5% Other
33.3% White
 

 

Percentage Native/Foreign Born
53.5% 3rd generation American or Greater
33.3% 1st or 2nd generation American
13.2% Foreign Born
   

 

Percentage Overall View of the Flag
15.8% Positive
11.4% Neutral
72.8% Negative
 

Racial Breakdown of Data

 

   
Asian/Pacific Islander
Percentage Positive/Negative/Neutral
13.3% Positive
13.3% Neutral
73.3% Negative
Black/African-American
Percentage Positive/Negative/Neutral
0% Positive
6.3% Neutral
93.8% Negative
Hispanic/Latino
Number of Responses Positive/Negative/Neutral
4% Positive
8% Neutral
88% Negative
Other
Number of Responses Positive/Negative/Neutral
0% Positive
25% Neutral
75% Negative
White
Number of Responses Positive/Negative/Neutral
39.5% Positive
15.8% Neutral
44.7% Negative

 

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11 thoughts on “Displaying and Teaching the Confederate Flag in the Classroom (Part 2)

    1. I did – All of the students copied information from their index card to a Google Form which compiled the data into a spreadsheet for me. The only thing I did was assess between “positive, negative, or neutral.” Granted there is a margin of error on this, but that is why I had them write down descriptions of what they though. For ex. Someone may have wrote “Southern,” but clarified that statement by saying “racism, civil war, civil rights,” which indicates a negative view. All pop culture references, unless the students demonstrated a general likeness, got a “neutral” rating. So too did responses that said “Southern” and clarified by saying “Heritage, Racism, History.”

    1. Jimmy Dick

      It does not make a difference if they were born in the South or not. The idea that only southerners control the meaning of the CBF is garbage. As for learning some demographic data, I think that is interesting, but I point back to it not making a difference on how the flag is interpreted. The racism associated with the flag does not involve regional boundaries.

      1. It does not make a difference if they were born in the South or not.

        I think it does actually. It is something I will include on the final poll. If nothing else, it would be interesting to see how many people born in the south view the flag as negative or positive – especially when broken down by race.

        The idea that only southerners control the meaning of the CBF is garbage.

        That, I agree with.

        1. Whether or not a kid grew up in — note, not was born in — the South probably makes a difference in how he or she perceives the Confederate Battle Flag, through acculturation and exposure over a long period. But racial attitudes (and everything else) develop exactly the same way, through acculturation and exposure over time. No surprises there. A kid who grew up in Suwanee will, inevitably, have a different perspective than one who just moved there, in the same way that an African American kid from Suwanee will have a different perspective than a white one. That’s just how people work.

          The heritage crowd almost always circles back to some variant of identifying people who disagree with them as either malevolent or ignorant outsiders, often accompanied with nasty racial/ethnic bigotry — e.g., the head of one flagging group referring to the Sikh mayor of Charlottesville as a “raghead.” If that’s what it takes to let those folks feel righteously superior about themselves, fine. But it’s a losing argument in the 21st century. There’s no special reason that people in 2015, whether newly-arrived immigrants or those of us whose lineage goes back to antebellum Georgia and beyond, have an obligation of fealty to the Confederates (or Unionists) of a hundred fifty years ago. Their words and deeds need to stand on their own merits, or lack of them.

          Rob is doing a good job letting his students explore their views on this extremely divisive topic, and to challenge each others’ views on the subject. That’s healthy, and far preferable to the heritage crowd’s angry dismissal (or worse) of people who disagree with them.

          1. BorderRuffian

            AH-
            The heritage crowd almost always circles back to some variant of identifying people who disagree with them as either malevolent or ignorant outsiders, often accompanied with nasty racial/ethnic bigotry — e.g., the head of one flagging group referring to the Sikh mayor of Charlottesville as a “raghead.”

            And I’ve seen anti-Confederate Heritage types use terms such as “white trash.” Some in that group appear to be as bigoted as they claim others to be.

          2. I have a question which you may or may not be able to answer. Why are there so many heritage advocates who engage in psychological projection? So many of the group blame others of “bigotry;” a common accusation thrown at Heritage advocates due to their denial of race and slavery’s role in the Civil War and history of the flag.

          3. Jimmy Dick

            BR,
            Because calling them racist scumbags doesn’t piss them off as much as calling them white trash does. I really should not call them either one, but I don’t have a lot of tact. I get tired of arguing with racists who prefer fiction over facts so they can maintain their white supremacist beliefs.

          4. Whether or not a kid grew up in — note, not was born in — the South probably makes a difference in how he or she perceives the Confederate Battle Flag, through acculturation and exposure over a long period.

            Absolutely – I think growing up and being molded by a culture does have an impact on how one interprets the Confederate Flag.

            he heritage crowd almost always circles back to some variant of identifying people who disagree with them as either malevolent or ignorant outsiders,

            Or, like in your case and mine, if a born and raised Southerner disagreed with the heritage group; said person was indoctrinated by “Yankee/Liberal lies.”

            Thanks for the compliments concerning my project. I think it is more valuable for the students to take the lead in evaluating their own views as opposed the school passing some policy concerning the flag.

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