We’ve just returned from the first vacation my husband and I have taken together in at least five years. A week at the beach was “just what the doctor ordered,” and we had a wonderful time. During the drive from North Georgia to Florida we were just excited to be getting away. But the drive back, especially through South Georgia, has prompted some observations:
Driving the back roads may take longer, but the scenery is generally nicer and there’s less traffic than when driving on the interstate.
We take the old highways, the ones that were the major highways before the interstates were constructed. In South Georgia, these old highways go directly through the towns. The scenery is ever-changing, and many of the towns are lovely little places, at least for some people.
The farther south you travel in Georgia, the more cotton fields and the more Confederate battle flags you see, including one flag on Highway 520 that is flying from a 50-foot flagpole on the edge of acres of cotton.
This does not make me feel comfortable, and I’m Caucasian. If I were African American, this would almost strike fear in me. There are houses, vehicles, and businesses all flying either the old Georgia state flag which incorporates the Confederate battle flag and looks like this:
or they fly the actual Confederate Stars and Bars:
Is this heritage? I grew up in the segregated South and remember the White Citizens Councils and all the racist code words. As a citizen of the State of Georgia and a native Southerner, I don’t see this as heritage. Placing a Confederate battle flag among cotton fields that once were worked by slaves sends only one message to me. I see it as what it is: racism.
White folks in South Georgia speed down the highway. African Americans and Mexicans do not exceed the speed limit and usually drive slightly below the limit.
I tend to drive only slightly above the speed limit and am continually being passed by other drivers who think I’m driving too slowly. On this trip I noticed that the drivers who passed me always were white. The drivers who I passed were African American or Mexican. No wonder! Considering recent events in this country, I wouldn’t want to be stopped for speeding if I were not Caucasian, especially in counties where the Confederate flag flies high over the cotton fields.