April 27, 2016

How A Confederate Flag Can Be Meaningless

How is it that the Confederate flag symbol could leave people … feeling nothing? To understand, you have to read the caption photographer Mario Tama supplied with the photo on Instagram:

People in traditional outfits hold hands between dances at the annual Festa Confederada, or Confederate Party in Santa Barbara d’Oeste, Brazil. The festival is put on by Brazilian descendants of families who fled from the southern United States to Brazil during Reconstruction, between 1865 and 1875, following the end of the U.S. Civil War. Thousands attend the festival which is held at the American Cemetery, or Cemiterio dos Americanos, where graves of settlers and descendants remain to this day. The festival features traditional Southern-style dancing, music and cuisine. The U.S. settlers eventually assimilated with local Brazilians and some now are racially mixed while many others no longer speak English. Organizers say the festival represents familial tradition, ancestral heritage and happiness and is not associated with the negative connotations of the Confederacy. The flag carries no stigma or #political meaning in Brazil, April 24, 2016.

Given the power of the symbol (and the depth of the stigma), the photo reminds us of something important: America is just one country. I’m sure Mario, mindful of U.S. exceptionalism, appreciated the “Instagram content value” right away. I don’t mind admitting, the American that I am, I’d never seen or heard of the Festa Confederada before.

(photo/repost@mario_tama @gettyimages via Instagram.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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