To the Editor:
On Saturday, Nov. 2, the Athens County Fair Board and its members will have an opportunity to adopt the language being used by the Ohio State Fair to ban the display and sale of the Confederate Battle Flag by its vendors, an action that I fully support. My son, who is 9 years old, also supports this motion. He is a 4-H member, and we have had multiple conversations about how the display and sale of the Confederate flag affects people in our community. He has noticed that his friends of color who attend other community festivals and events do not attend the Athens County Fair.
Harper recently wrote this to share with the Fair Board, and he gave me permission to share it with the community:
We don’t want Confederate flags at the fair.
Reason #1: They make black people feel like they were kicked out of a good and fun time!
Reason #2: What would you feel like if this happened to you?
Reason #3: The Confederate flag just represents beating up and killing just because of your skin! That is messed up.
Reason #4: Your black friends would feel TERRIBLE or scared, like my friends.
He really sums it up. I especially appreciate his second point. What WOULD this feel like to you?
Maybe it’s hard to imagine, because you are white and haven’t experienced this? As a white woman, I do not feel particularly threatened by the presence of the Confederate flag, but the truth is that some people do and that’s not OK with me. No one should feel afraid to attend the fair. I have heard first-hand from friends that they refuse to go to the fair because it is a racist event. So, while some see the fair as a family-friendly event, that’s not the case for everyone.
We can do better. If we want the Athens County Fair to truly be a family-friendly community event, the Fair Board should follow the lead of the Ohio State Fair Board and ban the display and sale of Confederate Battle Flag merchandise.
Kerri Shaw (and Harper Riddle)