Oh, Clay Travis: On Lochte, Confederate Symbols, and Racism in the Modern Day South

Living in Middle Tennessee, not far from the Alabama line, I’m surrounded by racism. And usually these “I’m not racist!” racist believe that racism means that you participate in hanging black folks from trees or you think that all black individuals should still be riding at the back of the bus. But that’s not all racism is. Racism isn’t strictly the hatred of black people on-site based solely on skin color.  That’s not the majority of modern day racism, and it certainty isn’t what societal bias means. It means exactly what we’ve seen in Rio. Gabby Douglas is ripped to shreds for not placing her hand over her heart or styling her hair, but Ryan Lochte can piss all over the damn place, internationally lie about it, and still come out to some — the white dude-bros — looking like the victim. As one who enthusiastically defended Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, it’s long since aggravated me — particularly since the controversy of the Confederate flag has been reignited — to see these “country boys” riding through town with Confederate flags flying off the back of their pickup truck and yelling shit like, “Roll Tide!” 

Have you looked at the football field recently, SEC fans?  Generally the only white boys out there other than the O-line are, maybe in the days gone by,  the quarterback and special teams. And that’s changing. Even LSU had a black kicker.

To reiterate, rednecks:  NOT a lot of white boys out there playing ball.

I constantly demand of these official team slavery apologists, that if you want to subscribe to the clothed emblem of those who went to war to continue owning the ancestors of the athletes that are winning championships for you,  if want to continue flying the flag that was always used at every turn to keep those athletes’ ancestors oppressed, then you better stay true to its meaning and find yourself another sport. I’d suggest, maybe, golf or hockey.  Whatever the fuck white people play. Because you cannot continue to cheerlead the Confederate flag and then subscribe to the belief that black people are as equal to you — make that, superior to you — when they are running your football or rapping your damn lyrics.

That flag is not now, nor has it ever been, one that ever represented the Confederacy as a whole. It wasn’t the Stars and Stripes, so to speak, of the Confederacy. It was the battle flag of Northern Virginia. It’s one that began, subsequently, to have a well understood racial undertone.

First used to protest the integration of the troops under Harry Truman, and then later as pushback against desegregation, there’s a reason that white racists, the KKK, and those that the alt-right have claimed “hijacked their flag” continue to use that one — because that’s what it’s always stood for. If you want to waive a historically accurate Confederate flag, you should try the one that flew over South Carolina. There are a couple choices.   Because the one that you have flying off of your pickup truck while yelling  “Go Big Orange!” is and always has been a hate symbol.

Some of us didn’t get our “history lesson” off the back of a Spring Break Sale t-shirt at Alvin’s Island in Panama City Beach. Some of us went to these things they call “books.”

You know, they’re those hardbacked oblong things you proud Confederate flag wavers are using as a coaster.

Even if there was some history in the Confederate flag — besides the history of rape, slavery, torture, murder — to be proud of, a recent CNN poll showed that close to 75% of African Americans polled found that flag offensive. So when you know that and you still choose to display it, what you’re saying is, as a white person, my feelings mean more than yours, black people.

The unspoken part in that is — because I’m white. There by,  superior.

So to do that, proudly display that flag as a fuck-you to its removal, and then yell “Roll Tide!” while the tide is rolling off the backs of black men, is about the most sickening kind of hypocrisy imaginable.

It’s not ‘covering up history’ to acknowledge that.  There’s a difference in saying, “Andrew Jackson, you never existed!” and saying,” Andrew Jackson, I appreciate your contributions to this country, but I no longer feel the need to look at your bigoted face every time I want to pay the pizza man because of the atrocious acts of racially motivated violence you perpetuated.”

Lets be real:  There are families out there that have family secrets sicker than some. A child molesting cousin, a kid-raping brother, a grandfather who used to beat grandma senseless.  They  generally don’t wallpaper their living rooms for decades with those god-awful ancestors and then sit around and say, “Well, you know,  that’s just our history.”

They don’t ask the descendants of children molested by incestuous Uncle to just accept that… well, you know that’s our “history.”  We wouldn’t want to cover it up, so let’s just leave his face out here on the wall for the whole world to see.

So it’s a bit ridiculous to continue to do so as a nation.

It doesn’t “cover up” history to acknowledge that we no longer want to look at the members of it that committed the most vile and disturbing acts — and committed them on the biggest scale.  Because when we look at the Confederate or “southern” members that we, as a society,  continue to honor, it’s always the sickest and most heinous one.  And that’s because there’s a reason for that.  It’s called generations of racist white people.

On Clay and his disturbing defense of Lochte

I have a love-hate relationship with Clay Travis. Particularly that I love to hate him. As someone who began listening to 3HL here in Nashville after its inception, especially since the midday programming was perfect for me, Travis has been on my radar for years.  The love/hate part comes in in that, man,  he’s just such an asshole it makes it really hard to love him — especially as a feminist. But at the same time, he’s such an asshole it makes it really hard to hate him.  When his particular brand of assholery is thrust upon Alabama fans, dude, it’s just glorious!

There are also things I adore about Mr. Travis. His wit.  His humor. Clay appears to be extremely open-minded, certainly Constitution oriented,  and free speech motivated.  The kind of person that will defend what you say — or your right to say it — even if you’re a dumbass for saying it. And I appreciate that.

There seems to be a catch to his cheerful legal-defense-for all, though.  It ceases if you’re a black guy.

Now,  it’s no secret that I am a Civil Rights studying, African American literature loving, Martin Luther King Jr worshipping, student of the 1960s. I idolize Nelson Mandela, can’t stomach movie scenes regarding slavery, and real-life unfriended almost everyone I have ever known over their irrational hatred of Barack Obama. I’m motivated by equality, I can’t stand the Confederate flag, and I think white privilege simply means I get the benefit of the doubt while people of color, generally, don’t.  So perhaps I’ve witnessed Clay Travis through biased ears. However, it seems painfully obvious that it’s a bit problematic for Mr. Travis to enthusiastically defend athletes of color from misbehavior, stupidity, or “gate” termed shenanigans.

I resent that.

I don’t think that Mr. Travis is necessarily racist by any stretch of the imagination, just that he is simply ingrained with the same unconscious bias a lot of Southern men are.  Where they see black men as a problem before they see them as a person. And I’ve never been more confident of that than I am with his gleeful approach to advocating for Ryan Lochte while everybody else in the world seems to think he’s a global embarrassment of a dick bag.

Well… everybody but the white dude-bros, that is.

The same ones counting down the days until SEC football season arrives so they can watch black men dominating on the gridiron, while simultaneously waiting for kids of color from your team to get accused of a crime so they can instantaneously hop on social media and call them a “thug.”

That, my football loving friends, is how racism exposes itself here in the modern-day South.

Candice Mathis

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Candi is a lifelong reader, writer, Democrat, and kid keeper. She lives in Middle Tennessee and rants electronically coast to coast.

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2 thoughts on “Oh, Clay Travis: On Lochte, Confederate Symbols, and Racism in the Modern Day South

  1. Free advice, you should probably stick to ur racist rants instead of going after Clay Travis.

    You failed to make a single coherent thought it that entire ramble you called a blog post.

    Lochte lost millions, may never be allowed to swim again and somehow is gaining white privilege? Every single day more and more facts are coming out about how those four swimmers were straight up robbed and then one was extorted for over $10,000(they asked for a lot more) and somehow that is privilege?

    Instead of just blindly hating white people, try and work with the facts a little then make ur decision. Doing it the other way makes you look ridiculous with the is little blog you have heard.

  2. You took the time to comment on something that only has ten readers? Wow.

    Who’s the loser?

    I feel too sad for you to even respond with a real comment. But you come back now, ya hear?

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