The Problem With The Confederate Flag

flagThere’s no doubt this will disappoint and infuriate some of my readers, but I feel I would be a coward if I didn’t tell you how I feel about the Confederate flag controversy and why.

First, I’m very much a child of the South, the past five or six generations on one side have been in Arkansas, before that Georgia, Virginia and a boat that sailed from England.  On the other side of the family I’ve got four generations from Arkansas, before that Tennesee then Texas where you can still visit the town of Granger, Texas. I’ve been told it was named by my great great great great grandfather Granger Gertrudio McDaniel.   One of my great great grandfathers and several great great uncles fought in the Civil war…for the South.I say all this so you understand there’s not a single yankee in the wood pile.

Still, I’m so relieved the Confederate flags are  being removed from our state capitol buildings. They don’t belong there because that flag does not represent or honor ALL of the people who live in our beautiful state.

I don’t think the Confederate flag should be banned or burned or hidden but it doesn’t belong on our Capitol or in our schools.

Yes, it is our heritage and it’s your right to fly it at home or wear on a tee-shirt. But my heritage is my history….the past. My present, my right now, my at this moment is different.

Right now I have a lot of very dear friends who I love and they are black.  I love them more than I love that flag. I don’t like thinking what my great great great grandfather was doing 175 years ago and what their great great great grandfather’s might have been doing 175 years ago. It makes me sad and embarrassed. And this country belongs to them just as much as it belongs to me.

If the Confederate flag, that brings so many so much pride causes my dear friends one moment of pain or discomfort….well, their love means more to me than pride. I am not ashamed of my relatives, they were brave, strong, Christian people. they thought they were doing the right thing. But they were wrong.

I still like the General Lee, Lynard Skynard and I know every word to Dixie.

Bottom line, my black friends are more important than that flag. They bring me more joy, they help me, make me better and represent my heart more than the confederate flag. I chose those I love.

And the Confederate flag does not define my past and I have other things to be proud of now. If I want to leave a lasting legacy it won’t be the Confederate flag, it will be my children. Sandor, Alexis, Mary and Jack.  They are my battle flag now, through them I will find a way to make the world a better place and I will carry them forever along with the flag of the United States of America.

(If anyone knows a  literacy agent or publisher  help me out.)

Viewing Black Men as Preditors

The Trayvon Martian tragedy has forced me to think about black men. Or more to the point, how I act and think around younger African American men.

Of course I like to think I’m not at all prejudice, but that’s a lie, every one is. But not everyone admits it or is honest with themselves.

I’m naturally a pretty friendly person. I talk to strangers all the time, I visit with people in the produce isle, I know the bank tellers by name and ask about their kids, hell, I even start conversations at traffic lights.  I visit with just about everybody including  older African Americans just as much as white folks, but I started taking note of my own actions around young black men and those who seem less fortunate.

Guess what? I tensed up around a group of black teens in the mall. At the Dodge Store there were three African American men in their early 20s standing outside the door.  Again, I tensed up. But why?  I’ve never been attacked or assaulted in anyway by a black man. I’ve argued with friends who happened to be black but I’ve never had a confrontational moment with any African American.

So, for the past three days I’ve made a point to be friendly to young black men and those less fortunate.

1. As I walked out of a building three homeless (or so they appeared) black men rode past on old bikes. They looked at me with blank expressions until I smiled and said, “What a great day for a bike ride.” All three men smiled back, one waved and one guy said, ‘Yeah it is!”

I was a friendly lady in a red dress why wouldn’t they smile.

2.In Walmart there was a African American young man, probably 20 in line behind me. He was sagging, had on a white tank top and a lot of hair. I smiled and said, “I like your shoes.”  He was wearing a good looking pair of high top Nikes with orange trim.

He smiled back, nodded and looked at his shoes. Thanks”.

I don’t know what the hell happened in Sanford, Florida and I don’t understand why George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested. But it’s got some of us thinking. Hopefully, that’s a good thing.

**Let me know what you think, comment, e-mail me at hampoland@gmail.comor friend me on facebook.

Piggly Wiggly and the 4th Louella Story

                                                                              In 1968 I was a scrawny little girl, with buck teeth and big ears. But my family had a lovely two story condo on the lake in Hot Springs, AR. We had money.
     My grandmother, Bubba, had an elegant colonial house in town. Louella worked for Bubba, along with another black lady, Iolla, for years and years. But when I was born, my mother’s 3r,d child Louella came to work for us, full time. Thank God.
       Every afternoon when I got off the bus with my Monkees lunch box, Louella was there, waiting and smiling, in her crisp white dress and white hose. Because she was a very dark woman, almost black, the contrast was beautiful to me.
       Loulla always had a peeled apple and a vanilla cupcake on the kitchen counter waiting for me as a snack when I got home. I would eat happily, while she took her lunch and watched Let’s Make a Deal with Bob Barker. Then I would put my head in her lap. She was a large soft woman, and I would take a little nap with my head on her thigh. She had wonderful soft skin, except for her hands and they were like leather and always smelled of bleach. Louella would sa,, “Miss Pooh, I think I’m just your pillow”.

  Years later I realized she was my cushion.

   I was a squirrely, funny looking little girl and didn’t have many friends. But Louella was always there for me and we had a grand time singing and cracking jokes. There were a few jobs Luella really hated, like cleaning the kitty little pan. She would pay me a nickel a week to do that for her.
    When I was six years old I started riding the bus to the Piggly Wiggly with Louella on Wednesday afternoons. Sometimes, if it was raining, she would call a cab. Once in the store, I would happily trot behind her or hold her callused hand, jabbering away. If I behaved she would let me spend my nickel so I could get something from the gumball machine.
   One day I was stunned to find a magnificent shiny new machine that didn’t take nickels. It required a quarter and in return I would get some beautiful jewelry or the biggest bouncy ball I’d ever seen. I asked Louella for a different coin but she said “no”, spending that kind of money on a gum ball machine was wasteful.

    I pouted all the way home and that made her laugh.

    But I had a plan. My 13 year old brother collected coins, all kinds of coins and he kept the in special books. I didn’t have a quarter but I figured I could get one, or something kind of like a quarter, out of one of those books.
   Generally, when Louella vacuumed I went along with her and pushed the vacuum on my hands and knees just for fun but that Monday I waited until Louella was downstairs vacuuming then I snuck into Jack’s room and snatched a coin I was sure would work in the wonderful new gum ball machine.

    Well the plan did not go well. Louella and I went to Piggly Wiggly the next week and the coin, which turned out to be a very rare 100 year old coin, got stuck in the machine, jammed it up. I lost the rare coin, and I did not get my giant bouncy ball. So once again I pouted all the way home.

    Before we opened the front door I could hear my brother, Jack, screaming. “She’s such a little thief Mom. She took that coin and you know it Do you know how much I paid for that? Do you remember how long it took me to find one.”
    Louella looked down at me. I was frozen in fear. “Go on Miss Pooh, open the door.”
   I shook my head.

   “Baby girl, you gotta go on in, might as well open the door”. I knew she was right.
I pushed the door open and could smell the anger in the house. My mother was sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette. She was mad. “Diana Ross McDaniel, get down here.”

   I remember taking tiny little steps. She exhaled and smoke swirled around her head. “Did you steal Jack’s coin?”

   I couldn’t speak. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I started shaking. I had to pea. I heard Louella in the kitchen putting away groceries.

   “Did you?” She yelled.

   Finally, I was able to nod my head.

   “Where is it?”

“At the store?”

   “What store damn it?” she roared

   “I tried to use it in the new gumball machine at Piggly Wiggle.”

   “Oh hells bells, you lost a 30 dollar coin in a God damn gumball machine?”
She yelled at me for what seemed like hours, then stopped suddenly, “Louella go up stairs and get me a brush.”

   “Why?” I said pathetically. “Does my hair need brushing?”

   “Never mind Louella, Pooh, you go get me my brush, right now.”

   “Yes ma’am” I whispered then set off upstairs. I took my time, hoping mom would forget. Jack glared at me then slammed his bed room door.

   When I appeared in the living room again with the tortoise shell brush she said, “Get over here right now, lean over this couch.” Her eyes look hot and black.

   “Momma, can you make Louella come out of the kitchen? Please.”

   “Why?” she barked as she stubbed out her cigarette in a heavy glass ashtray.

   “Cause she won’t let you beat me to death.”
   So poor Louella stood in the living room, tears rolling down her dark cheeks, while I got ten licks with the hair brush. Then she walked me back upstairs and washed my face. My but felt as though it had been scalded. She sat down on the edge of my bed and without saying a word I put my head in her lap. And she stayed there until fell asleep.

*What are you thinking?  Leave a comment and let me know or email to