UPDATE: The event “City Paper Drop Off Day” appears to have been canceled.
Yesterday, I received a rather direct email from a one-time Charlestonian who has since moved to the colder climes of the Northeast. She was upset with our latest cover which featured the stars of the white-trash, South Carolina-based comedy The Girl from Carolina. The reason: the cover drew design inspiration from the Confederate flag. She wrote:
Dear Mr. Haire-
Did CP really just put the confederate flag on the cover of its most recent issue? There is no excuse for that kind of blatant moral misstep, no matter the slight abstraction the illustrator may have intended, and I implore you to hold your publication accountable.
I recently relocated to New England, after calling Charleston my home for over a decade, and South Carolina my home since birth. These days, when I tell folks where I’m from, there is a slight undercurrent of shame in my sharing, as Charleston itself just hosted a despicable act of racist violence, in a time when racial inequality and injustice are coming to a head nationwide, and causing entire communities to live in fear. On any day, putting the confederate flag on the cover of a publication meant to represent, inform and entertain the entire city is a shameful act. In our current political and social climate, however, it is even more inexcusable. Today, decidedly more than on others, I am deeply ashamed of my provenance.
Make no mistake that I am not the only one who has taken notice of and felt disappointment over this cover. Many of us have deep ties to the service industry in Charleston, a community that sticks together and takes action when called upon. It is not unforeseeable that establishments who usually stock your paper would be made aware of this blunder and asked respond appropriately. I ask you, sir, to do what is right and apologize for this error, lest you begin to see your papers returned to your own doorstep.
In response to this moral misstep, I replied:
Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns. I trust that you know what the City Paper’s stance has been on racial matters and more specifically what my stance is on the Confederate flag and racism.
The use of the flag in the fashion that it was used on this week’s cover was to indicate that the characters in this web-based TV series were rednecks. In fact, the Confederacy — specially Jefferson Davis’ tobacco pipe — factor into the series. No offense was meant by using the likeness of the flag. Like I said, it was merely to help indicate that these were white trash rednecks.
Well, since that exchange a Facebook group has apparently formed to right this wrong, and to do that, they plan to confiscate as many copies of this week’s issue and drop it off on the front steps of the CP HQ. Here’s what the folks behind City Paper Drop Off Day have to say:
Hey! Are you tired of being expected to compartmentalize hundreds of years of black oppression? Can you even handle that in 2015 the City Paper is putting an image of the confederate flag on the front page as a splashy design element? Do you see this as flippant disregard for the continuing struggle minorities face every day?
It’s hard for me too. In response to this travesty of design, I suggest that we the people rebel against this imagery and return these rags to the offices from whence they came!
My idea is, wherever you work tomorrow, just grab the papers on your way out and drop them off at the city paper offices at 1049 Morrisson drive so that by Friday morning they have a great big pile of rejected ad-space on their doorstep.
If the folks behind City Paper Drop Off Day are truly interested in ridding Charleston of the Confederate flag, I would suggest they head to the Market, where they’re sure to find a vast assortment of tchotchkes decorated with the Confederate flag. They might even want to head up to the Hunley Museum at the Naval Yard, where you can buy various and sundry Civil War themed items. Heck, if they’re so inclined, they can go to Magnolia Cemetery and pluck every single Confederate flag from the graves of the Confederate dead. And after that, perhaps they can drive up to Columbia — our very state capital — and pull down the Confederate flag that’s right there in front of the Statehouse.
Until then, bless their hearts.