I was in a beach store in Florida in December the last time I saw confederate merch. It was the kind of place full of polished shells and mugs that looked like sunburned bodies, and I was trying to talk myself out of buying overpriced tchotchkes for Kick. Turned the corner and BAM, a bunch of beer coozies with the stars and bars. Like they were just another souvenir.
It felt like a slap, after the past couple of years we’ve had, and I’m whiter than a very white thing. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a family out to the county fair for a good time, only to be confronted with something that basically says, “My aesthetic is that I like owning people.”
Last summer, I contacted officials at the Essex County Fair about their vendor policy and got hung up on. The policy on their website makes no mention of offensive merchandise — same with the Franklin County Fair site. The Saratoga County vendor handbook refers to “offensive writing/pictures/graphics” in a list of prohibited products.
Letitia James said, “Confederate flags are a tribute to a dark, hateful and painful past and have no place in our society beyond the history books. State-funded fairs and events should not be peddlers and profiters of this, or any other hateful paraphernalia.”
I’d love to see the fairs adopt a clear statement of principle like that, or like this: “Racist products are banned at the fair.” That wasn’t hard. Why are some people making it hard?