Sarai Cox: Response to the ‘white trash and racist’ label
June 14, 2012
To the Editor:
To the Berkeley educated woman who confronted and labeled my boyfriend “White Trash and Racist” for having a Gadsden Snake tattoo:
A history lesson – Christopher Gadsden was a statesman and patriot. He was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congress, a prisoner of war and voted for ratification of the United States Constitution. The Gadsden Flag was the first flag carried into battle by the U.S. Marine Corps and was actively used to protest British oppression throughout the Revolutionary War. That’s right – the Revolutionary War. The Gadsden snake also ties back to Benjamin Franklin, the originator of all things cool. Yes, today it has been reclaimed by the Tea Party Movement which, unfortunately, seems very confused about the idea of liberty and the tenets of small government as they motor around on Medicare-funded Rascal Scooters… but I digress.
A little background on said boyfriend and our family: We are not white trash. We are not racist. He works for an established, reputable local company and is well-known throughout this community as being a kind and caring person. I am an executive recruiter, a web designer and new to this mountain town. He’s an artist. I’m a writer. We both have tattoos. We’ve both left the boundaries of the United States of America. We have in-depth dinner table discussions regarding antimatter and are both huge Sci-Fi fans. We’re both college educated, thought not Berkeley educated. We’re trying to raise mindful, kind children (though this proves to be more challenging than expected). Our kids don’t watch television. I am a raging, bleeding heart liberal. He is a conservative traditionalist. What can I say? Opposites attract. Our kids drink organic milk and we don’t consume products with high fructose corn syrup in them. We hate GMOs and Monsanto. His father worked for a corporate monster for 40 years, right out of High School. His mother dedicated over a decade to work in the Social Services field. My father retired after 20-plus years in the Marine Corps and is a Desert Storm veteran. My uncle retired a full colonel in the Corps. My brother-in-law is currently enlisted as a linguist and my sister is a full-time Marine wife. We are incredibly proud of our families’ rich history of service and what this symbol represents to us.
A little background on the tattoo: His Gadsden snake is a commentary on liberty and his disgust for the treatment of citizens of the United States. It is not finished; in a few weeks, it will be more than just a “racist looking snake.”
This incident hurt; it hurt too much to just let go without acknowledgement. This is a small town where rumor travels fast and your reputation is all you have. I don’t want our good name disparaged by someone without a full understanding of U.S. History; we are people of character and intend to stay that way. I hope you’ve learned something from this. We sure have.
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