An expat New Yorker living in Austin. This blog contains high quantities of: roller derby, comics, harry potter, supernatural, doctor who, welcome to night vale, fringe, glee (show and state of being), social justice discussion, and whatever the hell else I feel like putting here.
32, Female, bi/pan, a swingng pendulum between butch and femme, she/her pronouns
Find me on Skype at: dontbearuinerstapler
There is a derby team here in Florida that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’m not the only one that refers to them as “the racist team” or “the confederate team” – and the fact that they’ve completed a season (albeit an extremely short one) without being called out on their logo/jerseys/team name needs to be rectified immediately.
First – let’s talk about the jerseys and the confederate flag.
Photos from Rebel Belle’s website
These are the home (grey) and away (red) jerseys of the Rebel Belles. The grey coloring is a throwback to the grey that the confederate army wore and the striping on the sides is clearly meant to reference the confederate flag rather than the American flag.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, the confederate flag was the official flag used by the South in the Civil War. There are hundreds of books that explore the reasoning behind the Civil War and the South’s secession, and I will wager that the vast majority of them reference the issue of slavery and racism as one of the main causes. White supremacy is not just a small part of the flag’s history either.
“In 1863 Confederates established their new official national flag. Placing the battle flag that ‘was endeared to every Confederate heart’ on a snow-white field to symbolize ‘our extreme purity and innocence,’ it was ‘a suitable emblem of our young confederacy, and, sustained by the brave strong arms of the south’ would soon ‘be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.’ Another writer saw it as ‘the symbol of the white man’s cause.’” (source)
Many people argue that the flag is a symbol of heritage for many Southerners, but this argument completely rules out the feeling of those who were impacted by the Civil War and are still impacted by racial issues today.
“The Confederate flag symbolizes dehumanization, injustice and pain. It is a stark reminder of an era in our history that was defined by the abhorrent practice of slavery. And it is representative of a mentality that looked upon Blacks as inferiors who needed to remain in the shackles of subservience. If you don’t believe me, ask family members of those that were beaten, castrated and lynched under the guise of that Confederate flag.” (source)
One important activity going on in the world today is that white supremacists and Nazis in other countries are currently flying the confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs because they cannot legally fly a swastika. Let that sink in. This is a flag that actual Nazis are using because of what it symbolizes here in America and now all over the world. (source)
Even after reading all of that you may be thinking, “Oh jeez, it’s just a flag and their jerseys might not even be referencing it!” Well, have you seen the logo?
Photo from Rebel Belle’s Facebook Page
Yes, that’s the hat of a confederate soldier and the same type of guns that were used in the civil war to kill those pesky northerners who opposed slavery and wanted to preserve our country. What’s more is that their coach regularly wears a battle cap to bouts.
Photo from Rebel Belle’s Facebook Page
Now, you can easily dismiss the jersey colors = flag argument if you’d like, but when you have the skaters and coaches deliberately wearing symbols of hatred and slavery, you can’t ignore it. Flying the confederate flag has been likened to brandishing a Swastika (source), so wearing battle gear similar to those treasonous soldiers is absolutely unacceptable.
“We should not honor or respect the symbols of any government or soldier who not only fought for ideals directly opposed to the central founding ideals of our country, but were willing to kill those who stood in their way. We don’t fly the flag of traitors.” (source)
Another thing I would like to mention is that this team refers to their fans as “The Grey Army” which is a clear reference to the confederate soldiers, who wore grey. As a fan of this team, you have instantly been labeled as a traitor to our country and our freedom.
And because I think it’s irrelevant at this point, I won’t go into other things like how they only have 5 of their own skaters and borrow enough skilled players to bout and win, they’re an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot (basically, the skaters can’t get along with others), they strictly prohibit their skaters from dancing during bouts, and their attitude and trash talking on the bench is so negative that it frustrated NSOs and referees to exhaustion at a game a few months ago.
“…When an individual or group turns ugly, it is your duty to speak up. Because if you do not, you are quietly cosigning whatever despicable act they have committed.” (source)
This quote is one of the many reasons I’m speaking up about this issue. I don’t believe this team’s attitude has a place in roller derby. The derby community has always strived to be inclusive to all walks of life. Hatred and racism are not welcome. With the recent events of Ferguson putting race in the forefront of people’s minds nationwide, this would be a perfect time for the Rebel Belles to evaluate exactly what they stand for and why they chose their logo, colors, and name.
This is disgusting and gross, and I will be appalled and complaining my to rep if they get a WFTDA apprenticeship/membership.
If I was on a team slated to play them/assigned to NSO or announce a game they were in, I would skip the game in protest.
This is NOT OKAY.
I can’t with people who draw characters as derby players, but draw the gear wrong. There is SO much info out there, and so many photos, diagrams, and descriptions. It’s not hard to find.
"Derby safety gear."
That’s all you need to search.
Please do it, or no matter how awesome your art is, I’m going to wince and not reblog it.
How the fuck do you think “woefully fucking ignorant” could possibly mitigate this obviously racist bullshit, damn.
I get extra sad when racist bulshittery is committed by members of the roller derby community.
But just because you’re a part of a community that prides itself on inclusivity and open-mindedness doesn’t mean that same community can’t fuck up bad.