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Store owner decides to stop selling Confederate flag: It's 'being equated to a symbol used to incite genocide'

Kerry McCoy made a decision to stop selling the Confederate flag in her store. (Photo: Bannerisms/Kerry McCoy)

Upset with the way the the Confederate flag has been adopted by extremists as a part of hate speech, a store owner of almost 45 years made the decision to stop selling the flag.

Kerry McCoy, founder and president of FlagandBanner.com, based in Little Rock, Ark., is a proud Southern woman. And on June 12, she penned a blog post about why she will no longer be selling the flag.

The post outlined three reasons why — the first being that she believes the flag “was being equated to a symbol used to incite genocide.” According to the post, a homeowner in Saskatchewan, Canada hoisted Nazi and Confederate flags outside his home, which ignited racial tensions.

“I realize that it’s not being used in the way our ancestors had wanted to use it,” McCoy tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It has lost its original meaning. The flag’s purpose wasn’t to divide us — it was to unite.”

Her second reason pointed to an incident where a woman hung a Confederate flag in her yard besides a mannequin of what looked like a person of color.

“When I saw that, I was like what is going on!?” McCoy says. “That sent me over the edge — that is not what the flag was designed for.”

McCoy chose to take a “you can’t please all the people all the time” stance after the 2015 South Carolina church shooting, when a 22-year-old man killed nine black parishioners, renewing the discussion about whether the Confederate flag should still fly high, and if it was a symbol of Southern heritage or one of hate. At the time, McCoy decided that “freedom of speech is what makes America great, which includes waving the flag of your choice,” according to the blog post.

However, she now believes that the flag simply isn’t conducive to creating a safe space where everyone feels comfortable, which is what she hopes to do with the charity she founded in 2009, intended to restore the “Dreamland Ballroom,” the African-American meeting hall in her building.

“In 2009, I founded a non-profit, the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, to restore this space to its former glory. Our vision has always been to bring people together and make it a safe place for everyone,” her post explains. “The juxtaposition of trying to create a safe place on the third floor of my building and of selling what has become a hate symbol on the first floor of my building has made me reevaluate my 2015 decision.”

McCoy referenced both the racial and historic interpretations of the flag and concluded that people need to inform themselves better and fully understand both the sides of the argument surrounding the Confederate flag to realize that it’s no longer being used the way it was originally intended.. “We’re all so much more educated today, we have technology at our fingertips to do research,” she explains.

“As a patriot and as a sympathetic Southerner and loyalist to our country, the right thing to do as a citizen is to stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.

McCoy’s change in stance wasn’t well received by everyone. While she confirms that nobody has come to her store and been aggressive or negative following her announcement, people spoke up in the comments section of her blog.

“Your current position is the same as if we were to ban the Bible because there exists idiots who use it for hate. Anyone can use something to represent hate,” commented one person.

“We can’t control who, and for what reason good or evil, uses the Confederate Battle Flag. But that is no reason to sully the heritage of our Southern Patriots. That is exactly what you are doing by refusing to sell the CBF. What is the difference between selling the Bonnie Blue Flag, or the Stars and Bars, or the Confederate Second National?” another added. “I take great offense at you calling yourself a Southern woman, when in actuality you are a sell out. I will buy my CBF, and other flags online and at gun shows, which sell plenty of CBF!”

McCoy added that when she was on a local radio station, someone came over, upset, and was ranting a little bit. She attributes this unhappiness to the idea that people are simply confused because “they think the Confederate flag is the flag of the South when it is not.”

While the store had always sold the Confederate flag, McCoy tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she hadn’t been selling as many lately as she once did.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

• Community furious after neighbors hang Confederate flag, mannequin in yard: ‘It’s a free country, but it's very offensive’

• New Jersey governor bans Mississippi flag from annual tradition due to its Confederate symbol

• School district slams racist incidents after student yells 'white power' at reporter, another wears Confederate flag to school

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