I’ve received several messages from customers regarding IMVU’s decision to ban the confederate flag in our virtual goods catalog. Until recently I held off responding directly to customers, but I think it is appropriate to state my position and why IMVU adopted this policy – with full support of our team.
Considering IMVU’s position on the matter, it might surprise a lot of people that my family is from the South. I grew up eating biscuits with cream gravy, collard greens, grits, chicken-fried steak, hot water cornbread and black-eyed-peas. I wore overalls a lot and mostly went barefoot as a child. We always had a jar of pickled pigs feet in the fridge and I still regularly host a crawfish boil, a pretty much unheard of event in California. I know my relatives and Southern family history quite well. I’d like to be able to say that my family’s heritage consistently represented the best side of what our amazing United States represents, but I can’t honestly say that.
I grew up seeing the confederate flag as just something that exists… no big deal, it’s simply an icon representing a Southern way of life. It was such a benign icon that I never even considered where it came from, what it meant to the United States and the war representing the single largest loss of life for United States citizens (more than all of the wars before Vietnam combined). And while there are many arguments for what caused the war, it’s extremely difficult to not acknowledge that a fundamental reason was the right to enslave other humans. The Cornerstone Speech from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens stated (in opposition to the United States), “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition“. Coming from a Southern family I would like to believe that there is no way that my ancestors (or anybody’s ancestors) could have defended and fought under the confederate flag to support dividing the United States for the fundamental right to enslave people. I’d really like to believe that. Really.
I want IMVU to be as inclusive as possible and accepting of people’s thoughts and beliefs. When thoughts, beliefs or symbols represent that which oppresses or hates so many others, we can’t have an inclusive community. The decisions are not always easy or pleasant to make, but they have to be made in the interest of building a better community.
For all IMVU customers that would like to see the confederate flag remain in the catalog, I thank you for being our customer and I truly appreciate all of the great aspects of Southern heritage and the Southern way of life. I don’t want anybody to change their sense of pride for their great heritage, but I do hope everybody can understand how the icon of a confederate flag represents something very different for a large number of people and works against the overall goal of being inclusive.
Brett G. Durrett