Are credit unions waving the right flag?

Due to recent events, I felt like I needed to share some thoughts on the changes (finally) happening with the Confederate flag (finally). I had written a full, and quite funny, article about social media for credit unions…but I couldn’t hand it in. You’ll see it next month. 

True Story

Growing up in a tiny town in the south in the 1970s was nice. It was warm at Christmas and blazing hot in the summer. The town was ours to roam through on our bikes, stop over at a neighbor’s for some “sun tea” and a Popsicle. It was paradise – until I was 10 and really understood.

After listening to a George Carlin album that I secretly bought, it hit me for some reason: “Wait, this whole town is white.” It was a simple and powerful thought for me at the time and everything started to make sense: the Confederate flag waving in town, displayed on pickup trucks, on jackets, proudly waving from houses and the police and fire stations.

We lived in a town that was 100% white. No joke.

I had a great family, awesome friends….and we were a hugely racist group. I just didn’t realize it. The jokes, the comments, the slang terms – it’s just how we were raised and I was an idiot. But (finally) I was aware of what was really being said and I was uncomfortable. Slowly, I started having tiny discussions with “harmless” questions about the Civil War and of course those eventually turned into full arguments about the god**mned war that ended kind of a long time ago (it’s a touchy subject for some). On more than one Thanksgiving dinner occasion, people would shout in full confidence that “the South will rise again!”

It was a town deeply rooted in the worst atrocities this country has ever been involved with…and it was a flag they waved proudly.

Fortunately, times have changed for the less-racists. Sure, the sign that reads “Jesus Is Lord!” is still the first thing you see when you drive in to town, but the “Stars and Bars” have been gone for some time now and the town has turned into a much more diverse place with the Hispanic and African-American population growing rapidly. Because, you know what? It’s a cool place to live.

Grandparents and now-deceased great-grandparents all eventually agreed that it was a terrible thing to be segregated and had full-blown guilt about it.

So now (finally) our country, our culture and even our politicians are doing something about these bits of racist flag-waving. Wal-Mart, Sears, Amazon, Etsy, eBay and others have pulled the sale of Confederate flags from their stores and sites. Since the awful events in Charleston, there have been marches in South Carolina and demands from their governor to remove the flag. The House speaker of Mississippi says it’s time to remove the Confederate flag portion from their state flag.

I say all of this for a reason – to make sure credit unions out there are paying attention. Is there anything, I mean ANYTHING about your brand that is “old-school” and could be offensive to anyone? Is the language of your marketing and social media posts appropriate and inclusive? Is your employee-base reflective of your community and CU culture? These things add up and if you have any questionable and possibly-racist/offensive ways of doing business, you will be found out and the public will be all over it – as they should.

We are in a time of change that has taken much too long to come. From what I’ve read and followed, it’s safe to say that social media has played a significant role in moving this country into a better spot by ditching that flag.

This isn’t about giving in to public pressure. This is about waving the right flag for everyone.

Michael Ogden

Michael Ogden

Michael has been in the social media business for more than a decade inside the credit union, technology, financial and food industries. He’s the founder of For3, LLC, which ... Web: Details