When I was a kid – 14 or 15 maybe, early 1980s – I went through a phase of tying bandanas to my belt loops. I had a collection of 20 or so – white, black, red, green – one I bought at a Go-Go’s concert.

whiteflagI didn’t have enough design sense to match the color to whatever else I was wearing, I just picked one each day. I was incredulous when a ninth grade classmate told me that gang members wore bandanas of different colors to identify themselves as Bloods or Crips. I was a little sheltered and had no idea what that classmate was on about. Until about five years later when the movie Colors came out.

And, at one point I had one with the confederate battle flag. Which I may have packed when I visited grandparents in Washington, DC, or I may have purchased it there. Of all places. Yes, I’d studied the Civil War, and had a vague idea what it symbolized. My grandmother, who spoke volumes with very few words, asked if I knew what it represented. Like one of those monks in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, I was enlightened. Not so much enlightened, but in that moment I recognised DC as being The South and that wearing such a symbol placed me on the wrong side of many things. I nodded, but probably waited until she’d walked away to remove it.