Confederate Flag In Virtual Work Background?

I'll be starting a summer internship at BX/KKR/Carlyle PE this summer. My background may have a Confederate flag and I'm thinking of taking it down to keep things "professional." 

However, it bugs me since doing so is basically acquiescing to what I perceive as the delicate sensibilities of traditional Northeastern Yankee culture. Would an employee's background be considered unprofessional if it represented another piece of their identity like gay pride, for example?

I'm in an enormously privileged position and by willfully shielding my Southern pride, I worry that I'm maintaining an archaic status quo at the expense of less fortunate members of the community rather than normalizing the concept of a more diverse workplace. 

I know I'm overthinking it! It's not like my MD is General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, but I'd love to get a read on where the current culture of Wall Street is at!

Edit: I will be taking it down. Very fascinating contention surrounding this topic though.

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Comments (85)

May 13, 2021 - 9:42pm

Let me ask you a few questions....can you answer these without looking them up:

1. Name the army commanded by Robert E. Lee

2. Name the first major battle of the Civil War

3. Name the year slavery was ended in rebel held territory

4. Name the bloodiest single day battle in the Civil War.

Why do I ask these questions? Well, first of all, how important is this to you and do you actually understand the history? I remember a kid from my high school who had a huge confederate flag on his truck.  I was in history class with the same kid. Teacher asked him which army Robert E. Lee commanded. He didn't have a clue. If you can't answer those basic questions, definitely don't fly it.

Second, you definitely shouldn't fly it regardless. I'm a big Civil War history buff, but I have no interest in flying the flag of the least free nation to ever exist on the North American continent.

Edit: If you're proud of where you come from, why not have your state flag as your background?

Edit 2: Realize now that this a spoof post of another one but regardless, my comment stands.

May 14, 2021 - 7:54am

Almost got it all right except for #3! Answer is 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation after the battle of Gettysburg which freed all slaves in rebel held territories.

Side note: Start noodling around why it's only rebel held territory and why the slaves were freed in 1863 rather than 1861 when the war started and you go down an inconvenient truth rabbit hole about the civil war...

May 13, 2021 - 9:55pm

Yeah its funny you could legit fly a LBGTQ flag in the background, but definitely not a confederate flag.

My alma mater still flies the flag in the Chapel, but some want it taken down.


There is a lot of history behind it though.

Star of the West was an American civilian steamship that was launched in 1852 and scuttled by Confederate forces in 1863. In January 1861, the ship was hired by the government of the United States to transport military supplies and reinforcements to the U.S. military garrison of Fort Sumter. A battery on Morris Island, South Carolina manned by cadets from the South Carolina Military Academy (now The Citadel) fired upon the ship, effectively the first shots fired in the American Civil War.12

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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May 13, 2021 - 10:06pm

Why is everyone is so proud of "southern culture"? What has southern culture been? First owning slaves... then losing the civil war... Then Jim Crow laws, lynchings opposition to civil rights... And continued discrimination against African Americans till even today... What a great culture you all have (Sarcasm)!! Really truly inspiring ;)

Would take down the flag dude... people are gonna look at you sideways.

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May 13, 2021 - 10:48pm

Unless the men are all hamplanets, how do the most obese states also produce hotter women?

I’m a fun guy. Obviously I love the game of basketball. I mean there’s more questions you have to ask me in order for me to tell you about myself. I'm not just gonna give you a whole spill... I mean, I don't even know where you're sitting at
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May 13, 2021 - 10:16pm

1. Best food in the U.S. 

2. Rock n yeah kind of a big deal

3. Blues

4. Jazz

5. Country Music

6. SEC football rivalries

7. New Orleans Mardi Gras

8. Sportsman lifestyle traditions - hunting, fishing, etc

9. Religious backbone of the country

10. Traditionally high percentages of US military participation

Just to name a few....

My question is what has Rhode Island done culturally for the country and the world? Wait wasn't that state based on slavery as well? 

May 13, 2021 - 11:06pm

Highly doubt that Rock n Roll, Jazz, and Blues would've developed as they did if the Confederates won and Blacks would've remained slaves to the White man.

Also, Marti Gras is a Catholic tradition celebrated in French colonized areas. How do you think the highly Protestant southern states would've treated their Catholic minority? 

My point? Those Yankees coming down to spank the shit of the Confederates was the best thing that ever happened to the South lol 

May 13, 2021 - 11:19pm

Well, Rhode Island was actually the state to introduce religious freedom to the US Constitution when it was being written, since it wasn't explicitly mentioned in the First Amendment. It was home to Nathanial Greene, one of the top Revolutionary War commanders. It was the site of the country's first successful water mill (Slater Mill), allowing for the industrial revolution in the Northeast, directly fueling the agricultural Southern economy. 

Brown University is in Providence, and its alumni or faculty have won eight Nobel medals, 25 Pulitzer prizes, and have one appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and four Secretaries of State. Other alumni include Thomas Watson, Jr. (CEO of IBM), Janet Yellen (Fed Chairwoman), and Andrew Yang (#YangGang). RI also has RISD, one of the top design schools in the country and Johnson & Wales, a top culinary arts and hospitality school. 

Newport is home to the famous Newport Mansions, the summer vacation homes of the 19th century industrialists and are incredible examples of Gilded Age architecture, it is also home to the Tennis Hall of Fame and was the site of the first US Open in both tennis and golf. It is also holds the Newport Folk Festival (where Bob Dylan famously "went electric" in '65). 

But sure, hunting and SEC rivalries are really the superior cultural achievements. 

May 14, 2021 - 5:54am

1. Best food in the U.S.  - Better food in NYC, Southern food is good but too deep fried and heavy and unhealthy

2. Rock n Roll - all the best bands are British

3. Blues - sucks

4. Jazz - better in NYC

5. Country Music - sucks

6. SEC football rivalries - fun

7. New Orleans Mardi Gras - fun

8. Sportsman lifestyle traditions - hunting, fishing, etc - overrated as fuck, all the sportsman lifestyle stuff is better out west anyways

9. Religious backbone of the country - RIP

10. Traditionally high percentages of US military participation - because they're poor

May 13, 2021 - 10:38pm

Joking aside, I'm not a Confederate but I acknowledge that the South is the King of Music. Virtually every popular genre you've heard has its roots in the South.

Country is from the South. Rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, and gospel are all from the South, specifically Southern blacks.

Rock and roll is a fusion of rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, and country. Funk and disco is a fusion of R&B, soul and jazz. Rap comes from isolating the percussion breaks of funk and disco. EDM comes from disco. Pop music combines all of this into one big shitshow. Every kind of music today originates from the SOUTH. Us Northerners pale in comparison.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 13, 2021 - 11:59pm

Many of the US' best writers are from the South. Much of our country's music developed in the South. The South has great food. Ppl are a lot more polite than in the North. Great climate and geography w/ four seasons. Tons of history (VA especially). Hunting and fishing. Great golf. You seem arrogant af

May 14, 2021 - 10:27am


Why is everyone is so proud of "southern culture"? What has southern culture been? First owning slaves... then losing the civil war... Then Jim Crow laws, lynchings opposition to civil rights... And continued discrimination against African Americans till even today... What a great culture you all have (Sarcasm)!! Really truly inspiring ;)

Would take down the flag dude... people are gonna look at you sideways.

For most people, slavery/black people are a part of history and not the end of all history. If that were not the case, then nobody could be proud of their heritage since slavery was common nearly everywhere in the world until 5 minutes ago on geological clock.


  • Associate 1 in IB - Restr
May 13, 2021 - 11:32pm

From a pragmatic standpoint, you are going to catch an unbelievable rash of shit that is not even close to worth it - don't do it. 

That said, as a northerner, it's absurd that upper-crust WASPs are mortified at the site of a confederate flag, but they're not lining up to cancel the union jack.  Sure, the Brits engaged in slavery, egregious human rights violations, and genocide across every corner of the globe for several hundred years, but what's associated w/ the confederate flag truly offends them...they can all get fucked. 

May 13, 2021 - 11:57pm

Most people like to blame the "racist South!" but its strange how nobody talks about who the biggest customers were of those slave-owning cotton farms.  It was the  WASP factory owners in the north. 


May 14, 2021 - 12:03am

Not only that but I think the south is a convenient punching bag in modern politics. Makes northerners feel better about themselves. I've lived in the both the north and south. The level of racism is about the same.  Notice where all the main police shootings and riots happened lately.....not the south.

Also, if you want to see some racism, go read the post on here about whether you should live in Harlem.  Bout the most racist crap that I've seen on WSO. But ignore that, just mention some shit about Jim Crow 50 years ago and make yourself think that you're so much better in NYC than those hicks.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 14, 2021 - 12:02am

FYI, the Commonwealth of Virginia contributed more to American independence and early nation-building than any other state

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
May 14, 2021 - 11:04am

Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Mass are the three most important imo. Interestingly, they're all commonwealths (Kentucky is the other one)

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
May 14, 2021 - 2:00am

100% you should take it down. All it takes is one whiny, sensitive little activist taking a screenshot (btw this is NY, there are quite a few) and you'll be getting a call from HR, which is the last thing that you want as an intern. 

The sad reality is, in 2021 everything that was traditional and patriotic is now bigotry. Founding fathers? racist. Supporting police? Racist. Anyone conservative, libertarian or just straight up non-liberal has to hide their true selves in work environments in places like NY and CA. 

And you are right; showing a pride flag, 'Hillary 2016' banner or BLM logo would be totally acceptable, while showing your confederate flag, 'Trump 2020' or Blue Lives Matter logo is going to get you reported and hated. This is BS and I think most liberals are willfully ignorant to the fact that they don't have to hide their true views while conservatives do. 

But just do it. We need more people like you on Wall Street to be sensible. 

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
May 14, 2021 - 4:00am

the confederacy lost the war. Why do you sail the loser's flag, especially when you can sail the winner's? That's what I never understood about you people

May 14, 2021 - 7:44am

the confederacy lost the war. Why do you sail the loser's flag, especially when you can sail the winner's? That's what I never understood about you people

If you get the history, it's not that hard to understand. Consider that 1 in 4 southerners of fighting age died in the war (most of whom were not rich slave owners). That means that just about every family at the time lost someone. Further, the economy was burned to the ground by what in today's standards would constitute war crimes and the whole populace was basically starved for five years. So you get why after the war, people were reluctant to "sail the winner's" flag.

In fact, as a "fuck you" to the situation. Some people continued to show pride in the confederacy.  Pass that attitude to the next generation....which passes it to the next....which passes it to that dumb redneck with a huge truck and confederate flag that just cut you off in traffic.

I'm with you that people should just let it go and stop flying the flag, but just trying to provide some historical context how we got here.

Side note: there were also other factors such as much less immigration to the south post-war. As a percentage of the population, southerners have a much higher likelihood of being directly descended from someone who fought and hence likely died in the war than in the north where waves of immigrants in the late 19th century essentially diluted the collective experience of the war.

  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
May 14, 2021 - 11:04am

I get the historical context. I'm from the south. But I always sail my state's flag, Virginia, instead of the confederate flag. Virginians fought for the south side because they valued Virginian independence from the federal government -- NOT because they dreamed of seceding the US and establishing a new country. 

Maybe there was reluctance in the past, but I'm calling BS on any reluctance to fly an American flag anymore. In fact, many people who fly a Confederate one also fly an American, and virtually all of them would consider themselves something along the lines of a "patriot". 

Yeah I'm on the same page about the "fuck you" part being the main reason people continue to sail the flag. But my main point is that for people trying to say "fuck you" to a winner by sailing the losing flag, their logic is retarded. 

May 14, 2021 - 6:28am

LMAO look at this loser thinking the Starred Cross is the Confederate flag XD Betcha think that it was an even fight, too, or that the Yanks were trampling on your state´s rights. Shouldn´t watch History Channel at midnight so often, Cletus.

May 14, 2021 - 8:20am

Hang a pride flag and a confederate flag next to each other to confuse the fuck out of everyone.

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May 14, 2021 - 8:50am

I was flying a pirate flag outside the crib for a while. Give that a shot see how people react 


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.
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May 14, 2021 - 11:04am

If you want educated people to think you are an asshole, then go for it.  I am not sure why Southern people have to let people know they are proud about being from the South.  No one outside the south is going to give a shit about your pride
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