According to TMZ.com, members of Michael Jackson's family fear that his daughter is dating a racist because of her boyfriend's PANTERA tattoo featuring the Confederate flag.
Michael Snoddy, the 26-year-old drummer with the band STREET DRUM CORPS, reportedly met the 18-year-old Paris Jackson at Alcoholics Anonymous. Both of them are said to be newly sober and have been dating only for the past few weeks.
Snoddy, who has posted a number of pictures on Instagram of himself wearing merchandise featuring the Confederate flag, was in attendance at this year's "Dimebash" event in Los Angeles where former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo made a Nazi-style salute and appeared to say "white power" as he made the gesture. Snoddy later wrote that he "had such a blast paying tribute to my all-time favorite guitarist," referring to late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was honored at the concert.
TMZ.com spoke with Snoddy, who scoffed at the accusations of racism. He said: "I wouldn't be dating a black girl if I were a racist."
Snoddy's tattoo features the Confederate flag — also known as the rebel flag — along with the letters "CFH", which is the acronym for "Cowboys From Hell", the name of PANTERA's major-label debut.
The Confederate flag's symbolism was the subject of an emotional debate in the South in the aftermath of the massacre of nine blacks by a white gunman in a Charleston, South Carolina church last year.
White supremacist and suspected killer Dylann Roof had been pictured holding the Confederate flag before he allegedly carried out the murders.
While some people see the flag as a divisive symbol of the South's proslavery legacy, supporters insist the flag is a honorable symbol of regional pride, a mark of respect for Southern soldiers who died in the American Civil War.
Anselmo admitted last year that he was thinking twice about his past associations with the rebel flag. "It'd be like, Would we be flying the Nazi flag?" he told HardrockHaven.net. "I don't think so, because flags are looked at whether it be nationalism or symbols of something. Truthfully, it's like...I wish fucking everyone would get along."
He went on to explain that the reason he and his former bandmates might have used the Confederate flag in the first place was "our love of bands like LYNYRD SKYNYRD." But he also admitted that "there was never a time when it was okay to promote hate." He added: "It was never this blatant thing unless I was completely out of my mind, which I was at points in time."
"These days, I wouldn't want anything to fucking do with it because truthfully...I wouldn't," he said. "The way I feel and the group of people I've had to work with my whole life, you see a Confederate flag out there that says 'Heritage, not hate.' I'm not so sure I'm buying into that."
Philip's former bandmate, ex-PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, said that the controversy over the Confederate flag was merely a "knee-jerk reaction to something that happened" and it encroached on people's freedom-of-expression rights. He said: "This country was built on freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and when you can no longer do that, then it is no longer based on that, you know. It's a touchy thing, you know, and that's really all I'm going to say about it. I just think that it doesn't follow what the country was built on [and] what it was based on. To me, that blows, but that's how it, is man."