'What Would You Do?': Man confronts customer wearing jacket with Confederate flag

For some people, the confederate flag represents Southern heritage, but to others it's a symbol of racism or a reminder of slavery and segregation. If caught in this scenario, WWYD?
7:35 | 07/08/20

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Transcript for 'What Would You Do?': Man confronts customer wearing jacket with Confederate flag
Do you mind if I ask why you're wearing that jacket? I'm getting old. I didn't want to get sick. I'm sorry, maybe I wasn't clear enough. Why are you wearing a jacket with that on the back? The civil war ended more than 150 years ago, but today the confederate battle flag continues to divide Americans. White power! The recent protests against racial injustice have catalyzed the discussion of how the country grapples with confederate symbols in society. The U.S. Marine Corps is now banning all depictions of the confederate battle flag. NASCAR is banning the confederate flag. A crowd gathering to watch as the Mississippi flag was lowered for the last time. Mississippi was the last remaining state to feature the confederate battle emblem on its flag. I don't apologize for being emotional. I have lived through some things with this flag. We shot this scenario more than a year ago in two different locations. First, at cotton blues, in hattiesburg, Mississippi. My ancestors died fighting that flag. And then in Brooklyn, new York, at this key food supermarket. For some, the confederate battle flag represents southern heritage. Why do you have that on your jacket? I'm from the south. Born and raised. But for many others, it's a painful reminder of slavery and segregation. You shouldn't be wearing that in public. If you're caught in the middle of this debate -- I'm just honoring my ancestors. "What would you do?" You know that's a symbol of racism and hate, right? Well, it's just my southern pride. This first customer in Brooklyn listens in as Phil tries to justify his jacket. He knows what you're talking about. They don't care. What do you think when you see that symbol? Racism. Oh, I'm not racist. Just trying to show off my southern pride, you know? What are you doing up here in the north? From the next line, this customer cuts in with some words of caution. You have to cover that. Do it, because they can -- somebody can really hurt you. I don't mean anything wrong by it. Where are you from anyway? Mississippi. You in New York right now. Hide that before you never make it back to Mississippi. He seems to be genuinely concerned for Phil's well-being, mindful of what the confederate symbol represents to so many. Really? Dead serious, yeah. I don't mean anything wrong by it. They're talking to you right now, somebody else is going to come and talk to you about that. How are you doing, sir? It's "What would you do?" The TV show. Tell us what you were thinking. Please, just hide that and What might happen if he doesn't? He's wearing a confederate flag. They might want to hurt him. He's in Brooklyn. He's in New York now. He's not in Mississippi. Well, now we're in Mississippi. And this diner is a former new Excuse me. Sir, is that a confederate flag? Yeah. Both customers listen in as our actors make their cases. I was thinking, you know, there's a lot of black folks that might find that symbol a little bit on the offensive side. You know? Well, I'm sorry about that. I mean no offense, yeah. It's just part of my heritage. It's a little jarring to see that in public so blatantly. With the conversation at a stalemate, Phil engages their table. Do y'all think there's anything wrong with -- And he delicately divulges his point of view. I know there's a history behind it and I would prefer not to see it, but also I prefer more people to sort of see what it could represent to other people's eyes. So you think he's right? Well -- I can see where he's coming from. Yeah, definitely. Let's find out more. I personally don't bring out my beliefs because there's a lot more people around here differing. Who might disagree with you. Yeah, I've done my arguing with people, so I'm just like, "I'll keep quiet about it. I'll do my own thing." Back in Brooklyn, this customer is not offended by Phil wearing the jacket. I'm from Puerto Rico, that don't bother me. If you want to wear it, you wear it. Whatever comes after that -- well, it comes. But he disagrees with Phil's interpretation of the confederate battle flag. What message does it send to you, though? We all know that. Well, I don't want to be offensive to anybody for sure, so -- Well, it is. As you can see, it's offensive. And even though this customer agrees -- Do you know what the confederate flag represents? It's all about racism. He doesn't think our actor should get involved. You shouldn't wear something like that in public. Brother, brother, brother. Not today. If not today, then when, man? Never. Time to find out why. Right away, you went like this. Honestly, like, to de-escalate the situation, you know? I'm just trying to, like, not try to have a situation where cops get involved and next thing you know, somebody ends up in jail. Could you understand why it bothered that young African-American young man? To him, I understand. But racism to me is just somebody trying to provoke you. The best way to deal with provocation is to just ignore it. Our actors are back at the restaurant in Mississippi. That's a confederate flag? Yeah. And you think that it's okay to go out with that in public, sir? Well, I'm from the state of Mississippi. I'm just paying homage to my heritage. This customer wastes no time questioning that same heritage. Can you explain what heritage it represents? Phil, ask them, "Where are y'all from?" Where y'all from? Michigan and Oregon. They're not from the south, so you really wouldn't understand. But that doesn't stop these northerners from having an opinion. Doesn't it represent the south seceding from the union and fighting to keep slaves? If it bothers you, you could just look the other way. Wow, wow, wow. I'm not bothering anybody else. You're the one that's being offensive by wearing that I like my flag and I like my jacket. This is my heritage. My family, my state. With Phil unmoved, this Oregon native makes one final attempt to drive the point home. My family's German and I don't wear swastikas around. My family wasn't Nazis, but I don't recognize that as part of my heritage. I can't even believe that you made that comparison. That's where Phil draws the line. You know, my family's not Nazis. And both customers watch as he leaves upset. I don't feel comfortable around this. Well, we don't feel comfortable around you either with that jacket on. I mean, facts are facts. And the civil war was about defending slavery and the states that are part of the civil war committed treason against the United States. So, when you hear people say, "It's my heritage" -- I don't accept that. That's just a dogwhistle for racism, as far as I am concerned. In real life, Phil, our actor, does not condone the public display of confederate symbols. Were you surprised, Phil, that they stood up to you? No, considering where they are from, cause it's more prevalent down here. You know, you see it often. Down south, I do understand it's tough for people to actually have these conversations. And for someone to just say, "You know what, I'm just gonna do the right thing for the right reason," it just -- it's gold.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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