Thursday, April 09, 2009

Old times there are not forgotten...



One of the things that do to drive traffic to my blog is to leave comments on other blogs. Now, I don't comment on every blog that I come across. First of all, most of the blogs that I find using the "next blog" button are not written in English. And as you may have learned in this post, English is my go-to language. Second, I have to feel like the blog is interesting and that I have something meaningful and sincere to contribute. I don't just go around writing "neat blog" on every page, because I think that would be annoying. I've also found some really cool blogs that way, ones that I have become a regular reader of.

So one day I was doing this and I came across this blog of a white woman in her early to mid-20's. It seemed to be a blog about her life and the daily goings on in it. I happened to look at her bio and I noticed that one of the first things it said was, "I'm a proud Southern woman."

As soon as I read that, I felt this tightness in my chest. I thought to myself, 'What does that mean? Should I even comment on this blog, or just hit "next blog" again?' I actually did the next blog thing once when I found this site that was all about this small town in the "Deep South." And all the followers were white, so I was like, "I'm gonna just move along..."

Now, I know that people can say that they mean they're proud of the women being friendly, and the men being gentlemen--the South defiinitely has a reputation for being one of the more traditional parts of the country. They also have sweet tea, which I think we all can agree is quite tasty.

But, the South also has another reputation that isn't exactly something to be proud of. Even if we're not talking about the whole slavery situation, a couple hundred years ago the people who lived in the Southern United States tried to remove themselves from the Union. To me, this is an act of treason. This is a big part of why I didn't put a confederate flag as the picture for today's post, because I don't think there's a lot of honor in that symbol, and I don't want an image like that on my blog.

I remember I would be in school, and we would have yearly discussion about racism and invariably some white kid would say, "Well, racism is really bad in The South. "Dun dun dun...like it was just some ghastly place. And I would think to myself, "Oh white person, racism exists everywhere--not just there."

That being said, I've never been to the South. Well, I've been to Disneyworld, but I don't really think that counts.

I've never been there and I have no real desire to go there, because I have to say--I haven't heard a lot of good things about it. I have this impression that if I was there for any extended period of time, I would have to deal with some BS that I am just not that interested in dealing with. And I have to say that I've gotten this impression from my white friends who haved lived there over the years.

So, why am I writing all of this? I'm not writing it to piss Southerners off. I would actually really love it if some of my Southern readers would leave some comments about what the phrase "I'm a proud Southerner" means to them, and what they think it means to the people around them. For some people, is it just code for, "I'm a racist"? Or am I completely misunderstanding the whole thing? I mean I watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta and white and black people seemed to get along fine on that show. My Southern readers, how do you feel after reading some of my thoughts about your region of the country?

If you're not from the South, what does the phrase "I'm a proud Southerner" mean to you? What comes to mind when you think of The South?

I actually did end up leaving a comment on that woman's blog, and nothing horrible happened. So that's got to be worth something, right?

Let me know what you think.

10 comments:

  1. Both of my parents grew up in the South pre-segregation, and as a result have the tendency to spew down right embarassing stuff that, on the surface, sounds racist, when I know they really aren't. My dad drops the N word now and then, only at home, never in open company and turns grumpy old man on you if you ask him to stop. My mom feels the need to commment on everyone's race, any race, whether it's relevant to the converstaion or not. But I also know they don't think they're superior to minorities too. I've come to realize that it was just engrained in their generation, growing up in that culture and they just don't recognize how damaging it is. But it was never something that was passed on to my brother or me.

    I often comment that I am proud of my Southern up brining (even though I grew up in New Mexico) and all that means to me is the day to day values, helping neighboors, wonderful fried food after church on Sundays, manners, and community. A certain simplicity and contentment that's hard to put into words. I don't for a second realte with the dark stain on history in that part of the country. It makes me sick that at schools like Ol' Miss they still, as a whole chant racist comments when a black player has the ball. That part of the South is just embarassing to me. All of my friends who still live there agree.

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  2. Anonymous2:45 PM

    I love being from south of the mason dixon line and to me that means proud of my heritage, just the same way my fiance is proud to be an original Colorado settler descendant. (Sidenote, Auraria, founded before Denver was done so by a man from Georgia) To me being proud to be from the South is that I have a whole different set of manners and lifestyle. I always write thank you notes, am always polite no matter what I truly think and make some killer sweet tea. Those aside, I'm proud that I can stand out in a crowd because of my attitude and the confidence that I was raised with. I'm proud of how far my region has come, while there is still a ways to go, parts of the country have it much worse, they just won't admit it. Plus I love the weather and the spirit and the pride that comes with being from that region.

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  3. Back in the 1970's when I drove with some friends to Florida from Michigan for a vacation, we would stop along the way at restaurants, gas stations, etc., and I remember so clearly how shocked I was to be treated NICELY by black people! I certainly was not treated nicely by those in Michigan (the North!) My grandparents were from the South and they were kind, mannerly, independent, and always gracious to everyone. That is how I think of the South.

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  4. Anonymous6:36 AM

    You mentioned your chest tightened when the woman mentioned she was a proud Southern woman. Did it tighten because of the Union thing, or the preconceived notion you have of Southerners as being racist? Isn't that the same feeling some white women get when, say, they get on an elevator with a black man?

    If you've enver been there, why did your chest tighten?

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  5. Anonymous9:53 AM

    neat blog

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  6. Good morning,

    I grew up in Chicago, moved to Texas and now live in Virginia; so I think it's OK to discuss the Old South.

    I discovered how easy it was for mobs to take pride in the lynching of Black men. In Texas I visited a place where a Black man hung from a tree (before I lived). In Virginia (and Texas) they celebrate Confederate heroes, celebrate a war they lost and display a flag that gives honor to those who championed the cause of Black Slavery.

    While most people prefer discussing and selling books and artifacts on the positive aspects of the (White) South, you won't find many books (if any at all) in those establishments on Human Rights Violations, the evils of Slavery and the resulting attitudes of debasing humans of a different color.

    It both easy and convenient to forget facts when a culture, history and geneology have been erased.

    In spite of those things, I have come to enjoy living in this part of the country. I'm sure there are still areas of the South where my pigmentation wouldn't be welcome and I wouldn't want to go. But in the South, I've discovered that what you see is what you get. That distinction was not always the case growing up in Chicago around Whites.

    This was an interesting post and quite thought provoking. I'm glad I followed the link from Reggie Girl's Blog.

    U

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  7. Anonymous3:17 PM

    I had a friend who was from Georgia (and, yes, she happened to be black). She was actually moving from Colorado back to Georgia, because she said at least the racism in Georgia was blatant there and she knew where she stood. She said in Colorado it was all under the radar, and you never knew if someone was smiling to your face and thinking horrible thoughts in their head, or if you didn't get that job because of your race even though the guy shook your hand and told you you were wonderful and you'd hear from him and he looked you in the eyes.

    My mom is a Southerner from Oklahoma, so heading a bit North there. Our experience is both similar and different to another Southerner's, though, because we come from a Native aspect. However, I think even with that experience, what I think of, thanks to my mom and grandparents, when someone says proud to be a Southerner, (boy, this is a run-on sentence from Hades) is things mentioned in comments above, such as the manners, the rich culture and belief systems. When we have a gathering with the primarily Southern portion of our family, it is loud, there is great food and great family, and that is very much what I picture when I think of Southern pride. Does it mean proud of past slavery? I should hope not, and severely doubt it for the vast majority. I'm not actually Southern, though. I was originally a California girl, myself, so I can't claim to know what they're talking about. I can just say what I see from my basic roots.

    I say I'm proud to be Cherokee, yet when I did research I discovered the Cherokee were briefly slave owners before the Trail of Tears. I am still proud to be Cherokee, BUT I learned just like anyone else who really looks into their cultural history, that we also have things to be ashamed of. So, while I'm proud of the overall package, I'm certainly not proud of the fact that my people tried to fit in to maintain a life in their home, and in doing that, they took in slaves. Not to mention, warring between the tribes and captives/slaves taken in before the white man came along to complicate things. ;) One can be proud of their culture/past, even when there are blemishes, as long as they acknowledge those blemishes and are honest with themselves about the entire package. Every single culture has its historical and/or current blemishes.

    Shannon

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  8. This is a late comment but, since you left a comment on my blog (perhaps in the interest of self-promotion ;-)), I thought that I'd come by and see your site.

    The reason I describe myself as "southern" in my profile (and, no, I'm not the blogger myblackfriendsays originally referred to in this post) is because it's a part of who I am: born and raised in a southern family, both in locale and in culture.

    Culturally, to me, that means I have a soft spot for homemade biscuits and sweet tea. That nearly everything tastes better with a good dose of butter and/or cream. That I say y'all rather frequently, wear my pearls on Sunday and makeup to the gym, and raise an eyebrow when thank you notes aren't sent timely.

    Although I'm quite educated/aware of "The South"s historical significance, it really means little in my day-to-day life, either how I live or how I see myself.

    I like your site's intent. Good luck with creating and exploring the dialogue relating to race and inequality.

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  9. The ever-tiresome "Im a proud Southern woman" means they are incredibly insecure and derive their identity from clinging to tbe belief that all things southwrn are superior, "Yankee" women arent true women, and hating the North, even though most have never even been there. Pathetic.

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  10. The ever-tiresome "Im a proud Southern woman" means they are incredibly insecure and derive their identity from clinging to tbe belief that all things southwrn are superior, "Yankee" women arent true women, and hating the North, even though most have never even been there. Pathetic.

    ReplyDelete