It’s no secret I’m Southern. I’ve been pretty clear about that in my posts. I’m not a transplant, I’m not a part-timer, I’m not a newbie. I was born in Alabama and moved to Georgia. Doesn’t get much more solidly southern than that – except maybe for my lovelies who live their entire lives in the Mississippi Delta. (Kisses, y’all!)
We often get a bad rap down here – and I’m not one to shy away from hard truths – we often deserve it. A history filled with extreme racial inequality that is still very evident today does not endear us to the greater populace of the world. That’s fine… we had it coming. Just this week there is a controversy blowing up about my home state and voter suppression in the form of closing down drivers’ license offices in all the predominantly non-white counties. It’s despicable.
But I’m not your typical Southerner – and this is not MY South. My family had quite a bit of inherent racism. It was there, but they didn’t do a very good job of indoctrinating me when I was little. I wasn’t really even aware of it until later in my life – when I was old enough to already be making my own decisions.
… Or maybe I’m just built differently.
I often wonder if there are factors outside of our control which determine our predilection to certain thoughts or opinions. But that’s a subject to be debated by greater minds than mine. All I know is that this dark history of hatred, violence, retaliation, separation… that’s not my heritage.
My South is bare feet in wet grass at sunrise on a spring day. it’s snapping peas into a beat-up old metal pot while leaning against the porch post.
My South is the hum of cicadas at dusk, filling your ears until the sound seeps into your soul and suddenly it feels like home. It’s the sweet smell of honeysuckles on the breeze, wrapping around you like a blanket… and the sticky fingers that follow shortly thereafter.
My South is using ma’am and sir, and respecting your elders. It’s watching the sun set and sipping on a whiskey.
My South is hot, buttery cornbread, baked golden brown in a heavy, black-iron skillet that’s older than you are. It’s a pot of peanuts slowly simmering on the stove and fried chicken popping in hot grease.
My South is a creaky porch swing on a warm night, laying on top of a hay bale staring at the never-ending stars, camping beside a swift creek, tadpoles and frozen toes, an ice cold coke in a mason jar. It’s the perfectly-made red velvet cake, deviled eggs, the county fair, picnics in the park, and family dogs made lazy by the heat.
Every person makes a choice every day of their lives. Who they’re going to be, what they’re going to stand for, how they’re going to live… And for me? I reject hate, ugliness, and division. I choose love, beauty, and unity. And I’ll keep fighting every single day…
Because that’s MY South.