Friday, July 17, 2009

Southern heritage

This week I've been celebrating my Southern roots (my mom's side) by posting humorous Southern phrases as my Facebook status.

I've never lived in the American South, and have visited only as far east as Tyler, Texas. But my mother carried her North Carolina accent and mannerisms with her throughout her life, even after living nearly fifty years in accent-neutral Arizona.

Now that I live in the upper Midwest, I especially appreciate the charm and grace of my friends who hail from the states below the Mason-Dixon line. Also, I'm grateful there's a Cracker Barrel close by for when I need a fried okra fix.

Three summers ago, Mom died suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly at age 74. Our relationship was stormy and complex, difficult on both sides. But I always respected the strong stand she took against a certain unsavory thing the South is known for: racism.

Mom grew up Southern Baptist, but converted to Catholicism at 18. She explained that decision by telling us kids how she noticed that the Catholic church was the only one with both black and white congregants — every other church in her town was segregated.

As I was thinking about this post, I discovered the work of slam poet Jason Carney. Carney is a former skinhead from Texas, and speaks eloquently about the mixed bag that is a Southern heritage.

Warning: if you have small children nearby or will be offended by a stray f-bomb, you may want to mute your speakers from :10 to :12.



  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. I just read back through some of your posts. I loved the one on apology - working on that with my children and am so frustrated at the lack of sincerity there. I think I will come back to that post from time to time! Funny that you posted about the song He Knows My Name. I cry whenever we sing that in church. We sang that right after my daughter had her major seizure and I felt like God was still holding me in the palm of His hand because of that song.

  2. Ignorance reins in Florida too... sadly, we don't have much of a heritage down there.

    As I've tried to describe to my MI friends, in Florida it isn't about black and white... so much as it is Hatian against African... Mexican against Guatamalan... color against color... cultural pride.

    I have learned a lot about racism since coming to MI. I have seen it in action... segregation, separation, untrue judgments. I am grateful to work at a place that confronts these ideas, as it is difficult to understand the 'other' perspective without conversation.

    I wish there was more conversation.

  3. Hey Gina! Thanks for your comment.

    I agree -- I wish there were more conversation about the issue. Like you, I was surprised to discover a lot of thinly-veiled racism up here. It saddens me.

    I was hoping this post would spark some conversation.


All comments are moderated by the blog's author prior to publication.