May 27, 2013

Southern Misconceptions

Blake Shelton:  Boys 'Round Here

A friend of mine posted an article in regard to this video and poked fun at the idea that a Southern boy could promote positive race relations and kill off old misconceptions.  Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend that certain hate groups are not still alive and well down here, or that there are folks who still haven't "woken up"...but it's not as bad as most people would believe.  I'm excited about the current fad of country music and Southern rock, people are seeing that even a Redneck is simply a hard working individual loaded with family and community pride.

There are several common ideas that float around in regard to Southerners and country folks that are quite off base.  I'd like to roll through a few and set the record a bit straighter.

No. 1     All white Southerners are either descended from slave owners or are prejudiced against African-Americans.
Bust:     Only the most wealthy families could afford such a thing, the majority of Southern families were sharecroppers who worked for their homes and food in the fields.  Acadien (Cajun) people were considered white trash upon their arrival to Louisiana, they were poor immigrants who had to make their way just as European criminals had to do in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.  These days, the great grand children (folks my age) are more aware of exactly who are their families are:  Native Americans (exploited), African Americans (oppressed), Acadiens (cast out), along with English/Irish criminals dumped on the Florida/Georgia coastline.  All we can do is acknowledge what our ancestors did was wrong, and try to build a future, we are not our great-grandparents.

No. 2     All Southerners are stupid/uneducated/ignorant/backwards.
Bust:     Simple does not equal ignorant.  It takes all kinds to make up a balanced world.  That seemingly ignorant, backwoods country boy may not be able to do calculus on command, but what he can do is run yo-yo's and trot lines all night to catch a mess of fish large enough to feed a family of 10.  He can bait, track and skin an animal and use every piece of it, wasting nothing.  He will work from sunup to sundown without complaint and find peace in a cold beer or in working a piece of wood.  That "simple" woman in that kitchen that has children with ease can treat any wound, rash or bite right there in her kitchen.  She can stretch two weeks worth of groceries for a month, balance that household checkbook, and shoot to kill her own food or a menace in her yard.  For every company owner the world has, we need 2 labourers, without the labourers there is no one to (literally) build the companies.  There is a deep rooted respect for every construction worker, roofer, mechanic, farmer and nurse or midwife in the country community.  LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M turn out some of the finest graduates the world has ever seen.  Don't let that 4-wheel drive fool ya son, there is likely a degree hanging on that construction office wall.

No. 3     Country schools produce substandard educations therefore more people living on the system.
Bust:     My school had just over 300 students in the entire thing, Kindergarten to 12th grade.  Our school has turned out RN's, Real Estate agents, teachers, lawyers, career military members, oilfield personnel, security guards, secretary's and administrative name it.  Many of them have these careers as well as family's.  Small schools allow for closer student/teacher relations and result in students having a better grasp of the material.  There are fewer discipline issues because the schools encompass small, tight knit communities.  It's hard to get away with things when the Principal knows your grandmother's phone number.

Don't take our simplicity and our Southern kindness for weakness.  There is a togetherness and a diversity here the likes which the rest of the world has never seen.  Haunted plantations homes, fields of cotton, rice and sugar cane.  Writers, singers, politicians, actors, and scholars.  Catahoula cur dogs, blue tick hounds, calico and tabby cats....  German, Scot-Irish, Cherokee, Creek, African, Haitian, French, Spanish, Scandinavian.  From the flat lands to the islands to the mountains, there are rich, poor, middle class, country, city and suburban people who live and work together every day.  We accept our differences and we use them to produce brilliant, open-minded children, superior crops, community pride and an Earth bound way of life.

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