July 2007 ARCHIVE
Southerners Are the Last Group It’s Okay to Ridicule

I am a Southern Redneck. I am a River Rat who learned to swim in the Catawba River and I am descended from Revolutionary soldiers who turned the tide of the American Revolution. I am descended from Rednecks, River Rats, and Revolutionaries. It is my birthright, my heritage and my upbringing. I am North Carolina bred; a child born in what was once known as the Great Back Country. How lucky can you be?

It is enough to make you rush to the kitchen, grab grandma’s fruitcake and wash it down with a quart of buttermilk.

I arrived at this prideful stand while performing my duties as the unofficial Shuffletown ambassador to the People’s Republic of California. In the past four years, I have come face-to-face with prejudice. This prejudice has become a sport enjoyed by those born outside the South; those who have accepted as truth that all Southern rednecks are dumb as cabbage, rowdy, beer guzzling, white bigots who speak with a speech impediment and marry their cousins. I take particular offense to the last assumption. It is a sport practiced with smugness and arrogance. And I am tired of it.

At dinner parties I have been treated like a quaint human specimen who has a hoop skirt hanging in my closet. A native of Brooklyn once looked at me and said, “I just don’t understand “youse” guys who say, “y’all.”

Because Southerners are good-natured and appreciate a good joke or tale, we have been too long in denial. These are bad tidings, but it is time we spoke of it openly. It is time for us to stand together. It is time for us to set aside our tolerance — time, to educate the less fortunate.

We, the fortunate, have assumed that the days of prejudice are behind us. We have been lulled into this condition by the mass Northern migrations overtaking the South. Due to our natural hospitality, we have tolerated the jokes and assumptions because they are now our neighbors and friends. And, it is very likely, they will never return to their former lives.

As they settle among us, great amounts of understanding will be required. Especially with those seeking refuge from the crazed, over-stressed, smog laden cities of Boston, Los Angeles, and the Mecca of induced insanity, New York City.

The South is America’s pacifier. In American family rooms throughout our nation, media propaganda about the South is fed to us like candy. Many come to think that no matter how bad things are, “well, at least, we were not born in the South.”

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