Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meet The New South, Same As The Old South

Sometimes its hard to let go of certain beliefs. The South has always meant different things to different people. But to a lot of people when they imagine someone from the South they see a redneck racist. I'm serious, I have a friend from up North who really believes that most people in the South walk around barefoot and are not very intelligent. But it's a view I've long thought to be outdated. I always thought the South was a lot more tolerant than a lot of people thought.

The North has not exactly been a source of racial free incidents. Going back to school busing we all saw how Boston dealt with that issue. Just recently I listened to a segment on CNN about some high school boys from up North that went out looking for a "beaner" and when they found "one" they killed him.

I was born in the South and have lived pretty much all my life here. I'm proud to be a Southern. I've always felt that we might have our problems with racial issues but that we were in fact more up front about them than some areas. I see more black and whites working side by side. Interracial dating. Even blacks and whites living next door to each other. But I think I've had a pair of rose colored glasses on.

The recent election makes me realize how wrong I may have been. In Louisiana Obama received only 14% of the white vote, in Mississippi he received 11% and Alabama 10%. In other states that have always voted Republican he received a lot more of the white vote than those numbers. In fact he actually received more white votes in some states than Kerry, Gore or even Bill Clinton.

Now I don't see a problem with that if they were voting for McCain strictly because they felt his policies better, but I somehow doubt it. I believe the majority of them voted for McCain because he was white and didn't vote for Obama because he was black.

Since the election I've heard it in the half mutters from others. Anyone that knows me isn't about to say something racist about Obama in front of me, they know how I feel, but you get the thinly veiled objections that are just coded for being racist. And people that don't know me, customers I've overheard, it's terrible. The jokes going around, they play on the fact that Obama is black and are so racist it's not even funny. I heard one man telling one joke to a friend in a crowd that wasn't just not funny, but could have been considered a threat against the newly elected President.

Nationally Obama won 43% of the white vote, 46% of white women and 41% of white men, but in the Deep South the best he could manage was 14%. Why? Are we still so stuck in such old mentality in the South? Are we not as tolerant as I always thought?

I am a white man from the South and I have always been proud to call myself a Southern, but lately I don't find quite as much pride in that term.

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1 comment:

Travis said...

I think that we need this kind of introspection periodically to understand how far we've come, and how far we still have to go.

I'm a white guy from California. I grew up without religion and around a bigoted father for the early part of my childhood. I always found his brand of racism to be repugnant. It never had a chance of sticking, and I'm glad of that.

Now I live in the northwest, and I've heard similar disgusting jokes about Mr Obama from people in one of the most liberal states in America. It saddens me, but I also know that it is better. And the more we work, the better it will be in the future.

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