Current City: It’s Complicated

Delusions of Beulah

This post on The Bookshop Blog thoughtfully addresses something I spend a lot of time thinking about–the conflicts one feels when trying to embrace (dare I say, love?) the fact that they’re from the South without espousing (and yet not ignoring) some of it’s less fortunate former and current attitudes.

A woeful amount of displays one sees of ‘southern pride’ involve semi-literate bluster, intolerance, and very purposeful rebel flags. But there are those of us who joyfully (and quietly) read Faulkner and Hurston, spend placid days on the river with friends and family, garden in the heat and humidity, can strawberry jam, appreciate the dulcet tones of bluegrass–and love every minute of it. All without the loud, malevolent displays produced by an inferiority complex partially of our own making and partially imposed upon us by others.

I’ve come to shrug my shoulders at those who stereotype and condescend to Southerners wholesale (NPR and New York Times: I’m sorry, but I’m looking at you), patronizingly remarking on our ‘progress’ even as they dig up our ugliest images from the past (you’ll find a perfect example of this here). It’s so often done out of ignorance that it carries little credibility with me any more. More fulfilling is owning the South’s complexity gracefully and positively. It involves embracing some beauty, regretting some horror, and working for something better, as the author says: “ignoring the grim statistics and carving out careers [and lives] down here.”

I also love the video patchwork the author compiles to show the region’s cultural complexity (and the hat tip to the much-mourned Turner South network) especially Zora Neale talking about the zombies.