This whole piece is in response to the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg. She’s a bomb speaker and it’d also help you better understand my reflection.
Allow me to preface this entire reflection by saying I understand any prejudice I experience is minuscule compared to that of other races.
Living as a white man in America, you would think that I face little prejudice in my life outside of a notorious penchant for crackers. FALSE. I was born and raised in a breezy beach town in North-East Florida’s coast, which makes it guilty by association of being a southern city. My childhood was defined by sweet tea and sand, swiftly moving to the standard awkward adolescence, and then returning full circle with somewhat of a combination was young adulthood; sweet tea and awkward sex. Whatever happened in between this gap (don’t ask me, I forget) led me to live in Chicago.
Now in the Mid-West I am confronted with a newfound defensiveness of my home. At first it is always a conversation piece of interest when people discover I’m a Southerner, given our somewhat sparse presence. Once people get comfortable around me though, Southern stereotypes readily become an at-hand joke. To be honest, I’d be a hypocrite to say it’s completely not okay, because I am a proponent of the humor in stereotypes. However, there’s a unique sting that comes alongside being associated with the focus of these jokes. And it’s a stingy sting that feels…stingy.
Ms. Adichie gives us an eloquent reasoning as to the destructive effects of having only one story to establish one’s concept of anything. So I think to myself, “Are these pretentious, rude, greedy, Yankee bastards merely guilty of limited exposure to my people’s diversity?” Frankly when I think of the South at this very moment, the things that come to mind are that we lost the war, and that show with the General Lee. Can’t remember the name; they did a movie starring Johnny Knoxville and I think the co-star was Stiffler from American Pie. Oh well, maybe it’s best that I don’t remember, perhaps I repressed it a month ago. But I digress. Truly the South is most famous for hospitality and rednecks, not top-tier education and shrewd business. Although it hurts my soul to admit it, it’s easy for my friends to view we Bible-Belt denizens as missing-tooth farmers with a son by our cousin, and the last remaining slave burning books with fossil fuel for fire in our backyard. All the while Charlie Daniels playing the fiddle.
But I hold no inappropriate infatuation for my lovely cousins, and the 13th Amendment forbids what my now dead grandfather yearned for. So where does that leave me? Well to know where I am, we should know where I’m from. Screw that joke in the intro, this will serve as a rhetorical device too! My high school is dubbed Stanton College Preparatory School, and has an optional IB (International Baccalaureate) program/diploma which I attended/received. My friends know this well, because I make them know, and they quickly respond with a mocking nose held high in the air. Really, it’s my attempt at proving them that the South is full of brilliant people just like any other part of America. Well, except for Canada, no one likes them. You might be thinking to yourself, “This guy can’t possibly think Canada is part of America.” Well you’re wrong, they’re our hat. BOOM! Extra Canada burn. Anyway, a majority of Northerners don’t know my school has been number one in the nation for many years before, and remains among the best. They don’t know of the talented painters whose work is hung in its hallways. But most of all they don’t know that they themselves have bought into an incomplete story. Yes the South is full of radical Baptists, racists (radical Baptists), avid hunters, and the occasional baby with two different colored eyes (inbred). But we are so much more.
THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!