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SequimBob2 On April - 3 - 2011

I read Marion’s recent article, Bageant and Webb: Virginia Will Miss ‘em, several times and failed to come away with the same sense of regional attack that others did. Perhaps, coming from the South, I viewed the comments filtered through a certain culture lens.  (Or perhaps I’m just slow.  You know how we Southerners are.  :-) )  In either event, I recognized the views expressed about ‘coastal elites’ as those as expressed by people with whom I grew up. Marion’s article generated a good deal of comment and it brought back some long-buried memories. I’d like to share a bit about my upbringing in good ol’ boy country… southern Mississippi during the 1950’s and 60’s.

I found this definition of good ol’ boy on the web: a white male Southerner with an unpretentious convivial manner and conservative or intolerant attitudes and a strong sense of fellowship with and loyalty to other members of his peer group. These are the people around whom I was raised – a mix of contrasts, a study in gentility and grace one moment juxtaposed against virulent racism and violence the next.

Children were schooled in manners from an early age. I remember when my uncle introduced me at the ripe old age of 8 to one of his associates; I subsequently received a harsh lecture about the importance of not giving a limp handshake. I remember my uncle’s words clearly. “When you shake a man’s hand, you shake it. By God, you grab ‘hold of him and let him know that there’s a “man” on the other end of that handshake. Do you understand me, boy?” I had embarrassed my uncle within his peer group. I had never, ever in my short life been spoken to like this. My uncle was visibly angry. I had violated the ‘code.’ More lessons would follow.

In many respects, my aunt and uncle did more active “parenting” than my biological parents. My uncle had a firm code by which he lived, a work ethic and unshakeable conviction of what it meant to be a man. He was determined to instill the right character traits in me early on – to make sure I grew up to be a proper Southern man.

I got my first job at the age of ripe old age of 8 or 9. My job was to water my uncle’s chickens. He raised premium fighting cocks. Upon showing myself dependable, I was given $40 dollars at the end of the year in a small ceremony around their kitchen table. I’d never seen so much money. It never occurred to me when I accepted the job that I was going to be paid. Not only was I paid, but I was promoted.

The next year I got to mow my aunt and uncle’s lawn AND the half-acre of land housing the chickens. The thing about chickens is they poop a lot. And this poop will make the grass grow so fast you can almost see it happening. Chicken manure is powerful stuff. I probably weighed all of 70 pounds and I was pushing a Big Wheel Yazoo mower through chicken poop-enhanced Johnson grass using a mower that weighed as much or more than I did.

I understood that my uncle raised, sold and gambled on his fighting cocks. I understood the sport (and what he did) was illegal, although I did not witness my one-and-only cock fight in the Mississippi Piney Woods until I was much older.

I understood from my uncle the concept of honor… doing the right thing. I noted the contradictions, but they did not seem to be contradictions at the time. You could be an honorable man and break the law, too – like when he took me to buy his daily bottle of Jim Beam whiskey at the local bootlegger’s. Our county was “dry,” but there was always whiskey – even for me when I got a cold. Peppermint candy dissolved in whiskey makes a beautifully syrupy drink that soothes a sore throat. And besides, my uncle and the sheriff were buddies at the local Shriners Hall and EVERYBODY there had whiskey. Thus, I learned there were laws that it was OK to break and laws that should not be broken. I decided all this ‘code’ stuff was pretty complicated.

When new neighbors moved in across the street, the moving van was still in front of the house when my aunt immediately began baking a casserole to take to them. It was just what one did. And when one of my aunt’s black housekeeper became ill, my aunt cooked for her. But — the food she took over was delivered in special dishes. I learned that it was important to keep the dishes of white folk and black folk separate. And my uncle, too, would work side-by-side with the ‘minority help’ and treat them sternly, but respectfully – even though my uncle was a fierce racist and would belittle Blacks when none were present. As long as Blacks followed the ‘code,’ (did not call at the front door, behaved in a subservient manner, etc.) my uncle played the role of benevolent overseer.

In 50’s and 60’s Mississippi, the races operated within prescribed boundaries. “Whites Only” water fountains were to be observed. Blacks were not allowed in the white section of the movie theater. White women were to be treated with the utmost respect by Black men. And for Blacks that did not conform to the established code of behavior, well there were other “remedies.”

When I was in the seventh grade, my family’s TV repairman was arrested for firebombing a black family’s home. There were no survivors. His son told me at school shortly thereafter that he could not wait until he was 18 so he could be the best Klansman he could be. Frankly, I was stunned by his confession and shocked by the violence. Neighbors would shake their heads in obvious sadness. Some were upset at the violence. Others were upset, not so much at the violence itself, but at its ‘necessity.’

My second run-in with the Klan was at another Uncle’s home. He was a high school principal and was in the process of complying with the Federal Desegregation order. The Klan called that night and threatened to “come kill us all.” I still recall the image of rifles and shotguns stacked next to the door and all of the adults sitting solemnly around the kitchen table… waiting for the possibility of death. (As an aside, when Haley Barbour says things weren’t that bad in Civil Rights era Mississippi, take it from me; he’s either lying or doesn’t want to admit the truth to himself.)

We moved further out into the county after I graduated from middle school. At my first day in the 10th grade, I could not believe how many pick-up trucks in the school parking lot were sporting a Johnny Reb bumper tag that read, “Hell, no! We Ain’t Fergettin.’” It was here, in 1960’s Mississippi, that I learned the Civil War was not quite over.

On my bus route, there was a family with the last name of Knight. They were infamous throughout the county for reportedly being of mixed race. Not that you could tell from looking at them; they were perfectly white. But like Hester Pryne of the Scarlet Letter, they wore a mark of shame. This original Southern sin of mixing-of-the-races actually took place a few years after the Civil War ended,  but the Knights were known to be not of pure blood and so time did not matter.

As the five Knight children boarded the bus, the bus would remain deathly silent as all the other children on the bus watched the ‘N-word-Knights’ take their seats. Watching the Knight kids be ostracized was both painful and surreal. The following is a picture of a Black slave, Rachel Knight, who after the end of the Civil War married her owner, a former Confederate soldier, by the name of Newton Knight.

For a fascinating story of war, love, courage and racism, please visit: http://mshistory.k12.ms.us/articles/309/newton-knight-and-the-legend-of-the-free-state-of-jones

My immediate family never talked about race. If I heard my parents use the “N-word,” I do not recall it. (For that I am eternally grateful.) But not all racism in Mississippi was overt. I first learned about my father’s racism while my soon-to-be wife and I were planning our wedding. We had invited a Black ROTC classmate of mine to attend. My father promptly said he would not attend if there was a Black present. My friend came to the wedding. My father also attended and wept like a baby during the ceremony. But I also had relatives who never spoke to me again… ever. Perhaps my dad was just embarrassed by our Black friend being on the guest list. He was a proud man and by inviting my friend, I had shamed him and broken the ‘code.’

After college, I served a number of years in the military during which I had my ‘sorry butt’ (as we Southerners would say) looked after by some truly wonderful people of color. For a time, these people were my family. To be honest, I liked them better than most of my biological family.

Upon leaving the military, I found that my extended family remaining in the South had passed the poison of racism on to their kids. The use of the N-word in my relatives’ homes was so rampant that I simply couldn’t stand it. After repeatedly asking that they not use that word in my presence, I finally gave up; I left. I could no longer go home. I have no intention of returning.

Are there things I miss about the South? Absolutely! I miss the sound of cicadas in the evening.

(If you’ve never heard a cicada, there are audio clips at the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada#Cicada_song The recording from Greece is closest to what I remember.)

I miss catfish fries at the river camp we used to visit. I miss seeing painted turtles sunning on logs in the river. I miss Southern “hospitality.” I miss the biscuits and the corn bread and fried okra… and there’s nothing like a nice bowl of steaming hot grits on a cold winter morning. And I miss the five or six dogs that would invariably bound off the porch and run to greet me when I visited friends and relatives.

I miss the manners… the “yes, ma’am” and “no ma,am” expressions of respect I found to be so comforting during my youth. And I miss my uncle (now deceased) and his sense of honor. I miss all these things but choose to live far from the Deep South. I choose to live elsewhere not because the South I grew up in remains unchanged, but I prefer to remain apart from the South because of the painful memories it evokes.

The “Rednecks” with whom I was raised are just another species of good-ol’-boy folk who are ‘brought up’ with a ‘code’ and a powerful sense of belonging to a group. They reinforce each other’s beliefs and hold to these beliefs with tremendous sense of pride. Belonging to this community is critically important to them. I know this place. I was raised there and I have found communities with similar traits all over the country.

My father was never accepted as a good ol’ boy. He liked to wear ‘fancy’ clothes more suited for church than working in the field. When I accompanied him into the local coffee shop, the good ol’ boys would look up, greet him coolly, but not invite him to join them. He was not one of them and it was evident from the way they looked at us that we were tolerated but not truly welcome. They, in their blue denim overalls, boots, and John Deere baseball caps, lived in their own world and we were not a part of it.

If you’ve never lived in or belonged to one of these closed communities, their ways and beliefs can be difficult to understand. The members of these groups will sometimes cling to a disproven belief with incredible passion… a belief that the South will rise again… that Northerners are not to be trusted. Why would anyone willingly hold to evidently misguided or false beliefs? It is easy to explain, but much more difficult to understand and accept.

Good ol’ boys hold to their beliefs, both true and false, because these beliefs are their buddies’ beliefs and their loyalty to their good-ol’- boy buddies can be stronger than blood – and certainly more important than something as tenuous as Truth. They would rather be wrong together than right alone. It is part of the ‘code.’

This is not the story of the entire South. Not everyone in the South is intolerant of race. This is simply my story… or a part of it. When I read Marion’s post, it took me back home… to a place I no longer visit… to recollections I rarely call up… and to memories of a different time, a different place and a different code of life.

Author’s Note: I grew up in Jones County Mississippi.  Believe it or not, but Jones County actually seceded from the Confederacy.  The story of Newton Knight, his slave and later wife, Rachel, is a fascinating one.  Do check out the weblink provided above for a unique taste of southern history.  If you want to learn more, there are numerous books available through Amazon.com about the Free State of Jones.  See: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_19?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=free+state+of+jones&sprefix=free+state+of+jones

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.

Written by SequimBob2

Retired guy. Southerner by birth. Pacific Northwesterner by choice. Political junkie. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal. Writer. Avid photographer.

140 Responses so far.

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  1. whatsthatsound says:

    Man, I am getting REALLY sick of “Postal Elites”! Regular mail’s not good enough for them. Everything has to be registered, registered, registered! Like their mail is just SO important! They kept me forever waiting in line, forced to smell their overpriced lattes in their little bags. Then they laughed at me when I bought my regular postcard stamps. Who do these people think they ARE?

    • kesmarn says:

      Then there are the Toast-all Elites. Plain bread on their sandwiches?
      Never! Even their peanut butter and jellies must be toasted. And around the table, even when the beverage is a simple vintage kool-aid, it’s always all about toasting this person and toasting that event. They’re so relentlessly congenial.

      It’s hard on an ordinary plebian curmudgeon.

  2. Pepe Lepew says:

    Coastal Elites?!

    I’ll show you coastal elites!

    From San Francisco

    On the Coast

  3. Artist50 says:

    I lead a sheltered life in a small town in Indiana that had several black families in the community that were excepted and an important part of our town. In 1965 we had a black class president, in the late 60’s we had several black cheerleaders, and that was at a time where other towns were having riots in their high schools. I don’t quite know why we were different, certainly there were racists amongst us -- but for some reason these families were well known and accepted.

    I grew up with very open-minded parents that encouraged free thinking which was not true of many of my friends. I never heard my father say a derogatory word against black man. As a young teen-ager when I was old enough to become interested in the news and my father encouraged us to be able to discuss it at the dinner table, my bubble was burst. I never imagined everyone didn’t have towns like ours. I was shocked to learn there were separate drinking fountains in the South. I never dreamed things were so different than where I lived. Those were the roots of my liberalism -- learning of lynchings and the Klan and finding out that hate happened right here in my state.

    • kesmarn says:

      Artist, you were so fortunate to see an example of successful integration right from early childhood. Looking back on that must seem like remembering the best part of Eden.

      I grew up in a semi-rural area and the Catholic elementary school I attended didn’t have a single black kid in it. Not being able to hang out with black classmates was a loss. (Black kids and white kids both miss out on good things when they don’t get to know each other, obviously.) There was no policy of exclusion; there just weren’t Catholic black families in that area. Fortunately, the situation changed when I went to high school, and we were all the better for it.

      Like you, I remember the dismay of realizing what the attitude out there in the wider world could be. Older members here will know that I’ve told this anecdote before, but — once more, with their indulgence.

      When I was a kid, our family traveled by car to Florida. We had stopped to eat lunch at a local restaurant that had a fairly large gravel parking lot. (This would have been in the deep South; I’m sorry I don’t recall which state.) After we had finished and were ready to leave, my dad had to make a wide swing in the lot to get the car out facing the road again. A thin young black man happened to be crossing the lot at the same time. When he looked up and saw that our car was aiming somewhat in his direction, he jumped and ran with a look of terror on his face. It was obvious that he thought we were going to “mess with” him by chasing him in the parking lot. Of course, that idea had never even entered my dad’s head. But the thought that harassment of that type was daily fare for a black kid in the South, was really depressing.

      Talk about a paradigm shift… sigh. But that’s where childhood awakenings come from, too, I guess.

  4. whatsthatsound says:

    Once a city mouse went to visit his cousin in the countryside. The country mouse was the salt of the earth. He lived humbly, and his life was made bearable by his two favorite “Daniels”, Charlie and Jack. Appalled by his primitive lifestyle and meager conditions, his cousin urged him to come live with him in the city. “You’ll eat delicacies you can’t even imagine! You’ll see sights you’ve not even seen in dreams! Leave this threadbare existence and LIVE!”
    So the country mouse took one last swig of JD, and accompanied his cousin to the city.
    And they lived happily ever after.
    So there, AD!

  5. whatsthatsound says:

    Farm Living is the Life for ME!

  6. foodchain says:

    Hey. I see the larger point being that we feel the need to define ourselves geographically at all. We are letting others provoke us into defending something that doesn’t need defending. sometimes I want to say “we are the enemy” but usually I want to say: ” We are not the enemy, they are. Let us not fight ourselves.” Protecting our heritage is important to each and every person (for some reason) and we are seeing it every where in the world. I don’t have a heritage per se. I think we do better as people talking, sharing one on one than we do in protecting the past. I was hoping for my mother’s earrings.

    • ADONAI says:

      “There are only 2 types of people. People who divide everything into two types of people and those who don’t.” Good line. Can’t remember where I head it.

      Seriously though, I divide everyone into two kinds of people.

      City Folk.

      Country folk.

      I don’t care for city folk.

  7. Dbos says:

    Wonderful story l loved every word ;thanks I live in phoenix AZ. lots of those same folks are running this state.

  8. whatsthatsound says:

    An ode to “Flyover Country”

      • kesmarn says:

        It simply does not — ever — get any cheesier than this:

        “We’re Strong For Toledo” and “Honey, Bless Your Heart”:

        • Khirad says:

          This goes out to the Coastal Elites!

          And oh yeah, here’s another voice from the hoity-toity coastal city of Aberdeen. 😉

        • whatsthatsound says:

          Yuck! Hey, Kes and Khirad. Have you ever heard this? Cultural Elitist David Byrne’s unabashed trashing of flyover country, “The Big Country” by The Talking Heads

          • Khirad says:

            This is why I love music. I agree WTS, I think it can mean all of the above. Not only can a song lead to several interpretations, it can be consciously self-contradictory and soaked in ambiguity.

            And yes, k’es I think you’re crazy!

            I need mountains or hills in the landscape or it doesn’t feel right to me. That’s probably just the Western part of me, though. I don’t know what it is psychologically, but I can’t deal with a vast expanse and flat horizon. The mountains, they shelter me, perhaps.

            • KillgoreTrout says:

              A mild form of agoraphobia? When I lived in the west, I loved to go outside in the morning and see mountains on a daily basis.
              Being from Ohio, and Boston, mountains in the backround is not a sight one sees.
              I used to love seeing Mt. Hood towering over Portland.

            • kesmarn says:

              Lotsa people have that feeling, Khirad, but me? I feel as though I’m “stubbing my eyes” on mountains. My vision can’t “stretch out” over the long flat distances. I think I’m like one of those crazy sailors who can hardly deal with being on land, and has to have the vast expanse of ocean to gaze at.

              I’ve been known to pull over on a country road in the early fall and just look and look and look at the almost endless flatness of it all. And it helps if it’s windy, too.

              (The moors, Heathcliffe…!) 😆

          • kesmarn says:

            Well, WTS, I wish David wouldn’t pull his punches like that. Can’t he just tell us what he really thinks? 😉

            Flyover country isn’t for everyone, it’s true. But in my (and others’) case it isn’t as though I’m in default mode as a result of having never lived anywhere else. Cities I’ve known and occasionally loved include: Indianapolis, Honolulu, New Haven, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, New Orleans, Toronto, Chicago and probably a bunch more that I have forgotten to list.

            Somehow, though, I love the flatlands, to the amazement of many of my sane friends. I love to gaze out over big corn and wheat fields. I love loving in a city that has a tremendous inferiority complex. At the same time that it has a world-class art museum and zoo. And this little rust-belt town has mosques, synagogues, temples and a summer festival for almost every nationality on the face of the earth, a fine symphony orchestra and some pretty cool colleges and universities.

            I know you weren’t suggesting that Byrne was right, WTS, or asking me to defend my residence of choice. But it is fun talking about the joys of flyover country. I’m almost hoping not too many people figure out how cool it is here, because then they’ll all come rushing in to drink up a all that nice, fresh Lake Erie water. 😀

            And — last observation — I don’t think David Byrne has a very good voice. Bless his heart… 😆

            • kesmarn says:

              Right, WTS, the irony on that one could go either way. As so many have said: people are people wherever you go, and, truly, from Tokyo to Toledo, I’ve found that to be true. That’s why regional stereotyping can be so exasperating. While at the same time, I love explorations of regional differences, like the one Bob has done. That may sound contradictory, I know.

              But hey, coming from a place known as the Glass City, I’m in no position to throw stones at anyone. 😉

            • AlphaBitch says:

              With you on that one, Kes. Bless his heart.

            • whatsthatsound says:

              You know, I can never figure out about that song if he is speaking from his own opinions, or is ironically mocking his fellow New Yorkers. I think it’s probably a bit of both, actually. And, of course, the expression “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to!” was originally said ABOUT New York, not by New Yorkers. So I think it’s just a whole irony thing he’s got going there. To be taken with a grain of salt (and a glass of farm fresh milk!)

  9. Khirad says:

    Now, though I’ve never been (save Richmond and other parts of Virginia) and am reluctant to claim Southern heritage (not so much out of the perceived shame, but because I have little right to it), this is the South I’ve heard about and which rings very familiar. This is the South I know from my Savannah-born and raised transplant grandmother to the Northwest pining for home until her death. The racist but cordial woman who was always happy to see us. Hers was not an overt racism, either, but a “polite” form. It’s still hard to reconcile such a lovely family person being that prejudiced. I would have never known, either, had my dad not pointed out little things-like discretely throwing away food after a black person prepared and/or served it.

    I take it with some irony, that of clan (‘C’) affiliations I’ve mulled over, I’ve chosen the one I have the most direct and numerous relations to--my grandma’s family name. When I eventually am able to afford a kilt, it will be with this family’s tartan--but the bloodline I choose to associate with goes back beyond any Sons of Confederate Veterans roots I can claim--and that’s the one I’m more comfortable recognizing. The Rebellion of 1745, not the one of 1861. Nevertheless, Jim Webb has remarked on it, and I must agree, however romantically vague and unprovable a premise it is to base a theory on, that a lot of this “code”, the tribalism, the distrust of a far-off capital and independent streak (to break certain rules, etc.) is strikingly similar to the temperament of the Scots and Scots-Irish which emigrated to the South. Just replace ‘Yankee’ with ‘Sassenach’. How the makeup of English and German ancestry in the South affects or plays a part in this I’ve yet to be able to explain. Maybe that’s where the hospitality comes from?!

    Now, the Southern aristocrats of the Confederacy I can understand, but those poor who were driven out of their own homelands, whose forebears were treated like wild savages, one day doing the same to another group is one of the darkest lessons of history (and the sociology thereof) that any one group can learn to abuse another and view themselves as superior (like, now it’s our turn). Maybe the lessons are forgotten over time from one generation to another, but to the observer of history, there is a decidedly anti-racist message to it all. We are all by circumstance capable of finding ourselves oppressed, and we are all also capable of oppressing. The most pernicious part of oppression I find though, is that the oppressor will often all the while view themselves as the victim.

    In any case, how interesting to be from the Free State of Jones!

    As to my own very conflicted (mostly negative yet inexplicably stubborn) views on the CSA, I’ve been over it quite a lot already here, and will only delve into it if others are not as bored as I am by what limited second-hand insight I have. Though, for the record, my dad is still uncannily the best Southern ‘analyst’ I personally know--his refrain of wisdom to “just let ’em keep talkin” time and time again has proven correct in this age of veiled racism. Eventually, they let it slip. They can’t help it, nor do they immediately realize it when they have betrayed themselves. Hayley Barbour is well overdue for one such (overt) lapse.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      Khirad -- “… any one group can learn to abuse another and view themselves as superior (like, now it’s our turn).”

      That’s exactly right. I’ve lived with all kinds of different people down here in the South, and there’s always some group lower than the group you’re with, some people lower on the hierarchy that people can look down on.

      When I first left home so long ago, I lived in a residential-hotel, where people looked down on those who had no home at all. When I stepped up one rung to living in a rooming house, the people there looked down on the people I previously knew. It’s always like that.

      A couple of years ago there was a sci-fi movie called “District 9” that made this same point. A group of starving refugees from another planet were stranded in South Africa. What happened next was the most likely thing: the social ladder simply had another rung installed at the bottom. I had never seen such a thing in a science fiction movie before, and it gave the movie a believability that no special effects ever could.

    • SequimBob2 says:

      “Hayley Barbour is well overdue for one such (overt) lapse.”

      Khirad: For me the overt lapse was when he said ‘it wasn’t that bad’ when referring to Civil Rights era Mississippi. I lead a comparatively sheltered life and saw enough to be horrified. If he’s not willing to be honest about our past, he has no business being a part of our future.

      Thanks for posting.

  10. funksands says:

    As a refugee from the Ozarks, I can tell you two things:

    1) Great piece.

    2) My dad’s family would have thought that people that operate by “codes” were pretentious. My grandfather, who didn’t wear shoes the last 12 years of his life operated under one simple principle. “Mind your own damn business”.

    Thanks again for posting. I really enjoyed this.

  11. whatsthatsound says:

    SB2, another great, original post from you. I like your broad range of topics. It’s great reading through the comments and hearing about other peoples’ upbringings as well.

  12. escribacat says:

    What a terrific post, SB. I could have kept on reading for a long time if you had kept on writing. The world you describe is familiar yet totally alien to me — a female who grew up in Colorado in the late 50s and 60s. I admit I share a lot of the prejudices that Marion pointed out in her essay. My earliest exposures to the South were TV newsreels of horrid whites jeering at black youngsters while they tried to walk into a school. There was “Deliverance” and “Easy Rider.” That famous “Life Magazine” picture of the two murderous sheriffs stuffing their faces with their feet up. Holy shit. To me, Mississippi sounded like the most frightening and awful place on the planet. I remember telling someone I would never go there.

    The beautiful irony of this is that many of my favorite classic authors are from the South — Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty. Geniuses. Even today, my first hand experience of the south is limited to literary hotspots — New Orleans, Sewanee Tennessee, Savannah (Flannery O’Connor’s house). So my prejudice against the South is tempered by this enormous admiration for the writers it produces. Oxford, Mississippi is a place I’d love to visit for this same reason.

    I also identify with what Marion was talking about to a small extent. I lived in California for nearly 20 years and spent a year in the UK. More than once I heard people bashing my home state of Colorado and environs for being redneck. I always found that annoying, especially since it was usually people who had never been here.

    I grew in Boulder, which is an extremely liberal pocket surrounded by plenty of rednecks. At that time, Boulder must have been about the most WASPy place on the planet. I mean, we didn’t even have Catholics here, much less Jews or Blacks. I think there were three black kids in my high school — one was the captain of the football team, another was a popular cheerleader. Boulder is not as homogenized today as it used to be but it is still REALLY WHITE, especially compared to San Francisco, where I lived for a long time. There’s very little open racism here — but I don’t think it’s particularly because we are so evolved. We are just sheltered. I did grow up hearing the term “wetback” and “beaner” a lot, however. I probably even used it myself when I was little.

    Anyway, I think the point is well taken that you can’t defend generalizations about a whole group or place (neither “Southerners” nor “coastal elites”). Within my own family, you will find the entire political spectrum represented — and that’s just our little clan.

    • SequimBob2 says:

      Escribacat: Thanks for writing. I’m glad you found the post enjoyable.

      WTS is correct. People generalize. People stereotype. ‘People think what they’re going to think.’

      I worked for a guy who often joked about me being a “Southern Inbred.” Actually, that’s not true. It was “Snaggled-tooth Southern Inbred.” For some reason, it never got under my skin. There are people who equate Southern with stupid. Me, I think such generalizations are what’s not too intelligent.

      Some of America’s richest culture (I think) can be found in the South. I’m glad you’ve sampled some of the South’s authors, but hope you will also have the opportunity to eat oysters in the New Orleans French Quarter or take a drive along the Natchez Trace or visit Richmond, VA or perhaps Vicksburg, MS. As you say, the full spectrum will be on display.

      I took a way a lot from Mississippi, the poorest state in the Union. Even with the painful memories, I think gained much, much more than I lost.

  13. Marion says:

    Do you realise that today the ten most segregated cities in America are all found in the North -- and that New York City and Los Angeles are amongst them?

  14. Marion says:

    Each state in the South is as different from one another as chalk is from cheese.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      There’s a lot of truth in that.

      There’s even a lot of difference between the Low Country in South Carolina and the rest of the state.

    • foodchain says:

      Marion, I love that saying. Lifting that! I love that you started this concept

    • whatsthatsound says:

      This from she who tirelessly informs us about coastal elites and “The Left Coast”.

      Okay. Got it. Let’s not generalize.

      • Marion says:

        Point taken, but I have had some very BAD and condescending experiences with people from the so-called “Left” coast. I don’t take kindly to people who refer to the Midwest as “flyover country” and who lump everyone from South of the Mason-Dixon Line as inbred shitkickers and unreconstructed Confederates.

        If I wanted to talk about or claim elitism, I could list my academic credentials, which -- were they known -- would reek of the sort of elitism some Progressives would die for; but I object to people using that as a stick with which to beat less fortunate people.

        • funksands says:

          Marion, I for one a getting really tired of your stereotypes of those of us on the west coast being “really cool” and “awesome people”. Probably the worst one is when you called us “thoughtful”. There are plenty of assholes out here and we’re tired of being lumped in with the rest. :-)

        • Khirad says:

          Then please take the point, in all due respect, for real.

          There’s lots of variety on the coasts, too.

          Unless you think the Northwest but an extension of California. And those just like New England. And that all these places have no variety as can be found in the South.

          It really defeats the overall big point you’re making. That’s all.

        • choicelady says:

          I sympathize Marion -- I was born in Nebraska with family generations back in Omaha and still other in Bureau County Illinois -- where they ran a stop on the Underground RR.

          No one I’ve met on either coast had a clue where those places are. It’s sad really because they are fantastic places to live with very beautiful cities and towns. Where DO people think the Progressive movement was BORN??? CA brags about having initiative, recall, and referendum -- but the Dakotas, MN, and the other ‘fly overs’ had them over a decade earlier. And did NOT screw them up as CA has.

          I look at it this way -- we know the wonderfulness of the Plains and Midwest. Sequim and others know the South, and those who sneer at both just leave more room for those of us who appreciate it all.

        • KillgoreTrout says:

          marion, I too am from fly-over country but have lived on both coasts as well. Many people migrate to one coast or another simply because they prefer living near the ocean, regardless of political stripe.
          A lot of people in California aren’t from California. Same with the Atlantic coast.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          I’m from Columbus, OH, a great town that is as “flyover” as it gets to many in the media, but why should I let that get to me? There are as many “Columbuses” as there are people living there. People gonna think what people gonna think.

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