Sunday, December 18, 2005

The American South: The Scourge of the World

I was happily reading blogs a little while ago, feeling a little guilty that I was wasting time when I have work that needs doing. But I was adequately suppressing my guilt to be able to keep surfing. The TV was on Book TV and I was basically ignoring it. UNTIL, I heard the speaker make a statement to this effect, 'Our society as a whole is moving dangerously close to the same type of thinking we see in the South.' That got my attention, my ears perked up. I even left the computer for a moment and went over to another chair in the room to listen to what this guy was saying. Richard Florida, a professor of some sort, was lecturing on his book, 'The Flight of The Creative'. He made statements like, 'Conservatives are frieghtened of creative people.' 'Creative people need to come together to educate the conservatives and the southerners to broaden their minds.' 'Conservatism equals fearful.' etc. By Golly Gezz. We sure are ignorant. Being from the South, I have known that for a very long time. There are two incidents that stick out from my childhood that were light-bulb moments when I realized that we, as Southerners, were different than the rest of the nation. And, more importantly, that we were inferior. The first time was when I was 7 or 8 years old. My father had taken us on a trip 'up north'. We were in Pennsylvania on a beach and I remember my father had given us some money to buy a coke from a vender there. I went up to the vender and ordered a 'coke'. He acted like he couldn't understand me. I repeated myself. He still couldn't understand. I said it again. He said I didn't talk right. I remember feeling humiliated and confused. I went to my father crying. My father went to the vender and said something (I don't know what). The vender got all red-faced and mad looking and I got my coke. My father told me the guy couldn't understand perfectly good English and it wasn't my fault. He told me that guy didn't talk right, not me. The other time was in an English class in elementary school. I remember the teacher was teaching us to diagram sentences. She was a stickler for doing it correctly and for speaking properly. We all moaned and groaned when she told us to do it again and again until we did it correctly. One day, she explained. She told us that Northern schools were better than Southern schools. She told us that Northerners think they are smarter and better than us. She told us that we must speak properly and learn and be well educated because it was up to us to not be the sterotype we were painted to be. I remember her little talk to us well. It was the first time I understood that we were different and inferior to our northern brothers. I have seen proof of this repeatedly throughout my life, especially as an adult. It would take a book to write all the incidents and nuances down. Mr. Richard Florida of the Creative Class is not the first to use Southern synonymously with ignorant, backward, racist, close-minded, stupid and/or well, NON-creative. For the record, I have an education (higher education), I come from a family of well educated people, I have all my teeth, I wear shoes, and we have inside toilets. So there.