Southern Pride Leaves Me Perplexed

Every since I moved up to the NYC about seven months ago, I made it my mission to not only hold on to my southern roots but to represent royally every chance I get. For example, when out and about on the town at an event in the NYC, they always do the customary rep your borough segment, for example “IS BROOKLYN IN THE HOUSE!?!?! WHAT ABOUT HARLEM!?!?,” and while I must admit I make  some noise for the BK, and oddly sometimes Harlem (long story), as soon as I catch a hint of following silence, I yell “NEW ORLEANS BAAAAAYBEH, DIRTY SOUTH IN YOUR MOUTH”, or my personal favorite CHOPPA CITY UP IN YEH!!!(vis a vis BG). I have always loved the feeling of being from the south and more specifically New Orleans, and anyone who knows me knows more specifically being from the Bestbank, excuse me… Westbank; but there is something about being out of the south and living in the northeast that makes the feeling of being southern exponentially more awesome. I’m sure its something about being  unique in a place that’s so different in many ways, but whatever the reason I love it, and am constantly representing. CONSTANTLY! At home with friends, at restaurants with friends, at concerts with friends, at work with coworkers…..pause!!! AT WORK WITH COWORKERS?!?!? Sound the trumpets, que the band, positions everyone, DRUM ROLL please…. And here ladies and gentlemen lies the perplexing conundrum. In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….

You see, most of my friends in the NYC are African-American, and while representing the south with them by my side, the symbols of the south that make me well up with pride so passionately are usually African-American rooted symbols. From the food, music, church, dialects, humor etc. So cleeeeearly it is easy to represent pride in those beautiful memories  with my African-American friends as they share the same visions,….but I found myself at work one day(scene shifts to doctor, psychology, and social worker computer room where surrounding company just happens to be mainly Caucasian), and just as a reflex I was representing the South yet once again with as much vigor and cheer as when with my crew, but when I looked around, these WERE NOT the same faces of concurrent joy and relatedness I was used to celebrating in front of, and they in no way had the same enjoyment in my pride that the aforementioned friends had, nooooo. Instead they had the look of, was the south really that good to you, don’t those people call you all NIGGERS?!? And after I picked my smiling face up off the floor, dusted it off and put it back on my head, in that very same head I’m thinking, your right, they do call me NIGGER, DAMN THE SOUTH!  And truly, they didn’t say a word, but the look on their faces after I “represented” was a look of shock and surprise and evoked in me totally different symbols and memories than those I had previously experienced with the aforementioned company. You see the look on their faces was all about the memories and the symbols of hatred, and oppression, because when they think of the south they think of the hicks and red necks and the racial struggles. They think of  racism, and how ever false it may be, that they aren’t racist like those southern whites and how could you represent a land where your people have been treated as such. This all came to me like a wretched epiphany, that to represent for the south isn’t just saying I love Mahalia Jackson, and gumbo, and second line dancing, and speaking to people you don’t even know for hours like you knew them all your life, and people with nicknames like Pookie, Man-Man, Fat, Twin, or Madea……Nooooo, its is double-sided. It is in a sense saying, I love this places ugly history, its lynching, its Jim crow, its sitting on the back of a bus, its exclusion, or at least if not saying that, it is saying I don’t mind that so much anymore, at least not enough not to shout it out every chance I get like a GOT DAM FOOL. Now when I get the urge to represent for the South, I pause and think on it a little more. Whereas before I would envision the beautiful Moss covered Oak Trees of city park, now I remember that southern trees bared such strange fruit, and it was no pretty flower they produced.

Now when it’s time to rep the south I get more on my mind than I had originally bargained for. And I’m not saying that I’ll never rep the south again, or that all that Black beauty isn’t enough to overcome all that hate and hurt, and that white southerners didn’t bring positive things to the south, but what I am saying is that for now, I’m a little bit bitter, and my celebration won’t be as emphatic, or as “crunk” or as “boockoo crazy”.  My celebration won’t be as freed and as easy as it was before what I like to call my recent The Great Reminder, and it will definitely not be in front of my Caucasian brothers and sisters. Perhaps I’m just a little salty and it will pass, or perhaps I’m just overreacting……..but that’s where you all come in. What do you think? How do you feel about it, and did you ever have a similar notion to just HIT you and change a part of you just a bit?  Let’s Get it!

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6 Responses to Southern Pride Leaves Me Perplexed

  1. Tha Doc says:

    After 13 years of living in Boston, you know better than most my love for the South will never die. I rep that GA all day sir and I could care less what someone else thinks. I say don’t let anyone steal your pride for your home. Just as they think their home is the best place on earth, well guess what, so do we! The fact that others have to talk so badly (and may I add misinformed) about the South just lets me know that they don’t understand. I can’t imagine living anywhere else; the people, the culture, the food, the weather, and so much more just can’t be matched. There is a reason why in the US the region that has the most pride has always been and always will be the South. How often do you see someone up North represent their entire state? Not often. Whereas down South it’s a common occurrence. So I say keep your Southern Pride brother and don’t let anyone tell you to stop and if they do, politely and intelligently tell them to watch they mouth before they get their issue!!! LOL!! To quote Goodie Mob, What you really know about the Dirty South?!?!

  2. Torea says:

    Every location, country, city, continent has a tawdry past. The most fantastic of cities seem to have suffered terrible revolutions, injustices, etc. I feel the shame isn’t yours to bear, so why shouldn’t you jump up and down and represent. You also shouldn’t be less of yourself. Your Southern/Westbank pride is a part of you, you wear it like a badge of honor. Don’t be bitter about its history. I don’t love its history and neither do you, but we are very aware of it. You don’t represent the past but the South’s uncanny ability to flourish and renew itself amidst all the bull. When folks react to your pride as they would to a battered spouse’s rants of love, simply think, “yes, our history is a bloody mess, but look at me now.” You could also just say you ran into a door…(bad joke, I know).

    You are a delightful, personable, and polite person who has never met a stranger. I recognize your amazing mother and family had most to do with that but don’t forget you are a product of the South. Damn those judgmental Yankees! They only wish they were half as strong and fly as Southerners. Keep in mind these are probably the same people who are dancing in the French Quarter on vacation, smiling in the bellhops face because they love the vibe and the people.

    Keep the Southern Pride Alive!

  3. LovelySavant says:

    Welcome to the conundrum of living in NYC, a city full of diversity and false assumptions that we live in post-racial America. I find it so interesting that Caucasian folks up in the North always look down on the Southern states, as if they have somehow by regional location been elevated from the racial biases and ignorance that prevail in society. One thing I have often said to both my Northern white and black friends is that I prefer the South because the prejudices are not thinly veiled behind a smile. Instead if I’m a nigger to you in the South you will express that sentiment and keep it moving. Unfortunately in the North, they pretend as if by not saying “nigger” they are better although their actions reflect the same sentiments as their Southern counterparts. So in conclusion, don’t lose your Southern fervor Dope! You should not call into question or even dampen your pride in New Orleans or the south because it truly shaped who you are and this country. Much love Dirty South/NYC all day!

  4. CChelle says:

    It’s actually the history of the South that makes it all the more intriguing. To be from a place that is marred with scars and still healing from those wounds yet nurtures some of the most friendly and passionate people you will ever meet means something greatly unique is here. Think about it, why do so many black Southerners rep so hard? All things weighted, isn’t the South just THAT GREAT of a place that we deal with the race relations the best we can (with grace most times) because we see the goodness? Every good Southerner knows that real catfish comes with bones. You don’t throw out the catfish with the bones, you pick out the bones and enjoy!

    Northerners have no place to talk about the history or the current state of the South as if it is something separate from the history from them (I thought that was one of the sticking points of the Civil War). As if killing indigenous people to claim stolen land is morally superior to slavery. As if freed people weren’t stolen off the street and sold by Northerners to make a quick dollar. As if it didn’t take worldwide embarrassment by the media before northerners spoke up en masse about equal rights. As if apathy and separateness are any better than overt racism. It’s not a “southern” legacy of darkness- it’s a US legacy. And this separateness that some Northerners express isn’t harmless. It’s the dangerous notions based in ignorance that lead to US citizens termed “refugees” in their own country.

  5. LovelySavant says:

    Snaps to CChelle, so eloquently written, fave line: “Every good Southerner knows that real catfish comes with bones. You don’t throw out the catfish with the bones, you pick out the bones and enjoy!” and so agreed on the dangerous notions of ignorance

  6. Supreme Soul says:

    (with a black fist raised)…”RIGHT ON!”

    (this message is in response to all of the above posts!)

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