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!