shaken & stirred

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go read this

Jeff at Syntax of Things responds to the Simic essay with some recollections of his own South.

I'm never sure what it takes to make the Southerner in me come out. Like my chocolate allergy, it's dependent upon my daily metabolism, my body's ability to process what it takes in. Some days, I hear the South ridiculed and I laugh along, even take part. You know the jokes: backwoods, slow, cousin lovers who till the soil by day and burn crosses at night. We (Southerners) have few teeth and no education, hate everything and everybody not like us, and can only read one book: the King James Bible. Then there are those times when I hear or read the ridicule and my reaction is completely different. I take out my peach basket, stand on it, and proclaim that the South ain't that.

Jeff talks openly about race and racism where he grew up. Recently, our newspaper here in town made some waves by running a giant front page correction that read as follows:

CLARIFICATION: It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission.

They've followed this up with a great group of story packages trying to rectify what they did wrong. Some (yes, you Jack Schafer at Slate) have called this smug and the editor self-congratulatory (hey, it was her first week; she was patting her new staff on the back). That doesn't make it any less important. Photos and stories of our local civil rights movement that would literally have been lost forever are being saved by the newspaper now. It is making people more aware of the racial issues that still exist here, and I'm talking about the kind of subtle, impossible to notice if you don't know the history kind. (Such as the fact that an entryway park into downtown built years and years ago was designed--or had the practical effect of doing so--to obscure the view of a prominent African-American neighborhood and the recent approval to demolish a mansion built by freed slaves downtown.) And just because these are things still being openly grappled with in the South and are easy to point to here doesn't mean there aren't still issues much like this elsewhere (Outside the South).

Anyway, more caffeine. See what Jeff has to say.


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