True Southern Heritage

Am I the only one to notice that in this country, somehow, “Southern” has come to mean “White”? Other words that seem to pretend there are no minorities are “Main Street” or “Blue Collar” or “Conservative”? All of those words describe a larger percentage of Blacks than it does of Whites yet, somehow, they don’t.

My family IS Southern Heritage. We built the South. We built its buildings and its roads. We planted its fields. We harvested its crops. We fertilized the ground with our blood and too often with our murdered bodies. We sacrificed our freedom and our pride to it.

The wealth that the South has now came from the blood, sweat and tears of my family and families like it. Not the families of those who revere the Flag of the American Racist Traitor.

They didn’t build that

Their families were the parasites and evil bastards that raped and murdered and tortured because they could. They stole the lives and wealth of Blacks, enriched themselves with it and then sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor Whites to maintain their ill-gotten gain (sound familiar?).

Those poor Whites were the ancestors of the Tea Party/Radical Right Republicans today. Too stupid to see that they are being used by the rich and powerful. So full of hate and venom and murder and bile that they are willing to drag themselves down AND destroy their own future as long as they can keep Blacks or Gays or Immigrants or Women or anyone else who might be a threat to the rich and powerful down.

I love the South. I don’t mean that I love the romanticized version of the South that lives in Faulkner novels and in the darkest corners of White privilege. I hate that South. Hoop skirts and cotillions make me ill. Fake gentile layers hiding the rotting inner core of hate disgust me. That was all of the South in the not too distant past and is too much of the South today.

That South is the South where polite White folks see a qualitative difference between a “nigra” and a “nigger”. A difference that consists of two elements: level of deference to White folks (or as they are known in that South, “your betters”) and income level. That is the South that is meant when the Flag of the American Racist Traitor is flown.

There is no other meaning

That is the South that listens to the racist, classist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, dogwhistle of Republican politicians. That is the South that Pres. Clinton was talking to when he said when asked about then-Candidate Obama’s surge in the polls, Obama would have been “carrying our luggage a few years back”. That is that South that George W. Bush counted on when he smeared Sen. McCain with having a Black child. That is the South that Pres. Reagan was appealing to when he chose to announce his candidacy in Philadelphia, MS.

That is the South where almost every church is packed with passive racists on Sunday mornings often listening to sermons about brotherhood and inclusiveness while staying lily-white or jet-black. Even in death, in that South, the barrier is hard and fast as White cemeteries and Black cemeteries are the norm.

My South is where poor folks, Black and White, have struggled to feed this country. Where those same poor folks, Black and White, send off their sons and daughters to die defending the United States because that is what is done. My South is embodied by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr and Jimmy Carter. It doesn’t pretend. It copes. It strives. It overcomes. Where people endure injustice every single day and never have given up on the promise of America.

That’s my Southern heritage and I’m sick of people trying to take it away from me.

Eliot

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