People say a lot of shit about the South. They assume southern accents when they want to portray someone that is dumb. They make jokes about the backwardness of the South. Or they romanticize it. They buy Confederate flags as a sign of being a rebel.
But what I want to talk about is the romanticization of the South. I am a white woman born and raised in the South, just so you know where I come from, and I now live among the damn Yankees. I do plenty of romanticizing on my own, I miss the biscuits, the weather, and the landscape. The South is a beautiful place. But there are limits.
The Confederate flag is one. I once stopped at a diner in rural Connecticut, of all places, and the waitress had on a stars and bars belt buckle and I wanted to point out to her that her great great great great grandfather had had a good likelihood of being killed by someone under that flag, but I didn’t. The South, for all its sins, does raise you to have a modicum of manners.
There are people who try to justify the Confederate flag. They have bumper stickers that have a picture of the flag that say “Heritage, not Hate.” While I appreciate their effort, I still think they are wrong. The South is rich with history. But you can’t just embrace one part of it without acknowledging the rest of it. I don’t believe white Southerners should spend all their time wringing their hands and moaning about how guilty they feel. But they should acknowledge that
You’ll see this in writing time and time again, particular in marketing material for tourism. Let’s take Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, as an example. Area bed and breakfasts market themselves as helping the guest experience “Jefferson’s Virginia.” Well that’s pretty much a guarantee that a black person would never stay there (which may be the intent). They would have been slaves in Jefferson’s Virginia.
But I’m assuming you guys are less racist than that. Think about what you’re editing. You have the power to change this. Remind the marketers of their bottom line. There are ways to market an elegant Southern inn without alienating people and thus cutting into profits. Cliches are easy, which is one of the reasons why they’re so easy to fall into them. But you, my dear writers and editors, are smarter than that.
What cliches do you see around you?