I keep seeing this apologetic “I’m proud of being from the South but not proud of its history” thing among my acquaintances on social media.
First of all, never feel apologetic about not taking pride in a history of racial oppression.
And secondly, I just don’t get the regional pride thing. I don’t feel any particular emotion about growing up in the South.
I’m proud of my personal upbringing and the lessons instilled by that – which may or may not have some basis in “Southern hospitality.” I don’t know. I think I would be proud of it regardless of where in the U.S. I grew up.
I’m proud of being from a family that often struggled financially but still produced three children who went to college on hard-won scholarships. I’m proud of my parents and siblings. I’m proud of the great memories I have hiking and camping with my family in the Appalachian Mountains where we lived. I’m proud of my military service.
I’m proud of the fact that I basically spent my childhood running wild and largely barefoot through the woods and of that fucking unnaturally large crawfish that scared the bejesus out of me when I found it under a rock in the creek.
I’m proud that somewhere along the line I became someone who always challenges herself to be better.
But the accident of my birth and growth being in a particular region of the country doesn’t mean much except that I have a fondness for BBQ, sweet tea, whiskey and Carolina basketball (and a slight trepidation around crawfish. Also possums.) None of which negates or diminishes the deep love I have for the founding principles of my country and equal treatment and opportunity for all of its citizens – and, in fact, all human beings across the planet.
I’m entirely happy to see the removal of monuments lionizing men who were willing to watch the democratic experiment fail so that some white people could continue to own black people. But then I don’t care that much about monuments or any other object when compared to the lives and comfort and self respect of actual people, regardless of the color of their skin.
Take them all down. Who gives a fuck as long as we all have the same opportunities – assuming we’re equally willing to work hard and be considerate?
Don’t get me wrong – if you’re proud of a place, be proud of a place. But don’t be apologetic for not being proud of a place at the expense of human life and dignity.
And if you care more about a hunk of stone representing a dead guy than human life and dignity, you have serious mental issues. I’m headed to therapy tomorrow. Come with.