Tag Archives: stereotypes

You Know You’re in the South When….

 

 You order iced tea and your server responds, “Sweet or unsweet?

A stranger strikes up a conversation with you at the produce counter and you don’t look for the manager.

It’s hard to find parking in the church parking lot on Sunday.

The ONLY dressing is cornbread dressing.

 

The  “ballgame” means football.

 

 

Mama is a force to be reckoned with.

 

Men look forward all year to a weekend on a freezing lake in an outrageous contraption hoping to bag a duck or two.

If you visit, you have to eat.

 

And family is forever.

 

 

 

 

Flattened

unknownBlind-sided, thunderstruck, ambushed, stunned,  floored flummoxed.  Just flattened.  By what’s just happened in our country – no, not what  just happened – what just surfaced.

As my genteel cousin put it, “Surely not?”  Exactly.  Surely we are not the people screaming racist epithets, intimidating  children, advocating jail for our  rivals.  We are not the people that believe  silencing those who don’t look like us oreuters-porland-oregon-anti-trump-protestr believe like us will solve our problems.  We are not the people who obsessed on the media’s  24/7 shouting matches, while shaking our heads about the ugly campaign.  We don’t  riot
in the streets after an election and burn the President Elect in effigy.  We can’t be those people.  And yet we are.

Until November 9, I carefully sidestepped awkward social and political conversations.  After all, everyone’s entitled to her/his own opinion, right? And what does it matter really?   Things will go on pretty much as they always have no matter what I do, right?   So why risk damaging a friendship, causing a ruckus. Why be “that” woman?  I really didn’t know what my friends, my neighbors, even some of my family, believed at a core level,  didn’t really want to know, and  didn’t  share my own opinions.   We  coexisted; polite and superficial  strangers under the skin.  So when November 8 happened, we were amazed to find out who was living next door, or even in our own house!

It’s pretty clear   we don’t understand each other.  Perhaps we don’t really understand ourselves.   Hopefully the 2016 election will inspire us to learn more about  ourselves and our government and moreover,  to become involved in our communities.   We can learn to images-1listen respectfully to each other with no other agenda.  We can  have discussions that don’t deteriorate into  shouting matches.    Ideas that challenge us are healthy precisely because they make us uncomfortable.  They stretch us and keep us growing.

On the morning of November 9, I began  a one woman listening campaign. I talked  to neighbors on my morning walk.  I listened to  members of my church, to my family, to  my Facebook and Twitter friends.  And I  heard some surprising things.  Some not easy for me to hear.   But my friendships were not threatened.  In fact, just the opposite.  After all, we all want to have our voices heard.

I  know the fluttering of the butterfly wing in my tiny corner of the ranunculus-aconitifolius-1548312__480universe cannot influence world events.  But just as one vote makes a difference, so does one honest conversation.

So let’s talk!  Leave a comment.    Tell us what the  2016 election meant for you.    Who knows?   We might not be as far apart as we thought.  At the very least, we are sure to learn more about our own beliefs.

 

 

 

 

Native Texan, by Zetta Brown

ZettaB2I was born in a very small North Texas town, and I was born a Negro…which became black…which became Afro/Black/African-American. But while American society came up with new names to call me based on my race, I just considered myself a Texan.

I remember as a child playing in the red dirt of my parent’s home town, eating Moon Pies, drinking grape Nehi or red cream sodas, giant pickles from a pickle jar, salt-and-vinegar chips like a home-grown Southern kid. I think it’s very telling that my earliest memories of living in the South centers around food.

Then we moved to Colorado and snow, which had been a novelty before but became a part of life. It didn’t take me long to realize that I’m not a huge fan of snow. My parents were surprised when we were showed homes in racially diverse neighborhoods. We wouldn’t be “blockbusting” after all.

Years later, circumstances and finances had me moving back to Texas and living with my parents. I was nervous at first, considering the stories my parents told me about growing up in the segregated South, but when I arrived and visited the small hometown my parents grew up in, I was shocked at what I saw.

A small North Texas town more racially integrated than some of the neighborhoods I left behind in Colorado.

After living in Colorado for 17 years, I came back to Texas. After living in Scotland for over seven years—I came back to Texas with my Scottish husband who loves it here.

Why? Because my roots run very deep here, unlike some of the politicians who have represented the state in recent history. Despite these “prominent” citizens, the people of Texas really are friendly, are caring, and do have common sense.

Living in Texas has made me appreciate history and especially the history of my family. History is nothing but a bunch of stories; some of it is fact, some of it is fiction, but it’s all about the story. Texans have been known to tell a tall tale or two.

The South is full of myths, legends, and stereotypes that mix in with reality and creates a wealth of inspiration for stories. But sometimes these elements turn into propaganda—for better or worse.

Is Texas perfect? Hell, no. Ever wondered why there are so many churches in the South? Because there’s a whole lotta sinnin’ goin’ on! You can’t take us at face value. You have to come and experience it for yourself.

So come on down to Texas. You may not have been born here, but like the bumper sticker says, you should get here as soon as you can.

Zetta Brown is an editor and the author of several published short stories and a novel. Her short story “Devil Don’t Want Her” is set in Texas and available as an ebook. She blogs about writing and editing at her Zetta’s Desk blog (zettasdesk.com) and has a featured blog at SheWrites.com called [REALITY CHECK]

Telling Our Stories

 

Real Southern Women Collage
There is a mystery surrounding Southern women.  Many see us as different from other women somehow; mysterious, romantic, and well.. frivolous.   But in fact, we are not so different.  We drink green tea as well as “sweet tea,” we are as likely to stir-fry as deep-fry chicken and most of us haven’t had peach cobbler in years. We go to college. We have the same career challenges, relationship boggles, and unpredictable children as everyone else.  We get the same diseases.

But the stereotype persists.  And I get it; it’s highly entertaining; it’s funny. But it’s untrue. And dangerous. Read the headlines, people. We’ve got to learn to get along.

As Patricia Neely-Dorsey put it (this blog; 3/10/15) “I believe that we can bridge many gaps of misunderstanding across regional, racial, cultural, generational and economic lines by simply telling/sharing our stories.” http://patricianeelydorsey.webs.com I agree, Patricia. Our stories are a powerful agent for understanding and healing. They make us real. So let’s get them out there.

The mission of this blog is to promote understanding of Southern women through their stories.  The first stories were of rural women of my grandmother’s generation.  They were too poor and too tired to write their own stories, so most of what we know about them survives  only in the memories of their grandchildren.  The time to save their stories is running out, and my commitment to them has not diminished.  But writing RealSouthernWomen has given me unexpected opportunities to meet wonderful, stereotype-smashing, real live Southern women with fascinating stories.  Theirs are the authentic voices of today’s Southern woman.  If you listen to them, you will understand who we really are.

The first storyteller is Lissa Brown, a New Jersey native who retired from the fast track in Washington to the mountains of Appalachia. http://www.lissabrownwrites.com Lissa is a real Southern Woman with a fascinating story to tell. She’ll be “guest-blogging” the next post.

 

 

 

 

Patricia Neely-Dorsey: “Goodwill Ambassador” for the South

a a pic 2Patricia Neely-Dorsey shares her love of the South through her poetry. “I believe that we can bridge many gaps of misunderstanding across regional, racial, cultural, generational and economic lines by simply telling/sharing our stories,” she says.  “Through my poetry, I attempt to give a positive glimpse into the Southern way of life.”

In college, her nicknames were Tupelo and Mississippi. She recalls, “Whenever my friends saw me coming, they knew that there would be some type of discourse about Mississippi and the South soon to follow…hoping to clear up their many misconceptions and preconceived notions.”

Patricia grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the red clay hill country.  Following her graduation from Boston University, she worked nearly 20 years in Memphis, Tennessee in the mental health industry. Patricia returned to her hometown in  2007 where she currently lives with  husband James, son Henry, and Miniature Schnauzer, Happy.

Patricia’s two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia- A Life In Poems (2008) and My Magnolia Memories and Musings (2012), are available from Amazon. More information is available on her website, http://www.patricianeelydorsey.webs.com.One of her best-known, “Southern Life” is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

a southern life

The Cameo Project

 

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Many of you have shared with me stories of inspiring women in your lives that shatter the stereotypes of the “Southern Woman.”   Beautiful, capable, and strong women, funny,  eccentric, sometimes a little crazy, and in every size, shape and color.  Such great stories!  And I know there are so many more out there and  I want everyone to hear them!    So, I’m inviting you to be part of my blog by joining the Cameo Project.

Here’s how it works.  Email a one-page double-spaced story about an important Southern Woman in your life to me at sanderlmc@icloud.com, along with a one or two sentence profile of yourself.   I will post them exactly as you send them, so please make sure they are  proofread for spelling,  grammar, and accuracy of facts.    Accompanying pictures must be in the public domain or be something you own.

Submission of your story, profile statement and image serves as your permission for me to post them on my website.  however,  you will retain all copyright to your work.