In the United States of America, there are certain states that have earned a certain reputation for themselves. California is the surfing, hipster, movie star capital of the country. Texas is the center for football fanatics, old-school cowboys, and outrageous amounts of BBQ. And Florida is known for having outrageous news headlines, such as, "Florida man arrested for tossing gator into Wendy's" and "Florida man kidnaps a scientist to make his dog immortal."
With all the stereotypes that each state is branded with, the one place that seems to have the most polarizing labels and stereotypes is the American South. Every state that encompasses the American South has, in some ways, earned and, in other ways, have unfairly been given a bad reputation for a long time. Although each person has their own experiences with what the South has to offer, I am writing this to give my point of view on the way of life in the South.
Of course, there is truth to all the wicked aspects of the South.
After the Civil War ended, the Reconstruction Era South wasn't exactly the most ideal place for black people, or any non-white person, to live in, to say the absolute least. Even though the Union tried to establish a more racially equal region, it ultimately resulted in an even more racially charged place than ever before. With the advancement of Jim Crow laws and the rise of the infamous KKK, the South was a very dangerous place to live.
Even in today's world, the South is wrapped up in an endless amount of social turmoil. From the recent growth of white supremacist groups to the growing outrage over the removal of Confederate statues, Southern states are becoming even more divided between the liberal left and the conservative right than ever before. The news certain paints this area of the world as the same hotbed of racism and bigotry that it was before equal rights became a legal requirement in this country. Even I would say that there are certain parts of the South that most definitely would go today.
Despite the bad, there is a lot of good that comes from the South
I know the phrase "Southern hospitality" may have lost its value to many people in the past several years, but to me the age-old saying still holds true. When people look at the news about all of the hostility that occurs in the South, they immediately perceive it as a problem that applies to every city in every town in the South. I am here to say that that notion is the furthest thing from the truth. Just like any place in the world, there are the bad people that perpetuate that harmful stereotypes, and there are the genuinely good people that try to live beyond the unfair image that others have placed on them.
While trying to figure out what to write for this article, I thought about all that my grandparents experienced while spending their whole lives in the American South. My grandfather was born in raised in Kentucky and my grandmother was raised in Alabama, and they both most certainly have experienced the notorious bigotry of the South. However, both will never stop supporting the belief that people in the South are some of the most genuine people they've come across in their life. People that I have met the South, both white and black, have also been some of the nicest people I have encountered, and certainly upon the truth that not all Southerners are what we usually see on the news. Many parts of Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, and other southern states are populated with people who dedicate themselves to upholding the virtuous ideals of the South and stand for the values of true Sothern hospitality.
With America being the extremely diverse country that it is, there are obviously going to be some parts that are viewed in a certain light. Sometimes this light can be negative, and rightly so, but there some places where the minority of people seem to dictate the reputation of the whole state. This is absolutely true when it comes to the American South.