my southern identity, and events back home

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts together lately on all that has been going on in my home state in the past month but am still struggling to make it coherent. I started to tack this on to my last post but felt it was going to get long.

It’s a weird feeling to feel so emotionally involved and connected but be geographically far away. It feels uncomfortable to me when people here in Utah talk about the Confederate flag and the Charleston shootings with detachment – that’s my home. That’s where I’m from. I worked in the same building with one of the victims for 3 years when I was a student at CofC. Lord knows how many times my paths crossed with the other victims, it’s not a big city.

Part of it, too, is I have this super weird Southern identity. I have been a bleeding heart liberal since I was old enough to have reasonable political views. I still am. I learned very quickly not to share this with other people in the South, and to keep my opinions to myself, as I was in the minority. I still do this now. But I’ve also developed a deep pride in coming from the South.

When I was younger, I was not completely thrilled to be from South Carolina. I was embarrassed by the conservative politics, the racism, the stereotypes that the rest of the country applies to Southerners. I carefully avoided using the word “y’all” and I never developed much of an accent.

Most of my friends growing up had family from places like California and New Jersey that brought liberal influence into my life. I was also raised in a pretty liberal Presbyterian church that taught inclusiveness and love for all people. I’m not really sure where the liberal economic beliefs came from, but I knew I was a Keynesian the first time I learned what it meant in high school, and it never went away, despite the efforts of most of my Economics professors in college.

Growing up, I always thought I would ‘escape’ to some more liberal part of the country. The Confederate flag has always been a blight for South Carolinians. I was never proud or happy that it flew on the statehouse grounds. But honestly, it never felt like it was going to go anywhere. The only option I ever felt like I had to make political change was to leave the state. The conservatism runs so deep in SC, you have to be incredibly strong willed to try to do anything as a liberal or a Democrat.

I am so happy that the flag has finally been removed, as it should have been, long ago. I wish that this could have happened without the terrible event that sparked the removal. I desperately hope that more open dialogue can take place now, and that there may be lasting affects that open politics to the middle.

I am still proud to be a South Carolinian and always will be. I am a Southern woman who has good manners but still curses a bit, and loves bourbon and fried chicken. But I also believe in values that most of the rest of my beloved state does not, and that’s ok. I can do both. And I will continue to hope and pray for progress in SC and the rest of the country.

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my southern identity, and events back home

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