The South is Back

May 16, 2010

The American South has often been thought of as the black sheep of the US.  Not just the slow kids but the racists, the fat ones and the closed-minded ones.  This was somewhat correct for quite sometime.  However, this has changed and is soon going to be completely in the past.  The South is slowly moving away from all the attributes listed above and here’s how.

The antebellum South  was behind from the start.  Decades of slavery had created a social and logistical norm.  This differed from the societal structure the existed in the North.  It is for this reason that the civil rights movement was so crucial to the South.  Not just fully welcoming a huge portion of the population into society but catching up to the North.  Finally, a century later, whites and blacks could coexist either happily or through legal requirement. There was a hidden bonus during the civil rights movement as well.  When MLK Jr. took the fight to Chicago he was nearly killed and met quite a bit of resistance.  Let me remind all readers that Chicago is not in the South.  So, therefore, there are racists everywhere, not only in the South.

The next step forward was the end of the Vietnam war.  I’ll make this short.  The US lost the Vietnam war, arguably by our own design, but we lost.  Now, all Americans have lost a war, not just southerners, and Native Americans.  Southerners tend to hold on to things, like the fact that we lost the war, so now that everyone has lost one together.  We’re like the small child who broke a lamp.  Mom dropped a vase, so now we can come out from under the blanket.

The South has historically been slow to adopt technology.  Cotton was king for quite sometime but started as just another crop, not as useful as we know it today.  Finally a northerner creates the cotton gin and we can begin to produce more.  As enterprising as southerners are why did no one make one.  Because the South enjoys the way things are now and reminisces about how things were.  On to my point, computers have been around awhile now.  I guess the south initially thought they may be some fad, or brief folly, like beta films, HD DVD or Ryan Leaf.  But we use them and love them and embrace them.  Last year 5 of the top 10 digital cities in America were fom the South.  Atlanta has previouly been recognized as one of the most advanced cities in the World.  This has something to do with the infrastructure that was installed leading up to the Olympics in 1996 but it still demonstrates advance.

The final reason that the South is able to catch up and become whole again, homogeny.   As I sit here and watch recorded episodes of NBC’s Thursday night line up I am fast forwarding through commercials for southern food.  There are several chains of southern food, it’s mostly fried stuff, but southern fried just the same.  Outside of Boston Market, there really aren’t a lot of regional food chains.  And to date, you can get sweet tea in all 50 states.  You couldn’t do that even two years ago.  Country music has become incredibly popular.  Pervasive to the point that Donald Trump had Trace Atkins on the Apprentice and Oprah speaks about Tim McGraw and Faith Hill like lifelong friends.  Immigration also adds to the homogenization.  Florida is barely a southern state and is known more for it’s latin heritage than being southern at all.    Textile manufacturing in North Carolina is done almost entirely by Hispanics.  This means several things but not the least of which is that there are all sorts of people in the South causing the politics to change.  It’s not just a big group of red states.

The South is no longer the slow, closed-minded, racist, fat kid.  This means two things.  The first, the South has made incredible progress and has broken the negative stereotypes that have defined the region for so long.  The second, the bumper sticker that reads “The South will rise again” is partially correct.  Which means that the slow, closed-minded, racist, fat guy driving the truck is partially correct.  When that guy is right, no one wins.  Maybe we haven’t come that far after all.


3 Responses to “The South is Back”

  1. The South has been back for a while. Not in its racist form, though that still exists albeit in small pockets. But in its, everyone-from-the-Northeast-wants- to-move-to-form.

  2. gfabbott said

    Would you consider this a new generation of carpet baggers or people who genuinely want a slice of the good life?

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