Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is Southern Culture?

Southern culture is learned at the knees of our grandparents. At least, for me it was. This isn't something that you can learn from a textbook. To be fully appreciated the Southern culture must be experienced.

From the rephrasing of words or the mention of events, it is the subtleties that get you in Southern Culture. If you are southern an "aint" isn't something that crawls on the ground. It's the relative of your mom or dad. It's as easy as an invisible neon sign that says "I'm Not Local" or "I live in Knox County" if you use the term "Straw Plains" instead of the very proper "Strawberry Plains."

It's knowing that The War is the War of Northern Aggression. Southern people might call it the Civil War if there had been anything civil about it.

If you're not from here then you don't get Southern Culture. You probably also don't know what poke greens are or even wilted salad. But that's ok. You're forgiven because you are in the Bible Belt and that's what we do. We welcome others, offer our best hospitality and share our mess of broken beans and our chow-chow.

Southern Culture understands that if your great granddaddy rode a horse home after the war it was because he sided with the Union. It also means that you know the "walk" in Alabama was a march that would (thankfully) change the course of history.

But Southern Culture also means standing for what you believe in - even if you stand alone. It means loving thy neighbor with bowls of soup or hominy after an illness or death. It means taking care of family and showing respect. That means going to church and taking your hat off in a building.

Southern Culture also means understanding the interconnectedness of the many ethnicities that are found in the South. Southern states, both then and now, are a blending of cultural diversity. Yes, it was antebellum plantation houses. But it is also Native American heritage through the richness of the Cherokee Indians and other tribes in the area. It's also African-American, Caribbean, Jamaican, Italian, Chinese, European American and more.

Most of all, Southern Culture means having pride in your work and in a job well done while learning the hard lessons of the past and looking forward to a good future, filled with hope and promise - for everyone.

For more about Southern Culture check out these links:

Southern Culture - An Understanding from a Southerner
Manners
Southern Hospitality