It all started the summer after my 10th grade year. I went to World Changers in Memphis. Because my home church is Southern Baptist, all of the church camps/mission trips we take tend to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It wasn't uncommon for our youth to receive comments about our "Northern" accents because we were surrounded by Southerners, but one girl took it to a new level. The first day there, I opened my mouth during our Bible study and she said, with her thick Southern drawl, "Oh my God. I didn't know there would be any Yankees here! Who let you come?" or something to that affect. I don't think I've ever been more offended in my life! I seriously thought she was taking it back to Civil war days and saying our country is still divided. Throughout the rest of the week she continued to make comments about me being a "Yankee" and how come I was allowed to come to their church camp?
Then, as I have become more involved in social media- namely blogging and twitter, I have seen numerous things come out of the mouths of Southern ladies that I KNOW aren't meant to be off-putting or condescending, but are truly hurtful if you're not from the South. Now, I'm not talking about taking pride in where you're from, because I certainly pride myself on being from my small town in the country, and I think I was so blessed to grow up where I did. I'm talking about sweeping generalities about people in general that aren't necessarily true. There have been little things that people have tweeted or blogged about that have made me feel like some Southerners truly feel like they're superior to others, but I know they really don't.
I've seen different comments on twitter that have sort of hurt my feelings, but I've tried to let it go as myself being overly sensitive, but then last night I was looking on Pinterest and stumbled on lots of my friends pinning these "Southern Belle Secrets" and while some were really cute, like #107 "Our parents are always mama and daddy, never mom and dad." some are offensive or seem kind of elitist to me. Like, "You believe if you can be ready to leave the house in less than thirty minutes, you probably shouldn't be leaving at all." I mean, seriously? I wouldn't take that comment seriously, but then I see girls tweeting about how they saw someone at Wal-Mart wearing their pajamas and OMG that's the worst thing EVAR! Or, someone dared to put their child in jeans before their first birthday!? They must be TRASH!
Now please, if you're my friend and you remotely think I'm talking about you, PLEASE don't jump to the defensive, because here's the thing- I'm TOTALLY OKAY with having a different opinion than you. It's okay if you don't want to put your child in a pair of jeans while they're still a baby, but my point is, PLEASE don't judge those who do things differently from you, and if you're not judging them, be careful about how you say things.
Another thing I've grown up hearing about is "Southern Hospitality" and "Southern Gentleman". Well, let me tell you, I encountered some of the most rude boys I've ever seen when I was visiting my sister in Georgia. More than once I was struggling to carry too many things at a store or juggle the kids when a man let the door slam in my face. Then, when I flew back to Kansas City and had my hands full, no one offered to help me in Georgia, or after my layover in Texas, but some sweet guy from Kansas City held Deacon for me while I broke down my stroller on the jetway.
I guess what I'm saying is that I no more want to be judged as being impolite or inhospitable because I live in the North as you want to be called racist for living in the South. I just wish that sometimes people would think about things they have said or do say and how it might make other people feel. I know I'm totally guilty of this too, and that's part of why I wanted to write this post. I'm not writing it to make anyone feel bad, or to get any apologies, and I REALLY hope writing it doesn't make anyone angry. My point is that when you say things, it is so important to think about how other people will receive it. I'm a very opinionated person, and I'm okay with expressing my opinions, but it is so important to do it in a way that isn't judgmental or condescending.
Feel free to respectfully discuss this in the comments- I will respond to any I receive. :)