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Southern politics take a note from southern hospitality

by Breonnah Colon - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Jan 30th 2018 08:00 pm

olitics is one of those words that make the brain go numb; no one really wants to get into what legislation means or what it looks like when it’s put into place. Yet, politics is ultimately what runs the country. These laws and pieces of legislation impact thousands of people across the country. Therefore, when there’s a shift in political views from the government either on a federal or state level, the impacts are explicit. That’s exactly what’s starting to take place in the Southern  United States.

Beyond the typical “southern hospitality” expectations, which include mannerisms such as exceptional homemade meals, charm and tight-knit communities, according to southernliving.com, the American South is viewed as  more traditional than most of the country. For better or worse, depending on your personal beliefs, the south is where Old Fashioned American customs exist; customs that include limiting the rights of same-sex couples so that they are unable to adopt children, or allowing businesses to refuse working with or for same-sex couples based on their religious backgrounds. 

Living in a place up north, especially in New York, which is widely viewed as a very liberal state, even historically, the views of the South might seem not only out of touch with our current society, but also very harsh. It is not uncommon for New Yorkers to speak about the South in belittling tones. Comments like "the South is backwards” or “stuck in the past” are common to come across. 

Events like the Unite the Right March in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as commonplace situations such as bigotry being classified as just another aspect of southern culture, tend to be the culprits behind such comments. Historical milestones such as the American Civil War also play a role in this view of the South. Situations such as what happened to Keaton Jones this past December show how strongly and negatively views about the south are upheld today. Jones went viral after he was recorded crying hysterically due to bullying. A few weeks after many public figures and celebrities gave support to Jones and his family, it was revealed the family held onto bigoted views and supported the conservative flag proudly.

With all the situations and circumstances circling the South, it may seem like the lower states are stuck in the past, yet a New York Times article argues  otherwise. Whereas southern politicians were actively taking action against social perspectives or progress they viewed as going against their values in the past, they have become less outspoken and more subdued on hot-button issues. There is no clear reason why this shift is taking place; however, speculators presume lawmakers are unwilling to deal with either backlash from corporations or general divisiveness within the states in general. Instead, politicians are focusing more on “less contentious issues,” as the article explains.

This is exciting, but more importantly, crucial for the improvement of many states. Now, before us northerners begin to raise our noses and snort at the late-blooming south, we should take care to remember that our country as a whole is not as progressive as even New Yorkers would like to think it is. This last year with our new president shows us this fact very clearly. Just because a few states have permitted same-sex marriage or pushed for amendments to laws that condemned discrimination once upon a time, doesn’t mean we are any more high and mighty than any other state. 

In fact, it shows just how little even we as a “progressive” state have accomplished.  Rather than sit and compare or complain about what others are not doing enough of, it would work in our benefit to continue pushing for change on our side, as well as encourage change taking place elsewhere, because our whole country still has a lot of work to do. The South may seem like another world, but in reality, it’s just another part of the U.S. and all change is positive. As the famous proverb goes, “slow progress is still progress.”

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