Saturday, November 07, 2009

What's good/bad about the South?

We're calling out goods/bads about the South as a region:

Positives:

Southerners are storytellers
Humor and style
Agrarian connection to land
Rich connection to history
Strong public college system
Natural resources, mountains-beach, etc.
Weather
Strong family connections
Personal relationships
Patriotism

Negatives
Reseparation in schools
Lack of progressive infrastructure
Deeply ingrained acceptance of violence in all forms
Awareness of history begins in 1860, ends in 1865
Lack of technological infrastructure in rural areas
Low tax base
We're not embarrassed enough about poverty
Lack of commitment to K-12 education
Historical avoidance of talking about "the bad stuff"
General acceptance of low expectations - "Well, we're a poor state."
Lack of regional planning

5 comments:

John Dillard said...

Mary,

I subscribe to the blog, but I find your latest best/worst list just utterly baffling. I grew up in Greenville, SC but have lived in Detroit, NYC, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and DC. Your lists sound like a bunch of cliches that I typically here from one of two groups of people:

A) Self-loathing southerners who have never lived for any significant amount of time outside the south; or

B) Non-southerners who have never actually spent any time here (see "movie producers.")

Let's examine your negatives:

"Reseparation in schools." I assume that this refers to the tendency of kids to hang out with groups of the same race. While I don't like it any more than you do, I can ASSURE you that you see exactly the same thing all over the country. Where I have lived, it was particularly pronounced in Detroit and the DC area -- not the south. The best was probably NYC.

"Progressive infrastructure." How is this confined to the south? I think you're going to see this in any newer metro area, not just southern states. Public transport just works better in more densely populated metro areas like NYC, Boston and DC -- and won't work well in sprawled metros like LA, Atlanta, Dallas, etc.

"Deeply ingrained acceptance of violence." Huh? Have you looked at violent crime stats nationwide? You should.

"Awareness of history begins in 1860, ends in 1865". You may have a point here. :)

"Race" is still black and white, ignoring other ethnicities." Again, this is not confined to the south. You see the same thing in Detroit and Chicago. Personally, I think that southerners have more a trifurcated view rather than bifurcated b/c of the influx of Hispanic culture.

I could go on. The bottom line is that your post frequently falls prey to severe confirming evidence bias(http://thinking.bigskyassociates.com/2007/11/decision-making-traps-part-4-confirming.html).

All that said, I really liked your positives and found many of them quite humorous. You are redeemed by highlighting liver mush (which my wife from Maryland still refuses to eat).

Yours,

John Dillard

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Mr. Dillard on most points.
Two items in particular--"race is still black and white"--I think many of us are very much aware that there is much more to diversity than black and white. But The Observer has been fixated on the black/white issue (witness Mary's column today), and frankly until just recently seemed to be completely unaware of the increasing true diversity (not just racial) in our suburbs. Mary, you in particular, have continued to talk about "white flight" and suburbanites "fear of diversity".
Secondly, the "reseperation in schools" comment--I suspect Mary is referring to the fact that we no longer bus. Yes, our schools are no longer "integrated" through assignment. But it is foolish to claim (or believe) that things are returning to the way they were in the 60's and before. No school system in the country has solved the problem of the achievement gap. We did not solve it with race based busing. Wake County did not solve it with socio-economic based busing.
I personally believe we are making more progress now than ever before. Unfortunately those wedded to the idea that our schools must be populated with a certain prescribed diversity are the ones who have an "avoidance of talking about "the bad stuff"; i.e, the state of our schools and the education provided to African Americans under busing.
I understand the pride this city has for the way in which it integrated its schools. But times change, populations change, and needs change. I think you are the one looking at our school system with "low expectations" and thus are not getting a true picture of what is going on.

Jumper said...

Oh, air-conditioned generation, how removed from reality we are.
Negative of the South:
IT'S HOT AS HELL. It gets so hot the trees will fight over a passing dog...

Anonymous said...

"IT'S HOT AS HELL. It gets so hot the trees will fight over a passing dog..."

True, it is hot here. But the upside is that it never gets very cold.

Cold has the potential and does kill people more than heat; if this nation were to ever have major problems or interruptions with power generation, The South would be better off than everywhere else because our winters are comparatively mild...up North people would easily freeze, but here you cannot and will not freeze. Also, during hot summer days all you have to do is find some good shade and take it easy -- summer days on the front porch are a Southern tradition, perhaps a good addition to Mary's list.

J said...

Jumper - EXCELLENT post!

Progressive infastructure - For those that haven't caught on, beware of the word "progressive." Ultra-liberals believe that everyone that does not agree with them is stupid, so they have tried very hard to replace the word "liberal" with "progressive." So, if you aren't progressive, you're a stupid, backward idiot. They especially like to use "progressive" to counter religion-based arguments.

In this particular case, "progressive" means the government has not sufficiently taxed the citizens enough for them to build things.