Southern Exposure


Last week’s turmoil over the Confederate flag triggered a firestorm of commentary, and while people are certainly entitled to their opinions, I was distressed by the amount of vitriol heaped on the South in general. As a native Southerner who grew up in the days of segregation, I’m all too aware of the region’s violent history, as I am aware of race riots, past and ongoing, in other parts of this country. I also know there’s more than enough guilt and blame to go around, and while it’s crucial to learn from the past, we should not be so consumed with evil deeds that we ignore the good ones. There were numerous white Southerners, myself included, who recognized the injustice of segregation and contributed to the civil rights movement. Yes, it’s time to relegate the rebel flag to museums where, as I wrote last week, its significance can be accurately explained, but kindly remember the South stands for many other things.

Every region of America has its own character and traditions, but we feel especially blessed with our food (Creole, Cajun and Southern), music (jazz, blues, Dixieland, zydeco and country) and superb literature with authors way too numerous to mention, along with the sort of hospitality and good manners that are becoming an endangered species. My motto is “Take the best and leave the rest,” but never, ever forget what went down before. In my novel, Unrefined, Sugar, Miss Eulalie says, “It’s time to rescue and rethink our beloved but ignorant, bigoted, white trashy, mayonnaise-slathering, moonshine-swilling, kudzu-swarming, cotton-picking, deep-frying, Bible-beating South.” To those who disagree…well, frankly, I don’t give a damn.

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  1. Jeanie
    Jul 3, 2015

    Hello, You have hit the nail on the head. Thanks for another
    great post.

  2. Judy
    Jul 3, 2015

    I may be a Yankee, but I couldn’t agree more, “Take the best and leave the rest.” And you, my friend, are one of the best.

  3. Scott
    Jul 6, 2015

    As a kid who grew up in the 1970s Midwest and 1980s Southwest, with Southern inspired parents, I knew the South mainly through schooling, upbringing, and further reading and realization as an adult as a place of both high manners as well as looking the other way when certain things took place. Thank you, Michael for putting things in perspective, as most Americans should have already known through their own continuing education, in case they didn’t get it earlier.

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