The Why: In Which I Defend Living In The South

Yesterday on Rachel Maddow’s blog, there was a question to all “blue dots.” Why do you stay in red states and do you ever want to leave? The question struck right at the issue most on my mind since the reelection of the President. It seems that writers (particularly from the Northeast) publish article after article along the lines of “What is wrong with the South?” Or, “Go Ahead And Secede Already.” They have been popping up like Honey Boo Boo references. Most of them are almost gleeful at the thought of dumping the South. (Because this is what Lincoln wanted ?!?)

Each time I see these articles, I get a little more angry. It would be dishonest to say that this isn’t a longstanding peeve for me. Bill Maher is a perpetual offender. The Simpsons, the media (old & new) and even my beloved Jon Stewart all take shots at the South regularly.

Now, let me be crystal clear. I get angry at all the hatred, bigotry and racism in the South every day of my life. But the jabs from other progressives are particularly hurtful. It would seem that with many red states trending purple (Virginia, North Carolina and Texas and Georgia soon enough) that this might be counter intuitive to winning elections, but the South is a dependable punchline nonetheless.

As I read through the comments of the Maddow blog post, a few themes began to emerge. There are two main groups of “blue dots.” There are those, like myself who stay because we feel an obligation, a connection and/or are immersed in activism. However, there were many more who expressed a desire to leave and be done with the whole struggle. I sympathize with those so isolated in their own communities. It must also be said without reservation, that I stay as a white, married woman with children. Even though I am not religious and a vocal advocate for equality, my circumstance is much more comfortable than for many in the lgbtqai community and for people of color. My friends in these communities have sometimes left because their safety was at risk and because no one deserves to be surrounded by people who hate them. I get this. I support these friends because I know what it means to stand out in any way in communities of cultural lag.

I left the Southeast for the first time for Grad School at Drew University in the early 1990′s. Previously, I had grown up all over the region because my father was a Baptist preacher. I was given a scholarship to Drew (one of two a year) due to my “minority status,” as Appalachian. I never once thought of myself this way, although my heritage and culture were and are very dear to me. It was a bizarre experience. By the end of my first semester, I went to my mentor determined to withdraw and head South. She was from Texas and told me she experienced a similar dislocation when first up North. She suggested I find a place to eat food I liked (had to go to Harlem for that), make friends with other immigrants and buy cowboy boots. In essence, she told me if people were making assumptions about my intelligence, then I should at least make them feel uncomfortable about it. I took her advice and finished the degree. Without a doubt, it was the loneliest time of my life.

Since my return, the South has changed in many ways, particularly in the cities. And like everywhere else in the world, the cities are where the growth is occurring. People are less religious, more open with regard to sexuality, gender and race and less tolerant of intolerance. Anyone who read demographic information from the election knows this is happening all over the country. The Millennials are different. Teaching in colleges the last decade, it has been no surprise to me the ways in which this generation differs from previous ones. In my Diversity class, I survey students the first day about many aspects of their socialization. Less than a third in any class I’ve taught in six years still attend the religious services they grew up with–and I live under the buckle of the Bible Belt. They are consistently more liberal about social issues. I didn’t need Pew to know this, although it is always good to have statistical evidence to back anecdotal information. There is also a rapidly growing Hispanic population.

This trend is bigger than one region, no doubt. But I believe it is also because there are many of us who have refused to abandon our own culture; the good (you are welcome for almost all modern music) and the bad (the racism, homophobia, etc.). If we all left, there would be no counter to ever pervasive right-wing yammer–on the radio, in the office and in the State Legislature. Young people raised here need to know that you can embrace where you come from and redefine it. Not so young people need to know it is okay to buck tradition, disobey the Church, distance themselves from the darker opinions of the past. Bottom line: We progressives are desperately needed.

Please don’t think this is a martyr move. I love living below the Mason-Dixon for many reasons. Here is a short list:

  • My family (99%) of them are still here. I see them several times a year…cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relatives. Family is still a high priority here.  (It was rightly pointed out to me that this sentence is both bone-headed and inaccurate. Of course people the world over value their families.)  We don’t scatter as much as other Americans.
  • Way of life. One reason I hated living up North so vehemently was because it is all about work. We value leisure here. That is why we sit on porches.
  • Friendliness. I know this freaks people out at times and others think it is all a show. For me, banter with strangers makes society less hostile. Southern people aren’t known for their hospitality for nothing.
  • The land. Whether it is the beach, the mountains or the foothills–many of our ancestors came here for fertile land and freedom. My people are from Oconee County, South Carolina, which borders North Carolina and Georgia. When I see the Smokies, I breathe deeper and feel the power of the landscape each and every time.
  • Culture. Encompassing music, food and all else this word conjures. If I want to hear a banjo, I only have to drive a few miles. And if I want good biscuits and tea that is sweet, there is a meat and three down the road.
  • Faith. I sincerely believe that things are and will continue to change in the region. It is my hope that we can hold on to some of the aspects that distinguish us and still continue to evolve on social and religious issues. It may take longer than I want it to. It will surely take longer if me and all my fellow liberals flee and join the sneering ranks.

Perhaps it’d be a quicker evolution if our progressive peers would dial back the haughtiness. Each time people from the South are portrayed as dumb, inbred, more racist than all other Americans, fat, lazy, and backward, it makes it that much harder to change opinions. These stereotypes have long lives and only nurse resentments from another time in history. Recognize that both historically and presently, the United States is not all it can be without the South. Lincoln did.

Yes, we use more resources from the Federal government and also like to complain about it. Yes, we have a persistent strain of racism in our history and in 2013. Yes, we speak a different dialect. Yes, our students’ test scores are lower. Yes, we have more poverty. Yes, we are more overweight because we REALLY like butter. But, we did give you rock n’ roll, blues and country music. We are teaching some of you how to relax (because you keep coming here to retire). We can claim The Highlander Center, Molly Ivins and former President Carter. And as poor Notre Dame found out, we give you kick ass football.

The South contributes a lot to the country. We are not a lost cause. And to Stewart et al: feel free to mock our politicians mercilessly. Most of them deserve it. Just leave the rest of us out of it…we need to keep our anger focused on injustice.

** Link to Maddow Blog post from 1/17/13: http://on.msnbc.com/Sef4bE

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About Kristen Chapman

Loosely connected facts: Former Social Worker. Lifelong politico. Social media junkie. Poet. Performer. Storyteller. Decade teaching in Higher Ed. Master's Degree in Theology. Married to an Irishman. 3 darling kiddos. Preacher's kid. Content creation in digital marketing. Exuberant about Nashville. Appalachian. Music maker. Music devour-er. ENTP. Bohemian. Geeky. Obsessed with thrift stores and all things vintage. Lover of species.

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171 Comments on “The Why: In Which I Defend Living In The South”

  1. rpsk1vt Says:

    I find all of these perspectives of North and South enlightening. As a part-time musician and fan of blues, jazz, old rock ‘n roll, Motown and older Country music (circa 1950s – 1970s), I am certainly well aware of the South’s contribution to American music, from both the black and white perspectives.

    I grew up very near Detroit, which most people think of as a “northern” city. But in some ways, Detroit is a microcosm of the South, in that poor whites and poor blacks both came north to work for GM, Ford, Chrysler and other manufacturing companies in the 1940s – 1960s. That is probably why Detroit is known as such a music city (not quite a Nashville or New Orleans, but Detroit has its share of jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock).

    I live in Vermont now. When VT became a state in 1791, VT had the first state constitution to ban slavery. Slavery was banned again in VT state law in 1858. Ironically though, even today, Vermont is still one of the whitest states in the U.S.

    Both sides of my family came to the America well after the Civil War (1890s and 1946). I often shake my head and wonder if our country can ever get past the divisions of North / South, white / black, rich / poor. A lot of us who “look” white descended from people who were not here before and during the Civil War. I can only speak for myself, but it is like being a spectator to a debate which doesn’t include those who immigrated after 1865. It’s like watching the Israelis and Palestinians in never-ending conflict. Luckily, here in America, people fight mostly via talk radio, cable TV, Twitter and election campaign ads, although there is always the chance for something much more scary, which is why we need to work this out (eventually, I hope).

    America has so much potential, but these long-held divisions continue to plague our country and hold us back. I don’t know what the answer is. But I think that maybe food and music can be part of it. Whether you live in the north or south, if you meet someone who moved to your state from the other direction, try to get to know them. People like to eat and enjoy music. Try to find some common ground there.

    BTW, I was in Only, TN this past summer, at Victor Wooten’s Music/Nature Camp. It was a great week. Amazingly great food (for a music camp) and great music, students and musician faculty members! I truly was a great mixture of races and cultures together enjoying the music and nature!

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Love this post…I think food and music and art are absolutely key. There are avenues to the heart that only creative expressions can forge.

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      • Alan Asnen Says:

        I sit here listening to Chopin Etudes. This is something anyone can do anywhere. I am doing it in Lexington TN on a quiet Saturday afternoon, a cool, sunny day a short time before my wife and I go outside for a walk through a subdivision built around a lake, a large piece of land that used to be two enormous farms. This type of subdivision exists in New York, in Iowa, in California, all over the country (indeed, I’ve just been reading in The Nation about similar places in Cairo and my wife is reading a Jo Nesbo novel about such places in Australia, I think). And I imagine there are people listening to Chopin Etudes, or Brahms concertos, awaiting their afternoon or evening walk. We carry our lives with us, whatever they may be, wherever we are, and no matter what it is that brings us to where we are.

        I have now spent more of my life in The South than in any other place, even in the sum of all other places, although I am definitely still not a Southerner. I came here unwillingly, at first, dragged here in fact by my ex-wife who–in hindsight, on a whim–brought me and our unborn child to Columbia, SC, so she could study for a Doctoral Degree she didn’t really want. And I ended up abandoned there. But I made a choice to make my life there, and it was an easy place to do so, South or otherwise, because it was the State Capitol and a genuine “college town.” And I went back to school. It was an easy transition into “Southern Living” when you have friends and teachers from all over the world–including the South. I sold beer at the local AA baseball stadium every summer while working my way through school and was the English tutor for many of the undergrad athletes during the Fall and Winter. And I tried to “grok” the Southern manner, knowing all the while I would never be a Southerner.

        I’d had a similar experience. I was born and raised in New York City. I left when I was twenty for San Francisco and brother, did I get a social whipping there, day by day, hour by hour, whenever I opened my mouth. I grew up mostly on the Lower East Side where it was de rigueur to inflect one’s speech with colorful adjectives, usually between each noun. I soon found out that this was not the normal way one communicated in general company in The City By the Bay (a place that I feel in love with BTW, and would give my left arm and leg to move back to some day…something that, alas, will not be possible). It took a while. Perhaps, just as I was being forced to leave by circumstances, I was becoming a Californian. But that was natural. Half the people in California–even more at times–are not from California. Native Californians are defined as people who’ve been there more than ten years. I was getting it. But then Susan wanted to go to THE USC (Univ of South Carolina) and this coincided with a very important and very nasty political occurrence, the passage of Proposition 13, which was the beginning of the Republican anti-tax movement. The $500 monthly rent we were paying on our spacious one bedroom apartment was changing: no longer an apartment, but a condominium, the cost to us would be $1.2 million, with a monthly “maintenance fee” of $800. This was about to become the norm throughout the state as real estate values skyrocketed when property taxes suddenly were frozen.

        I go through all this detail for good reasons (IMO) before engaging in this “argument” because I think some people have skirted some important points and others missed them entirely, especially in regard to why “Northerners” come to and stay in the South. Yes, it is warmer. Yes, it has its own peculiar cultural charms that tend, most of the time, to negate its own peculiar cultural nastiness. But I’ll bet that a large reason is that they like the low cost of living and especially the low property taxes and the absence of an income tax on wages. Though it makes me sound so utterly Northern (i.e.: crass) to put things in purely economic terms.

        I have been “living” on SSDI for several years now, substantially supplemented by Medicare. My wife has just started her journey into the world of the elderly, taking early retirement from teaching. Her social security check is actually less than mine (!!) and she is still three years away from Medicare benefits. Tennessee is one of the few states where we can manage to get by (and just barely) living in our own home with some actual creature comforts (like a computer to write long memoirs that no one will read, and the ability to buy and listen to Chopin Etudes once in a while and books by Jo Nesbo). If we wanted to move to San Francisco, say, we would be laughed at by even the most spiritually minded California real estate agent. Our house and the two lots of property we own–even if we could sell them–would not even buy a fraction of a downpayment for a house in The City.

        My wife was born in Jackson TN. Her parents were members of society in that community when it was growing after WWII. They had money and every advantage white people shared in West Tennessee. They were more liberal than some; their children went to public schools, but those schools were still segregated at the time. Their son went to Vanderbuilt. Their daughter went to a fancy liberal arts college in Florida, another graduate school in Denver, another in Vermont, and then back to Vandy before settling back in Jackson with a “worldy” view that she brought to civil service and teaching. She became the role model for the “Progressive Southerner.”

        I worked with Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg (the name-dropping will continue, abbreviated) and others in New York as I was growing up trying to be a writer and/or a painter. In San Francisco I worked for Tom Hayden’s Senate campaign, because I had known him while we were both in SDS in NYC. In SC I studied under and worked for Don Fowler, on and off again Chair of both the state and national Democratic Party (he almost failed me once when I wrote a paper suggesting that Ralph Nader would make a good President, this when Bill Clinton was spending his first term in the White House).

        When I arrived in Jackson to teach at Lane College I thought my career–my third or fourth, actually–was off to a magnificent start, magnificent and honorable in the purest sense. That feeling lasted an entire day. The first half of the day, looking for an apartment, I was getting ready to sign the lease on a decent place in North Jackson when the rental agent asked me where I worked. I told him I was going to teach at Lane. He pulled that piece of paper away from me so fast I almost got a paper cut. “I’m sorry,” he said, as smoothly as an actor in an Oscar Wilde comedy. “I completely forgot that this apartment had already been rented, and it was the last one we had open. But I’ll keep this information on file. Good luck.” And bye-bye. The second half of the day was even better. An unofficial convocation where, at one point, new teachers were greeted with the usual folderol. Until came the phrase, “and most of the new white teachers will be gone at the end of the year.”

        I was lucky. I found other jobs. Some good, some not. The South is not alone in being a bad place to teach these days. Standards are crumbling everywhere.

        I guess I’ve now meandered through the details of my personal history enough to have provided the subjective data required to put forward my own POV on the controversy here. If you are from The North and can stand the climate–and that is always a matter of personal perception and/or medical needs (and, holy mackerel, who knows what different parts of The South are going to be like in the years ahead due to global climate change); if you can put up with the ever decreasing bigotry and KKK influence (I don’t care what anyone says about Northern bigotry, it has never been as ORGANIZED as it has been and still is in The South); if you can deal with the narrow-mindedness that is disappearing by nano-millimeters in some quarters (partially because the right-wing mindset is so ingrained here and has been for so long); if you can put up with being the butt of jokes because you prefer to be vegan or at least eat a healthy diet (and, if you don’t have a good sense of humor, what kind of a Northerner are you, anyway?); if you can be polite about being the first one to the movie theater on Sunday morning, walking out while all your neighbors are walking in and staring at you with THAT look, then you should be able to put up with life in The South without complaining about it.

        And, more to the point, if you are politically active, you shouldn’t have anything to complain about because you are doing something about it. There’s an old saying: If you don’t vote, you have nothing to complain about. If you massage that a bit you should understand what I’m getting at, here.

        There’s also something else that Southerner’s don’t understand. I have had to learn this lesson the hard way, mostly from my wife and late mother-in-law. Northerners like to complain and argue. In general terms, apparently Southerners…not so much. I can understand, then, why so many Northerners in the South complain, a lot. They are Northerners, for one thing, and it is what they do. Then, they mostly aren’t engaged, or, if as KCGibbons argues, they are Progressives, they are very much engaged (as the French would say, they are engagE) and can only see the end of what they want, not being very concerned about the means they use (Progressives don’t care about means because they trust themselves to be using the most moral means–I know this because I consider myself to be a Progressive…it is one of many of our flaws). They will ream you (with words and peaceful protests) until you have a second orifice to ream, if that’s what it takes to get your attention, and in The South, I’m sorry to say, sometimes that is what it takes to get the attention of many Southerners.

        And it’s not just Southerners (and here, KCGibbons, you should know our sweet Jon Stewart is very consistent). It is true of Kansans and Montanans and Idahoans and Oregonians and Oklahomans and Mainers and Iowans and etc., etc.

        I have one last thing to say (I thought I heard a cheer, but that would mean someone is still reading…). KCG: You really don’t believe your own argument 100%. You’re really a little bit on the side of the folks you’re calling out. Because you know that they are just a little right in their own, nasty, stubborn, obnoxious, paltry way. Because they really are telling a teensy-weensy bit of truth. And the truth does hurt.

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      • kchapmangibbons Says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You make many excellent points. My only quibble is that I absolutely believe my own argument or I wouldn’t stay here. My body is 100% here, as is my work and my soul.

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  2. Joyce Says:

    I’m from Connecticut but have lived in the South for 25 years. Sometimes I miss New England sorely. But this just feels so much like home, for all the reasons you cite.

    Not long after 9/11/01, my husband and I were driving behind a pickup truck with a mural taking up its whole back window. The image was of Uncle Sam, sleeve rolled up and muscle flexed. I turned to my husband and said “I am SO SICK of living in the South,” and for a while I actively rallied to have us move somewhere else. But then we had kids, and you know how that goes. They need their families, and for all our problems, this really is a very nice place to raise a family.

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  3. Jenny Says:

    I enjoyed this post a lot. I am mostly a creature of the Northeast but I did live in the South for almost one year, and I’ve traveled to many places in the South for work/pleasure. My recent obsession is with the Pacific Northwest for its environmentalism and laid back culture (compared to Northeast). This is a very large country and I have witnessed terrible racism in Mass. as well as in western NYS and in a small town in Ga. No state in this country is immune from pockets of provincialism and racism. I do agree 100% with you that the Northeast (esp urban centers here) can be all about Work, Money, and Commerce. This attitude can wear you out and make you sick!

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  4. misssmithofthedead Says:

    I really appreciate that you’ve said this and how eloquently you said it. As an Iowan who spent several years in Mississippi, I often feel extreme irritation over this issue. Every state has its issues, but as you said, the South is the dependable punchline (the Midwest is often a coastal punchline as well, especially for people who choose not to be aware that Iowa and Ohio are two different states unless it’s an election year). It gets old trying to defend areas that you care deeply about to people who would rather remain ignorant for the sake of joke-making possibilities than recognize that every place has value and people who are like you or them and trying to make a go of it despite the idiosyncrasies of living in a place generally considered to be “bad.” Every online story about Mississippi ends up with a comment along the lines of “why would anyone want to live there?” and while I had some qualms with living there, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I spend most of my vacation time going back to visit friends who continue to live there. On purpose. Anyway, thanks for this post.

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words. This has been bugging me for over 20 years and I finally felt like I needed to out myself as a Liberal who loves living in the South…even if it is blood red.

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  5. amelie88 Says:

    It’s kind of odd–I’ve noticed in every country I’ve lived in (US, France, and Spain), northerners are said to be more “closed off” and “cold” and keep to themselves while the southerners are considered more “friendly” and “open.” In all three countries, southerners get made fun of because of their accent, but they are cooler because they take their time, don’t rush, and value leisure above all else. I’m wondering if this is typical of every country?

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Hmmm. Good question. Gonna let that one marinate.

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    • retromorphosist Says:

      except for the UK, where its the other way around

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    • hcfbutton Says:

      It’s true in Canada, though it tends to be our coasts (Newfies for accents and Vancouverites for granola and hippies). However, Toronto (Ontario) is universally despised by the rest of Canada. I hated to defend it when I lived in Vancouver.

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    • entitledmillennial Says:

      I think this is just the nature or Urban vs Rural differences. Yes the South has cities and the Northeast has rural parts to it, but we’re mostly thinking NYC (where I’m from), Boston, Philly, and DC when we talk about the Northeast and we’re mostly thinking rural, suburban, and small city-towns, and lots and lots of forest when we think of the South.

      I think it’s undeniable that there are differences between city-dwellers vs rural-folks but the differences are becoming a bit less pronounced because of our globalized world and the ubiquity and growth of national cable news.

      I, as a proud Brooklynite like to hold onto my identity as someone born and bred in that area as Big Blue Dot Ya’ll holds onto hers as an Appalachian and Southerner. It has become even more important to hold onto my identity since I’ve lived in the South for the past 4 years and realized it isn’t for me at all (except for having a car, I like to take my Mustang out for a spin).

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    • asnen Says:

      Mostly, yes, in my own experience, in all the countries and regions I am aware of, either by visiting myself, or by hearing about the experiences of others.

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  6. John Hric Says:

    K can I start with a resounding and overall YES ? The ultra conservative politics has the tail wagging more than the conservative dog. It is even affecting the liberal dog with its wag. Politics sadly is a combination of both hopes and fears. And it is not always shared let alone justly. But we can bring the focus back to sharing and justice. It will continue to be best when all people, geographically, conservative, liberal, urban, country, every shade of gender, color, ethnicity, and race are allowed to fairly participate. When we are all in the game we have a chance at making better, even if somewhat slower choices.

    PS – the Appalachians are wide ranging and include Ohio among other states in their scope. And we have all sorts of Ohio politicians that deserve their fair share of ridicule. Both sides of the fence. So to counter RM’s argument, flee to where ? I think I prefer your choice. Lets speak out against injustice right where each of us happens to be.

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  7. Jean Says:

    Now I’m certain that some Americans have the wrong ideas about Canadians and refuse to live that “Communist/socialist”, anti-gun, etc. country. I make no apologies except I like my country where I was born and have lived all my life…Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.

    And horrors, our city mayor is Muslim, but university educated at Harvard for his MBA. Alberta is considered more “redneck” and did you know has Canada’s largest Mormon population, yet there’s enough of us that don’t fit any of these categories/beliefs. I’m certain the South has many, many parallel experiences.

    Cheers. Just write intelligently and help your local fellows understand a much bigger world out there. Ongoing reminders…

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    • Sadie Grace Says:

      It’s not that most of her local fellows don’t understand “a much bigger world out there”, it’s just that they don’t feel the need to change who they are and what they believe to conform to that world. They dare to be true to the values they grew up with, many of which used to be the norm in other places as well; and they don’t apologize for standing on those values. And contrary to how the media portrays the south, most southerners I know are fairly tolerant of others and allow them to have their own opinions. They just want the same respect. As with all things everywhere, the media usually tends to give a biased view based on the few who are the extreme. Of course maybe I’m just lucky to live in a part of the south where faith still matters and loving your brother as yourself is still the law to live by. And if your neighbor has a lifestyle that differs from your opinions, you still love him anyway and treat him with respect.

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  8. thewantonwife Says:

    Mr. Wanton here:

    “Perhaps it’d be a quicker evolution if our progressive peers would dial back the haughtiness.”

    It is ironic that the progressive peers are using the same mental constructs used by racists and bigots to judge the south. Sloppy thinking and judgementalism are poor choice regardless of the subject.

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  9. suelange Says:

    Fantastic post. Yes, the U.S. needs the south. Some of our best culture came and comes from the south. New Orleans is in the south. That alone is a jewel in our crown. Aside from that, though, the southern sensibility teaches the north how to live well.

    Keep up the good work!

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  10. riotise Says:

    hello, i loved your post. i have two comments about this. 1) it’s ironic, in a time when we are working toward progress and equality, that any group (liberal, conservative, this, or that) would promote dualism and polarity. isn’t this type of demarcation what perpetuates the idea of “us” and “them”–whether it’s races, religions, communities, ways of life? 2) while i have lived in CA for almost my entire life and enjoyed the vibrancy and openness of the west, my father attended ole miss (as an immigrant, 30 years ago, no less).

    i love the south and cherish each visit. it’s true that it’s been less open to social change in many ways (and progress is still made day by day), however, that does not diminish the culture and richness of the region. american icons and artists–from writers to musicians–and significant cultural influences originate(d) from the south. i agree with you regarding the southern approach and pace of life. it’s too bad that otherwise intelligent people in the media hold this perspective and choose to lump and dismiss entire groups. just as it’s enraging to discriminate due to sexual orientation or ethnic background–it is the same to do so from the liberal point of view (eg toward geographic regions, conservative viewpoints, traditional lifestyles)–here in LA, there is almost judgment if a women decides to put her family before her career. btw – i’m fairly liberal. this isn’t about politics but about humanity.

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful post. I hope for the day when all choices (that don’t cause harm) are accepted and valued.

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      • riotise Says:

        i hope so as well. perhaps the best way we can make a difference is through compassionate and meaningful lives. i truly admire when people have the courage to live the life that’s truly right for them. cheers.

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  11. Madge Madigan Says:

    I’m was born and raised in NY state. I’ve lived in a few other parts of the country from Maine to Colorado to North Carolina. No one could figure out why I like NY. I love it and I moved back 6 years ago. It’s funny how people are different and like what they like. You feel comfortable where you feel comfortable. :)

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  12. william wallace Says:

    Its just the stage of development that one being at
    where one pointing to the south north east or west.

    Such the material realm where one need a identity.

    Yet eventually ones understanding as experience
    then being not of the north south east or west but
    stretches within /without unto the infinity & beyond.

    I added beyond the infinity / as a attempt at a joke.

    How’s one to go beyond north & south east & west
    to that of experiencing and understanding infinity ?.

    The answers meditation in one turning the senses
    inward in a unfolding of the spiritual self / such but
    the purpose of the creation as a human form that
    one can understand / experience the very ultimate.

    All are at various stages in their development / I’d
    elaborate on such understanding in regard to life
    as one’s previous lives / as to their present stage
    of development but it w’ould take some wording &
    not so sure many ready for such understandings
    thus I’ll stick to passing basic information as unto
    how one can venture into the stage of meditation.

    Throughout history of humanity there be spiritual
    teachers / among all teachers (always) being the
    “Teacher of Teachers” the teacher of teachers is
    a guide as aid when one reaches such the stage
    in development where their / future development
    be that meditation is then required is a vital need.

    The present time the “Teacher of Teacher” being
    Prem Rawat / Prem has dedicated his life as aid &
    guide to those having reached such stage where
    meditation required for their ongoing development.

    On pc seach put (words of peace) or put (words of
    peace global) on site a selection of videos in which
    Prem explains meditation / as a open invitation he
    will guide as aid unto all whom seek the knowledge
    of the true spiritual self / where via meditation one
    in gainingg such practical spiritual experience / it
    t’will grant a clarity of understanding beyond words.

    PS / in Prem one finding the most gentlest of souls
    the kindest most humblest of humanity thus one in
    the best of company in the “Teacher of Teachers”.

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  13. Clair Betters Says:

    I simply want to mention I am new to blogs and definitely savored you’re website. Almost certainly I’m going to bookmark your blog . You actually have wonderful article content. Many thanks for sharing your web page.

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  14. lindaricke Says:

    I was born in the Midwest and have lived the vast majority of my life in the South. I am definitely a Southerner by choice. There are backward, racist, homophobic people everywhere. I agree that the media choose to portray us as dumb Southern rednecks. Let them hold ever so tightly to their own prejudices and misguided superiority. If they all came here, “here” wouldn’t be any different from “there.”
    I do want to ask why you feel that religion is in the same group with racism, overweight people, low test scores, etc?

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      I don’t think they are one and the same. Data just shows that people who attend church regularly also tend to have a more Conservative (in the political & modern sense of the word) worldview and vote Republican. My own experience growing up in the Church is that although there is surface “acceptance” of difference, I was taught that pretty much everyone who wasn’t a devout Protestant was going to burn in hell.

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  15. renmi2000write Says:

    This was original and important. I was born in a rather unenlightened area of the North. When I was in college I was quite liberal. I was angry at all the racism, sexism, narrow-mindedness. But I saw much of it change. In fact, some of the solutions have brought there own problems. Now I am angry about those problems. But wait!
    Nothing is perfect. This world is a constant flux of good and bad. No generation or area of the country has a lock on goodness. Anyone who thinks otherwise is narrow minded in a different way. (My flog is Blogging While Independent.)

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll check out your blog!

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    • william wallace Says:

      Your right of course (nothing is imperfect) that being the purpose of creation
      to turn the imperfect the nothing into somfink / by one’s understanding one’s
      experience of the power of creation as is & will always be. Some calling such
      power God /some having even invented a fantasy that God has a Son called
      Jesus / that God & Jesus live in a place called heaven far beyond the clouds.

      The people’s by all means try answer the question of life / as that of creation.

      Has it a purpose ?. Is it all just random events taking place ?. There a million
      questions as a million answers given / by kind decent honest people’s whom
      try give their best / unto the worst of people whom see others as mere sheep
      to fleece they having lost all hope /give no value to life / no value to creation.

      One can’t in all truth blame people in being downhearted as feeling they have
      been given a bad deal / they did not ask to be born into the world / more so a
      world where there be but misery poverty for many millions / as great injustice.

      However the reality be one’s not given a bad deal in essence / as in essence
      a individual not the material form in essence but a spark of the very power of
      creation. The human form a gift in which one then abled experience true self
      via heart brain the continuation growth in one’s experience & understanding
      thus all questions then but answered. Whom am I ?. What’s life true purpose.

      How is one to achieve the knowing of true self ? / thus gain understanding as
      experience answering their questions so long having longed /in their knowing.

      The answer is meditation in one turning the senses inward thus in bringing a
      unfolding of the spiritual self / thus the questions of life its purpose be known
      via practical understanding as experience one knowing the purpose creation.

      To learn more of meditation rather than live one’s life on medication then on
      PC search put (words of peace) or put (words of peace global) on site be a
      selection of videos in which Prem Rawat explaining one’s need of meditation
      rather than medication / of which many poor souls seek comfort in / where it
      be the questions in having longed wished answered are not being answered.

      Prem will explain one’s need of meditation in the unfolding of the spiritual self
      and aid guide all whom be prepared for such stage where meditation required
      in their development bringing greater understanding as experience of creation
      thus there be joy in life / of course one still having to face as deal with life as it
      is / it’s ups its downs yet one having an constant source of joy / giving strength.

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  16. John Disque Says:

    Did yo u remove my posts on this thread/

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  17. wearywanderer64 Says:

    I’ve never lived in America, so I’ve only ever seen it in films and documentaries. I’ve always thought the South gets helluva bad publicity e.g. they’re all bible bashers and illiterate. No doubt there are some, but no more than anywhere else. I like your attitude to work as here in Europe the attitude is to work to live, not live to work – a crazy notion as your’re only making your boss rich.

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Great response. And for the record, I don’t think you are a bigot. And the cities are far more accepting–no argument there. As to the SBC, I could write a book, but suffice it to say that I know some really fantastic Baptists. And I like my cornbread in sweet milk. :)

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  18. jodeybear Says:

    As a self proclaimed conservative, I want to tell you that I agree (imagine that!)! I’m a transplant that grew up on the WEST coast. I lived in LA county for almost half of my life and slowly made my way across the country and out here. I LOVE the south. It’s different, but I love it. I love that there is an aisle in the grocery store that is full of foods I’ve never seen (and a few I’ve never even heard of). I love the diversity…as you said, I can hear a banjo ten minutes down the road, and ten minutes the other way, I’m on the beach with a bunch of hipster spring breakers in bikinis. As much as people make fun of the south (and I have myself), honestly I think the best thing about the South is that we just don’t give a damn. We keep cooking like Paula Deen, playing banjos and eating gumbo, attending church and making country music. If you listen to country music, you will find that we are proud to be hicks, and we make fun of ourselves, too. I’m proud to call myself a resident of the south now. I’m embracing it with open arms, and all the diversity that comes with it. And that includes its problems – after all….there isn’t a perfect section of the US – cities, mountains, or otherwise….but the best part of being an American is that we can be who we are, and for the most part coexist, too. From NYC to Miami, it’s still a melting pot – and I’ve found the melting pot a lot more here than I have in other places.

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  19. screenshot Says:

    It occurred to me that you stay in the south because the south needs you. There’s always Ashville NC aka “She-ville”, which is a little touch of Boulder CO stuck smack dab in the middle of the Appalachian mountains. It’s a thought … loved your post.

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Thanks! I lived in Asheville for 2 and a half magical years. Love. That. Town.

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      • screenshot Says:

        Why oh why did you ever leave? it’s decades later and i often wish I had never left. I lived there way “back in the day” in the 1980s so I know lots of vintage stories on the town. I was born in NC but live waaaay out west now, a west coastie. Good to meet you! I’m following.

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  20. hiberniangypsy Says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit the South to see what it is really like. Thanks for posting, I definitely will now. Check out my travel stories on http://www.hiberniangypsy.wordpress.com

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  21. leahgraceobrien Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I was born and raised in New England and moved to Florida in 2007. I was surprised by the culture, food, art, and education in St.Petersburg. I always thought Florida would be a cultural wasteland, littered with theme parks and strip plazas. The city I lived in was the furthest thing from being a cultural wasteland. On an aesthetic level, parts of Florida are very lush and beautiful. The beaches and parks are some of the prettiest in the country. As for the people, I have traveled throughout the deep South, and I find most folks to be very friendly. I try and avoid making hasty generalizations about specific demographics of the US, but I do find people down South to be much nicer than folks in New England. I spent many weekends in Boston as a teenager, and never met more hostile people in my life. Anyway, I adore New Orleans, Savannah, Miami, St. Petersburg, Asheville, and Charleston. On a political level, my beliefs and values are very much connected to my upbringing in New England. I am a very progressive person, and find the majority of politicians down South to be very offensive.

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  22. cactuswine Says:

    I’ve been looking for a way to express this feeling and idea for quite a while now. I couldn’t have been more happy to see your post. As a southerner currently ‘mislocated’ in the North, I can’t help but feel the absurdity of common attitudes about southerners every day. We are not the ignorant, false buffoons we are made to seem in popular culture. Thank you so much!

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  23. william wallace Says:

    Such is the joy of the spiritual self / it be as the thread that links
    the pearl necklace every human being so individual in their own
    right yet that which unites all is the creator in granting one’s life.

    It be in time via the development in understanding as experience
    that one wish in understanding such power of creation as creator
    not only in the material extension of such power of creation as of
    the human form the vast universe / as the rising of the sun as the
    setting of the sun upon planet EARTH / EARTH which be a oasis
    in that it can support human life / a human form with brain / heart
    that capable of understanding experiencing the power of creation
    in its very essence thus knowing eternal life /knowing eternal love.

    How does one go beyond the external magnificence of creation to
    that in knowing & experiencing such magnificence in its essence ?.

    The answer to such a question be that of meditation /one’s turning
    the senses inwards in their bringing a unfolding of the spiritual self.

    There at all times with humanity be a “Teacher of Teachers” one
    above all /the teacher of teachers will guide as aid all being ready
    for such stage where meditation be required in their development.

    Present times the “Teacher of Teachers” is Prem Rawat / Prem in
    having dedicated his life to aid all whom seek as desire as wishing
    in understanding as experiencing the essence of creator /creation.

    On pc search put (words of peace) or put (words of peace global)
    on site a selection of videos in which Prem explains meditation as
    its need in one fully understanding creation as in knowing creator.

    ps / one does not wish alarm but climate change will bring greater
    need that one knowing the ultimate aim of creation as aim of life…
    climate change will bring much destruction to the planet / survival
    will be a challenge /as the planet will not be abled in its sustaining
    human life as has been accepted and just expected of in the past.

    One could get in a discussion as argue as whom to blame for the
    poor state of the planet / whom being responsible for the damage
    yet such arguements / discusson will not change the reality of the
    present & future outcome in regarding the planets climate change.

    Thus the need of meditation as a source of peace as comfort will
    be a must in people’s life / an much growing need in people’s life.

    Will the planet heal itself that one day human life will then return ?.
    The answer to that question being a big YES / humanity will return.

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  24. Saraspondence Says:

    A true southerner never apologizes for being southern, she simply smiles and excuses the extraordinarily ignorant rudeness of yankees because she realizes that they just don’t know better. ;) Rachel Maddow is a case in point.

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  25. Freshi Ice Sticks Says:

    congratulations on featured in Freshly pressed.

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  26. The Wombat Says:

    I just found this post so excuse me for being late to the party. I just wanted to talk a little about being a “liberal” in the south. It’s not easy. Every day in my facebook feed I am greeted by ultra-right wing conservative babble (calling me an idiot) and the general Obama is a socialist, Yeehaw I’m a redneck and proud god-dern muslim socialist Obama ain’t taking my guns away, bull shit.

    I am 25 and was born and raised in Mississippi. I moved to Alabama at the age of 20 and have been here ever since. I have three other “blue dot” friends. I can’t talk about my religious beliefs (or lack thereof), my political alignment, or my views on social issues with out being attacked (usually. there are exceptions to every rule)

    I have often thought about how nice it would be to move somewhere else and be surrounded by like minded people, where I could talk freely. But this home. I love the food, the music, the hospitality and for the most part the people. Oh and don’t forget the weather.

    I actually had a gentleman in California one time ask me if I lived there. When I replied no, I lived in Alabama, he said good because I was going to tell you that you sound like an uneducated redneck and you need to lose the accent if you want a job here.

    I guess he didn’t realize that just because I said Y’all didn’t mean I wasn’t a college educated, graduated 5th in the class, with a higher IQ than the majority of people in America person.

    People are rude everywhere is what I learned. So I’d rather be down here. I just wish people could see that we aren’t all like that gun-toting,religious nut, john deere loving, cowboy hat wearing redneck they all seem to think we are.

    I don’t like being misrepresented. That was the point. I rambled a bit. But we southerners are known for our rambling I suppose.

    Bye y’all

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Thanks for your comment. When my dad was preparing for a career in the late 60′s…he took speech lessons to get rid of his South Carolina drawl. I’m sure it probably “helped” him…but when I found out–I was PISSED. Turns out…so was the rest of the family. It is tough and you are right…people are rude everywhere. Ramble on friend.

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  27. Nativegrl77 Says:

    It is beyond annoying to know so many vote against their best interest, put fools who act like people of color don’t exist into Public Service positions and any state that likes “right to work” has evil on their minds. It means getting their work done, keeping their profits up and wages down … It just does not make sense to accept any of this bs ! family ? from GA TX FL

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  28. chantemcb Says:

    I relocated from the Midwest to the New South in 2002 and absolutely love it! For all the reasons you listed and then some!

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  29. George Weaver Says:

    I am seventy years old. I was in college during the height of the civil rights movement. Even then, I did not feel the hatred, bigotry and intolerance that I experience now in Texas. It is appalling to me. I’ve been here for thirty years, but it was only with the election of Obama that I realized the depth of the “clinging to guns and religion” and racism among people whom I have known for years. It is frightening. Like you, I am a southerner and I always will be. I grew up in North Carolina. I can tell you that there is no way Texas is turning anything except crimson in my lifetime. I adopted a rather studied indifference to it all. That’s how I deal with it. This is a thoughtful essay, and I believe your defense is solid. I enjoyed the conversation. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I found one of those messages in my own inbox the other day. I thought it was a hoax. It might very well be. I chuckled. Mine is a folksy little blog, but I enjoy writing it and I love reading all of the creative blogs here. Did you follow Joe Bageant? He spoke for all of us and with authority. I miss him.

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    • Glen Dean Says:

      George, I’ve heard and read this type of thing from many people like yourself. Do you not think though, that since you didn’t realize how racist and redneck we all were until Obama was elected, that maybe it’s not really racism but actually just dislike of Obama and his policies? Is there any way that right wingers can criticize this President, and it not seem racial to folks like you? I mean, it’s like this guy is the “Uncriticizable”.

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      • George Weaver Says:

        Oh, I realized it. It has become fashionable now, however. “Right Wingers”, as you call yourself, are not considered racist by anybody when they stick to facts to make their objections known. Simple as that. A racist fools nobody except himself.
        I hope that answers your question. Perhaps the moderator of this blog will want to take up your question for further discussion. Thank you.

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      • kchapmangibbons Says:

        Let me say that many of us who worked to get PBO elected (twice) criticize him regularly. Not all “right wingers” are racist…but it is an established fact that there is a racial element within the extreme of the GOP. It has reared its ugly head too many times since he became President. Many of the attacks on PBO’s “policies” are not about policy at all–as evidenced by the silence of these same folks for 8 years under Bush about things like spending, expansion of government and the deficit. If you aren’t a racist…congratulations. But the GOP isn’t just perceived as too white…its demographics suggest it has some serious credibility issues with people of color. This isn’t an opinion. This is called data.

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  30. chantemcb Says:

    SOME SUBTLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NORTH & THE SOUTH
    If you are from the northern states and are planning on visiting or
    moving to the South, there are a few things you should know that will help
    you adapt to the difference in lifestyles:

    The North has coffee houses, The South has Waffle Houses.

    The North has dating services, The South has family reunions.

    The North has switchblade knives, The South has Lee Press-on Nails.

    The North has double last names, The South has double first names.

    The North has Ted Kennedy, The South has Jesse Helms.

    The North has Indy car races, The South has stock car races.

    The North has Cream of Wheat, The South has grits.

    The North has green salads, The South has collard greens.

    The North has lobsters, The South has crawdads.

    The North has the rust belt, The South has the Bible Belt.

    In the South:

    If you run your car into a ditch, don’t panic, four men in a four-wheel
    drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be
    along shortly. Don’t try to help them, just stay out of their way, this
    is what they live for.

    Don’t be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store….
    Do not buy any food at this store.

    Remember, “y’all” is singular, “all y’all” is plural, and “all y’all’s”
    is plural possessive.

    Get used to hearing “You ain’t from round here, are ya?”

    Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later on how to
    use it.

    Don’t be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can’t
    understand you either.

    The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner’s
    vocabulary is the adjective “big’ol,” truck or “big’ol” boy. Most
    Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of
    them are in denial about it.

    The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.

    Be advised that “He needed killin” is a valid defense here.

    If you hear a Southerner exclaim, “Hey, y’all, watch this, “you should
    immediately move aside and stay out of the way. These are likely to be
    the last words he’ll ever say.

    If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest
    accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery
    store. It doesn’t matter whether you need anything or not, you just have
    to
    go there.

    Do not be surprised to find that 10-year-olds own their own shotguns,
    they are proficient marksmen, and their mammas taught them how to aim.

    In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush green lawn
    is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway.

    AND REMEMBER:

    If you do settle in the South and bear children, don’t think we will
    accept them as Southerners. After all, if the cat had kittens in the
    oven, we wouldn’t call ‘em biscuits.

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    • kchapmangibbons Says:

      Ok, this is really offensive and sort of THE REASON I wrote the original post. I know it is supposed to be cute and funny–but jokes about inbreeding just aren’t funny. I leave it only to demonstrate all the crap we get all the time.

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  31. kumir426 Says:

    Y don’t we stop complicating things… Although, these r da United States of America; its a big melting pot with all the ingredients of (nationalities, customs, training n more) We must learn how 2 deal w/ppl where their at mentally, physically, economically, etc., n don’t judge… Just wear one face n everything will be fine, with everybody!

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Living in the South « Speaker's Corner in the ATX (scATX) - January 18, 2013

    [...] My friend kchapmangibbons, who lives in Tennessee, has written a wonderful post about this on her blog: The Why: In Which I Defend Living In The South: [...]

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  2. The Sunday ‘Report;’ 01/27/2013; Part 2 « Justincase505's Blog - January 27, 2013

    [...] http://kchapmangibbons.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/the-why/ [...]

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  3. The Way Forward — Thoughts on the #WarOnWomen, Moral Mondays, SCOTUS rulings and How We Fight | Big Blue Dot Y'all - June 27, 2013

    […] off the South completely.  This brilliant Storify is a MUST READ. I’ve written about this previously from my own point of […]

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  4. Abstaining from Religion and Changing the Face of Politics – Millennials Are at it Again #demographics | Big Blue Dot Y'all - March 13, 2014

    […] these changes will also impact cultural change, religious institutions and elections. Even in the South…demographics is […]

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  5. Thanks but No Thanks National Media – Please Do Your Homework #tnleg #lgbt #equality | Big Blue Dot Y'all - March 27, 2014

    […] The Why: In Which I Defend Living In The South Yesterday on Rachel Maddow’s blog, there was a question to all “blue dots.” Why do you stay in red states and do you ever want to leave? The question struck right at the issue most on my mind since the reelection of the President. Kristen Chapman […]

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