Sunday, June 28, 2015

The New South

I was born in Pennsylvania in the early 60s. My siblings were all born in West Virginia and my father from New Jersey.

My Mamma was born in Alabama.

I state this to say, I've spent more than two-third's of my life in the South. First Florida and then Georgia; two states with very different atmospheres. Most of my family at that time lived in the South. We ate what my very Southern mother cooked, which was an interesting combination of both regions. I was never forced to eat turnip greens, or any other green, or even grits. I like oatmeal.

In school, and from grandparents, we learned about 'the war of Northern Aggression' or, if you will, 'the war of Southern Defiance'. I soon learned the point of view was important. Either you where with the South, or against them. There was no neutral ground; a point which I never understood. In a war where affiliation split and lost an entire generation, it truly was 'Us against Them',

I heard stories from my material grandmother about her grandmother, a small girl who took the livestock into the woods by the river in Alabama where they are from; their home place. Home Place is important in the South. It describes not only where but how they were raised. Down to the street it made a distinction.

That brought me to mind of the neighborhood in Pennsylvania where we lived when I was born. A Polish neighborhood. And when we lived in Florida, in a Jewish neighborhood. Or the Italian section of New York. The Irish when they moved into the tenements of New York and the fighting which occurred in those events.

Yes, there are Black neighborhoods and White neighborhoods in Atlanta, where I have lived long enough to remember the 'Blacks Only' signs in the department stores, and the separation that we are always accused of by those who lived anywhere but here. I was in elementary school when the government built a housing project down the street from our school and the dynamics of the county began to change.

But I also know the tremendous strides that have been made here and in other places around the South. Place like Charleston, which handled their tragedy with grace and decorum. Please let their example be held up as a picture of what can happen when everyone works together. And let the media find some new target for their 15 minutes of fame.

There will always be Korean neighborhoods and Mexican neighborhoods, just as there has been since the Hebrews settled in Egypt (in their own neighborhood). When we move, especially from one land to another, the comfort of hearing one's own language and customs helps ease the pain of leaving an entire life behind to start a new one. Neighborhood merge closest to cities where people mesh through work and common life experience. True diversity is achieved only through a lot of work by all peoples, regardless of skin tone.

So as you settle down in your Indian neighborhood or Cambodian neighborhood, remember when we point a finger at someone else, there are three which point backwards toward ourselves. Instead of pointing fingers, why don't you take a look around and see what needs to fixed in your own sphere of influence? True charity and mission work begins in our backyard.

The Independence Day holiday is closing in fast, and I should have some news on Book Two of the Guardian Saga. The title is "The Price for Redemption." That's all today, from my middle class, mixed ethnicity neighborhood where no one flies the Rebel Battle Flag, or any other offensive flag regardless of the season. (Although some of the Halloween decorations make me question their sanity!)