A friend of a colleague posted this old article the other day (the other year, actually. This article is an edit from our first go round with this shit). The year, 2004. Swiftboating became a thing and the War on Terror™ was in its full horrific glory. Another year when another election hung in the balance of just a few states and was (and maybe will be) decided by a conservative SCOTUS to favor a Texan. Of course, that Texan really wasn’t, I feel certain Conneticut is not the South. I’ve been reading and trying to refute the “just MOVE” Twitter crowd, but I’m just yelling into the void. I’ve been reading and writing and refuting for a very. long. time.
I get it. We, The Southeastern US, seceded from the Union in order to protect our Nation’s greatest shame, the enslavement of human beings. We would rather have protected the wealth enslaved people sustained (for this entire country) than the wealth of morality. I say “we” because besides the very real material privilege of being white in this moment, in my actual life, I’ve also done my genealogy and well, my people, at least on the one side, are “we”.
Our states seem to universally support right wing policies that hurt children, the poor, the disabled, veterans, Black and Brown people, immigrants, women and queer people. If you hit the oppression BINGO and belong to multiple identities here, our Southern leaders are really good at giving you the best ever of those prizes.
I could spend time on refuting the facts of the founding fathers, who they were and where they came from, but probably a good listen to the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast recording will suffice. Then, please read any number of articles on who they really were, what they believed in, and which groups they wanted this country to work for. (Psst: it wasn’t equality and it sure weren’t “the rest of us”). I guess I could spend some more time discussing what the Civil War was truly about and who Lincoln was and how Reconstruction was thwarted by a Federal government that got exactly what it wanted. (For fun, please read this incredible book).
I’ll refrain from addressing the cultural gems that are in the South: you can look up Nashville Hot Chicken, Delta Blues, and the Gullah Geechee on your own because Google is a thing.
I could get to the infrastructure thing in the original article, I guess, but it’s also pretty easy to Google “who pays for roads?” and learn that SPLOST and tSPLOST pay for lots of infrastructures. It is certainly true that we don’t carry our weight when it comes to federal dollars in and out. Of course, the feds and the Dept of Education (headed up by whom, now? Oh, that’s right a NYC real estate mogul and reality star and Michigander from a city that’s 86% white in a county named for the tribe they tried really hard to completely genocide.)
But, back to “paying our own way” and what not. I wonder why that might be? Much of those lost taxes wouldn’t be paid for by most of us, since the South has some of the highest poverty in the country, especially when combined with the Appalachian region that overlaps the South. Hmm, who can and should be paying taxes and aren’t? I believe it might be new movie lots and production houses, car manufacturers and the music industry (who suddenly discovered ATL was the place to be, not hardworking, from the country, from the SWATs, Di*ie Chicks musicians and producers) who all get huge tax breaks in order to move their businesses here, a set of right to work states, where they don’t pay their fair share, AND *bonus* can ruin the lives of workers at any time.
Is it possible that in the same way a gerrymandered district with no chance to elect a Democratic congressman in Georgia’s 6th was out voted by the wealthiest, whitest areas of the district in 2016, the entirety of the South might not be being represented adequately, accurately, or fairly by those who have been elected?
I wonder why Dems and Leftists can’t make gains in the South? Is it just because we are white and racist and classist? Sure, some of us are. What I really wonder, is why we as a country tie political movement to electoral politics that weren’t meant for any of us unless you are coming from the moneyed elite…and if you’re reading this article, I can’t imagine you are.
Of course, lots and lots and lots of counties have 50% or more Black populations. Since the South has the largest concentration of Black Americans/residents in the country, I’m going to go ahead and posit that racism and classism prevent the South from getting the representation we deserve and want, rather than the supposed fact that we are voting for what we have en masse and without thought for our “own best interests”. Black men represent 37% of the prison population, in a majority of states, those convicted of felonies are stripped of their basic human right to participate in the democratic process.
What about the poor and how they vote? Georgians overwhelmingly supported an expansion of Medicaid. Who chose not to do so? Old, rich, white men in Atlanta. That wasn’t put to a popular vote and gerrymandered districts made voting those same old, white men out of office difficult (see again GA 6th and Jason Carter’s bid for Governor.)
Why don’t we just move? Because fuck them, that’s why. How about they can git. Where should the oppressed, the marginalized, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” find a place to call home? The “Blue Wall” of states that price out everyone who ain’t white, rich, and evidently an asshole tech-bro? Or maybe one of these states where hate-crimes “don’t happen here”?
So, when you say “fuck the South”, what you are really saying is “move to a place that’s economy benefited enormously from slavery, but pretends they “saved the Union”. What you are really saying is “move to a place where there are so few people of color that racism just isn’t a problem”, and, “oh, please, come to Oregon, a bastion of equality!”
When you say, “fuck the South” you are spitting in the face of every marginalized person, organizer, poor worker, immigrant picker, soul-food cook, gospel singer, every person who has a fucking right to be here and make it better. How about, instead, we work to give reparations to those whom which it is due and y’all can keep your Swedish meatballs or whatever?
So. To be clear. When you say, “Fuck the South”, you are just shitting on the oppressed you say you care about and the “other side” already does that just fine.