Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Greetings from Tennessee

This morning on the way to work I was sitting in traffic next to a pickup truck that had a horn that played "Dixie," just like the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard. As he pulled away I saw the lettering on the back window that read "SOUTHEN BOY" (sic). Swear to god. And yesterday, different truck, a bumper sticker with the Confederate flag that said "DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR BEING WHITE." Okay, I won't.

Ahh, the southland.

On the same topic, I went out to lunch at a new Mexican place yesterday for my boss's birthday with some women from the office. Soon after we sat down my boss said, regarding some of the other diners in the restaurant, "It's kind of strange seeing Asian people in a Mexican restaurant." I just turned to her as we sat at our table of six Caucasians snacking on tortilla chips and salsa with Spanish-language pop music playing in the background and stated the obvious: "No more so than seeing us in a Mexican restaurant."

She reluctantly agreed.

24 comments:

nancypearlwannabe said...

First off, I think we definitely need a post about how you and Courtney ended up in Tennessee. I have no concept of what it would be like to live in the south, I feel like the Dukes of Hazzard horn would be commonplace.

Also, when I first read your second paragraph I thought you had gone to a New Mexican restaurant, like the state, and I was wondering what kind of food was New Mexican before I realized my mistake.

Allie said...

I second NPW's comment. I've wondered what brought you to Tennessee too.

Courtney said...

I'll let you answer the previous questions, since they were asked on your blog and all.

Southen boy? Good lord. Want to move to England? (That's the place where I can't imagine there being any rednecks.)

sid said...

Hey ... do you think you could just give me an idea as to how many people of colour there are in the South? I love living in Cape Town. Its so multi-cultural. People keep asking me if I'm from Asian descent. And even though I look Asian to some people I still don't stick out. There are a number of coloured people look like me. Oh and in South Africa coloured has a different meaning to the American meaning. Coloured people aren't black. They're a mixed breed.

Weird as I'm typing this a news clip on racism in a South African university just came up.

Meaghan said...

Ah the Dixie horn. I don't think I've heard that one since high school (that was in Tennessee and now I live in Georgia...hmmm).

Kind of related... I am a bit envious of black people. Their skin is nearly timeless! I've seen men and women in their 60s and 70s with little to no wrinkles. Beautiful!

Chris said...

Well, NPW, as a native of Tennessee who now lives in Georgia, I can tell you the Dixie horn is not that uncommon -- in both places.

This is not to say that being a Tennessee native means I like to hear the Dixie horn, nor have I installed one on my Toyota Corolla, although I would be amused by the irony of it if I did. (I know I probably misused "irony," so don't bother.)

Sid, as for people of color, there's a pretty substantial black and Hispanic population in the southern United States, though they're still slightly in the minority to whites. There's a small but growing Asian population. (By Hispanic, we generally mean people of Mexican and Central American heritage who in many cases immigrated here one generation ago or less.)

I don't buy the notion that the South is vastly more racist than the rest of the nation, if that's what you're wondering. However, there is still racism here. And there's also widespread self-imposed segregation. Walk through any high school cafeteria and you'll likely see clusters of skin colors. Go to any church on Sunday morning, and you'll probably see one exclusive skin color. The same is true to some extent for the neighborhood you live in, although I think income level may play more of a role in that than race.

I envy you, Sid, living in a place where people have become so comfortable with diversity that your heritage can be a pleasant topic of conversation, rather than a potentially offensive question. You could find some of that in the South -- in metropolitan areas and on university campuses sometimes -- but generally less so in rural areas.

(Sorry Mickey. Didn't mean to take over. I just got on a roll, there.)

Mickey said...

npw- The requested post is forthcoming... It had been a long time since I'd heard a musical car horn... I bet food in New Mexico is like Tex-Mex, except it would be New Mex-Mex.

allie- Suddenly so much interest! How does anyone end up anywhere?

courtney- You better believe that every location on Earth has it's version of rednecks.

sid- Here's a Wikipedia link for demographics in the state of Tennessee.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee#Demographics

Despite stereotypes, I don't actually think racism is any more prevalent in the South than other parts of the US. Visit South Philly or rural Utah if you don't agree.

meaghan- Okay.

Mickey said...

chris- You snuck that in while I was writing the above replies. I agree with you, mostly. I'm not sure I'd assume that South Africa is a shangri-la of harmonious race relations, though. Given its turbulent recent history in that regard, I'm guessing there are still plenty of people with an axe to grind. Especially when you consider that the civil rights movement here in the US took place 40 years ago and the struggle for social equality continues today.

em said...

Stan and I were just sitting in our hole of an office reading your post and laughing out loud. I said, "I'm going to write him [you] about..." and Stan interrupted me saying "WHICH encounter?" Because, yes, unfortunately there are too many.

My favorite is the day we were moving offices and all the furniture was packed up so we were conducting very important business from the floor. (Weird enough). And this came out of someone's mouth: "I feel like a Chinaman."

WHAT?! Wait, WHAT?!

There are many, many others but I fear you may die a little inside if I tell you. I know I have.

PS. Stan's real (first) name isn't Stan, and a lot of the time I almost goof and give him up. It's okay, If we got into a duel, I'd win.

em said...

PPS.
It isn't Racist Rednesday yet, so you probably should have waited to write this post.

Mickey said...

em- Shit, I forgot. And I can't think of a racist way to spell Tuesday, either.

You know, "Stan" is my favorite nickname for Satan. I think it comes from some online comic that Jacob likes to read.

survivingmyself said...

wow. i was kinda feeling the general lee horn though, i'm not gonna front.

and dude, send me the link, or direct me to where your "rad" post is.

Mickey said...

survivingmyself- Why don't you come up on here as Apollo Creed? Copy and paste this for my Rad post from December:

http://theprettiestdennyswaitress.blogspot.com/2007/12/poppin-wheelies.html

Anonymous said...

i like burritos.

hightower

Jacob said...

While love of Southern Heritage most definitely is more common here than elsewhere (although there is a big barn along the Interstate in Ohio on the way to Cleveland we pass every time we visit that has its whole side painted in the rebel flag, which is odd given that Ohio is really north), racism isn't all that high compared to the rest of the country. My experiences with people in Cleveland is that they're just as likely to be racist as here (and Kim's family up there is worse than anyone in my family except the black sheep cousin). I also took a class with a former black panther professor and an older student who had moved from New York city who said that she was unable to buy a house in white neighborhoods in New York, but had no such problem in metro Atlanta. Plus, my working class neighborhood in semi-rural Adairsville was racially mixed (probably 15-20 percent black). Kim's parent's much nicer suburban neighborhood is also decidedly mixed.

Boston is famous for its racism as are LA and Detroit. We just had the misfortune to live in a place where our racism was once codified (and it's likely Jim Crow laws would have been much lighter or non existant had Reconstruction never been there for Southerners to rebel against and go the opposite way when they got their political freedoms back).

I was actually shocked when I started hearing some of Kim's relatives talking about blacks and hispanics. I'd never heard talk like that, and I grew up in a family that lives more than an hour's drive from any city that even approaches a population of 100,000. You'd think my family would have been the pack of drooling racists.

Jacob said...

Sid, where I live, my county is known for being white-bread because blacks only make up 20% of the population. The average county in this part of the state is closer to 50/50 black and white, although Hispanics are something-teen percent of the population in many counties and there's a growing Asian population even in these very rural counties. Just on my tennis team (a sport not known for its ethnic diversity) has four blacks, two Hispanics, and a Cambodian out of a team of 26 total.

The funny thing is that what we do lack are the white ethnic groups. Pretty much the only surnames are English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish with the occasional French and Dutch weirdos. I can't think of a kid in the entire school with an Eastern European or Mediterranean surname. Not a single Italian, Jewish, or Polish name in the bunch.

Julie said...

I'm with Hightower. I like burritos.

Stefanie said...

Do you think maybe "Southen" wasn't a typo, but was a deliberate attempt to mimic the appropriate accent? (No? Yeah, I don't think so either. Well, I tried.)

Mickey said...

hightower- I know you do.

jacob- Yeah, all that stuff you said.

julie- No, he really does like burritos. That's the only thing he'll get from Taco Bell.

stephanie- How I wish it were a typo.

Rachel said...

A few weeks ago, I was driving down a busy street in my western Kentucky city when I noticed a tricked-out car (spoiler and all) pull up next to me at a stop light. Across the back window was written in elaborate script, "Dirty South Rydaz." The real humor was in the fact that the car was a Toyota Corolla.

Also, I'm tired of the bumper sticker that tells immigrants to speak English or go home. Southerners especially -- with their "y'alls" and "ain'ts" and "might coulds" -- have no right to display that sticker. Also, I'm sick of seeing truck balls, but that might not be an exclusively Dixie phenomenon.

Mickey said...

rachel- Truck balls. They should only exist in a dimension where 9-year-old boys are allowed to drive. So effin uncool.

Severo said...

Yeah, go to Kentucky if you really wanna see some Confederate flag flying, hood-wearing, truck driving, upstanding citizens of society.

ha ha. truck balls are funny :)

Noelle said...

I like burritos, too!

When I was in Richmond, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "will the last American out of Miami please remember to take the flag?" It took me a while to figure out what it meant, but I was certain that I was offended from the start.

We have plenty of racism here in New York, but people aren't allowed to be as open about it.

Mickey said...

severo- Kentucky is a very special place.

noelle- I'm not sure if that bumper sticker offends me more because of its racism or its alarmism. Whatever your ism, it's still going to be okay, so chill out.