Y’all, it’s time to dispel some myths about the South and Southerners. We’ve all fielded the questions, as dumb as they are, but enough is enough. Every single one of these misconceptions is a real-life example of something I, or someone I know, has encountered when they ventured either north or west. That’s why I’m going to put my hayseed down for a hot minute and speak a little truth.
Myth: Southerners don’t wear shoes.
Truth: If you saw my closet you’d know this was a lie. My mama had me so scared of ringworm, that I didn’t even want to wear sandals, much less go barefoot, for fear that the worms would jump on my little exposed toes and bore right through my skin. I still don’t like to go barefoot even at home! Who knew it was a fungus and not real worms? Anyway, like everyone does, we go barefoot at the beach or the lake or the river, but for the most part, yes, we wear shoes.
Myth: Southerners are dumb.
Truth: Washington and Lee. Duke. Vandy. Wake Forest. Emory. Rhodes. William and Mary. Chapel Hill. Tulane. Sewanee. Clemson. The University of Georgia (chartered in 1785, my husband will be quick to remind you). UAB (which is my employer, in full disclosure). My alma mater, The University of Montevallo, a public liberal arts college. Not to mention all the SEC schools. And that’s just a few that I can think of right off the top of my head. We’ve got some smart folks, and people come from all over the world to get themselves smart right here in the sunny South. And if you were smart, you would have thought of this.
Myth: If you are a smart Southerner, you must be an idiot savant.
Truth: See above. We are not all Forrest Gumps nor do we know Forrest nor do we all think that “life is like a box…” Nevermind. You know.
Myth: We don’t have indoor plumbing and still use outhouses when nature calls.
Truth: Are you for real with this? Of course we have plumbing. We have electricity too. Now there may be people living in extreme poverty who do not have these luxuries, but I don’t think that has to do with being in the South and has everything to do with being really, really poor.
Myth: We don’t have paved roads.
Truth: We do have some red dirt roads, but there’s plenty of pavement to go around. There’s so much pavement, in fact, that like most places, the runoff from our highways and parking lots is killing the local wildlife in our creeks and rivers. Whole species of salamander and fish are going extinct faster than we can do anything about it. Makes me wish we’d kept our dirt roads instead of being so darned civilized.
Myth: The South ain’t nothing but cotton fields and corn fields.
Truth: We’ve got plenty of big cities with arts, culture, commerce, and industry. Cities like Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville. We’ve also got a healthy agricultural industry. So the next time you put on your organic cotton shift and go out to get a soy latte to wash down your organic popcorn or throw on a hemp robe and eat some fresh sliced peaches on your acai bowl, think about where that all that stuff comes from. Here’s a hint: cotton doesn’t grow at the mall.
Myth: Southerners are all inbred cousin-lovers.
Truth: It is true that you can marry your first cousin in Alabama, although I don’t know of anyone who’s actually done it. You know where else it’s legal to marry your first cousin? Alaska, Hawaii, California and New York. I’m just going to leave that right there.
(You really didn’t think that’s all there were did you? Read the next seven here.)