Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tell Her About It

This is my sister Janna with her boyfriend Anthony. And if you have a problem with that, you might as well stop reading here. Racism is an undeniably ugly part of the Southern heritage. There is no one left to remember the bloody civil war fought under the name of states' rights but was in reality a pretext to keep our slaves; we are left with the history books and the peoople who think we should still be fighting it. And I am too young to remember the crusades of the civil rights era, the struggles of a people to win what was promised them long ago. I have grown up in a generation that took the rights of others to live as our Constitution guarantees for granted. So why is it that sometimes, the land of the free, doesn't act like everything is so free?

The racism is subtler, now. Walk with them, talk with them, but don’t marry them. It’s still the South and they aren’t like us even though they’re our best friends, and what if they have children? Kept quiet, the devastating lessons passed down with the morning’s milk and cereal, whispered between like-minded children at the playground, fed at dinnertime in between admonitions to keep your elbows off the table and pass the beets, please. Ruminated over at night while the children dream and the parents pray they will stick to their own kind and not fall in love with someone from the different side of the tracks because what will the people at the country club think? Song of the Sordid South.

And then the uproars come- “ How dare Maurice Bessinger fly the Confederate flag and put pamphlets encouraging slavery in his restaurants, we must all boycott him, what a horrible person he is.” All the while thinking, “Maybe he has a point, but I’ve got to go along against what everyone says is evil because it wouldn’t be politically correct not to but please God just let the kids meet a nice WASP and settle down.” But you don’t have to tell the people who choose to challenge the status quo. They know. They know that people are whispering behind their back, saying they are wrong, wrong, wrong. But they don’t care, they are in love, and nothing is going to tear them apart. Especially not racism, didn’t that go out with the sixties?

The secrets are shattering, you would expect them to die with the generations that lived and disagreed through it. But they are passing their legacy down, making sure that even if the KKK isn’t roaming around anymore, that doesn’t mean they weren’t right and we can’t let that die. Someone has to inspire the neo-Nazis who may not be out in the open but are perhaps made even more dangerous by their insidiousness. For by keeping silent, they can deny it ever happened. So do we keep on denying it, too, we who dare to think differently but are ashamed to disagree with what seems to be the status quo? Do we hide it behind pretty words like demographics and culture?

Or do we choose to break the silence, saying, “Yes, if this is who you love, then I support you. If you feel you are to spend your lives together, or not, that’s your business and why would I want to interfere? Because he’s different from you?” Do we stand up, declaring maybe I can’t change the world but if I can do this one thing, for you and for my country, then I will make that choice. For this is my country, and I do love the South. That’s why I want her to change, to say if a man and a woman want to be together as God intended, shouldn’t we as a society support them, and not let the disapproval radiate as we pay lip services to equal rights? Or do we use them, saying they are the victims, anybody should be allowed to marry anybody, twisting the point until they alienate those who might actually agree with the original premise? It doesn’t have to be. My generation, and yours, can break the cycle, here and everywhere. Your silence only encourages those who still want to live in the remnants of the shameful past. Break the pattern, for the beautiful children that will be born. Do it for you, and do it for them, for they are and will be the future.


At 8/11/2005 04:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo for a brave and thoughtful blog, Nettie.

My husband is half Asian, half Irish.

Since I'm also a Southern Belle, I can really empathize with your thoughts.


At 8/11/2005 08:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, we don't have that here. when i read the first part of your blog, i had no idea what the problem was. it almost looks like she is sticking out her tongue, i thought maybe it was pierced and this was going to be about piercings.

At 8/11/2005 09:19:00 AM, Blogger Steph said...

Well said Nettie!

At 8/11/2005 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Jeff H said...

Your impassioned words obviously spring from the passion of your heart. Good for you, Nettie, good for you.

I do not accept any form of racism, no matter its source: white, black, asian, hispanic, whatever/whoever. I do think people need to be aware of it and its potential impact upon their lives. I am in no way saying interracial marriages are wrong, nor that they are justifiably targeted by social intolerance and bigotry. I am saying instead, that those who choose to involve themselves in interracial marriages need to not go into it with "eyes wide shut", thinking everyone will be perfectly happy for them--especially family. And there is equal blame to share in this: blacks, asians, hispanics are every bit as prejudicial toward intermarriage as are whites. And the phenomenon is not the sole purview of the South. Indiana has the most active KKK in the nation, and has for decades.

To wrap up, God's blessings on your sister and her boyfriend. If they feel God wants them to be man and wife, so much the better and may no man or woman--be they white, black, asian, hispanic, whatever/whoever--deem it their right to tear them asunder.

At 8/11/2005 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

It's good to see you are passionate about justice. He's cute by the way.

At 8/11/2005 02:34:00 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

I just read better safe than sorry's comment, and I totally agree when she said that we don't have that here. I was like what? I didn't even notice he was black. We do however have very strong racism against natives where I'm from. It's hard for them to get jobs.

At 8/11/2005 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Paula said...

He's so cute! It's hared to live in the South and deal with racism. My neice is biracial and I'm mexican-american, so that makes me biracial too. We must break the silence!!! Great post!

At 8/12/2005 06:41:00 PM, Anonymous Stacy said...

Nettie, I think that was the best post you've ever done. My family hails from the South, so I completely get it. I have aunts/uncles/cousins down there that still don't get it. When I first saw that picture I thought "yea, sister, you go". Our recent trip to TX gave me the opportunity to talk to my children about racism in the South. And, I'm still dazed from the gorgeous, hunky, muscular black man I stood next to in the elevator at the hotel. He was in the Army; had his fatigues on, all pressed and perfect. Had these great boots on, perfectly shined on the bottom with fatigue fabric on top. Oh yea, it was a good moment.

At 8/13/2005 06:56:00 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

Wow Nettie,

Empassioned and wise words! Strong stuff but so well said!!

At 8/15/2005 01:06:00 PM, Blogger headliner said...


I like this, really, good stuff, I thought it was against the law for Southern Republicans to write like that :) Very cool, I emailed it to a few friends.


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