The South: I Don’t Want to Understand

I came to the South having tried to prepare myself. I tried to prepare myself for the culture shock. I tried to tell myself how I would deal with things when they came around. I tried to tell myself that there would be a culture shock no matter how many times I repeated dialogue in my head. I tried to tell myself I wouldn’t be prepared.

ImageThe middle of nowhere, California; January 2013

So I came, and within the first few months, it hit me… I was not in California anymore.  

I considered transferring home. I considered dropping my sorority. I questioned why I ever decided that it’d be a good idea to come down here and go to school. Why did I put myself in this situation? Why did I think that I could do this? Why did I expose myself to this? 

I called my mom, practically in tears and I asked her desperately, “Mom, what do I do?… I don’t know how to deal with this… It’s just so twisted…How do I get used to this?” 

She replied, “You don’t. You’re not supposed to get used to stuff like this, sweetie.” 

“It’s really not that big of a deal.”
“That’s just how it is down here.”

Mommy knows best. I’m not supposed to get stuff like this and quite frankly, I don’t want to. I don’t want the twisted beliefs of other people to change me. People can’t blame everything on where they were born. I’m not going to excuse massive groups of American citizens for moral indecency just because of their background. I know it’s “different,” but I also know that isn’t an excuse. 

There is an incredible amount of personal responsibility I’m required to take with these situations. It hit me later while all this was still on my mind, that if I leave, that’d be it. I’d be letting others think that there beliefs are okay to have. I’d be the person that I never wanted to be: the one who gives up. 

I’ve heard women who are supposed to be role models and give moral guidance to younger students write off incidents of racism because You’re not from here, you wouldn’t understand.”

You know, you’re right; I don’t understand. I don’t get how you can call yourself a Christian and be so hateful. You claim the South in the best place in the world and yes, it has it’s good qualities but don’t you see the bad too? I don’t get how you can judge someone based off the color of their skin. I don’t understand this weird, twisted, “higher than thou” attitude that some people in the South seem to have when it comes to things so rudimentary and basic as human rights. I don’t understand racism. I don’t understand how the color of anyone’s skin makes any difference in anything… ever.  Maybe it’s just cause I’m not Southern. I just don’t understand, do I?

But that is a beautiful something. That is something I refuse to let go of. I don’t want to understand.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”


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