Degradation of Southern culture needs to stop

Chloe Devitis, Staff Writer

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     What’s the first thing you picture when you think of the average Southern American? Is it a bad stereotype? Maybe some guy with the confederate flag on his old pick up truck? Currently, people have been questioning the cultural validity of the Confederate flag and other civil war monuments. The American south has a very rich and distinct culture including dialect, cuisine, music and way of life. There are numerous aspects of Southern culture that have gained popularity, so the real question is… why does the Confederate flag still resonate so strongly today?

     First off, the person you might have pictured in your head was most likely the stereotypical farming, racist, dumb white guy. The main problem that I’ve seen is how people from the South are portrayed in the media.

     Whenever Southerners are portrayed on television shows or movies, it’s almost always in a negative light and a degrading manner. I think we can all remember when Honey BooBoo was a big hit and how it paraded a Southern family’s way of life while making a mockery of it for comedy.

     These negative stereotypes stick like glue in the minds of most Americans across the country. The dumb, blue collar and overweight Southerner that drinks their weight in cheap beer. This picture, however, is not right. It is the very illogical, unfair and distorted view that the media has highlighted to show the world and has caused other regions of America to look down and make fun of Southerners.

     Could it be that the media has made Southerners feel insecure about their own cultural identity and has then caused them to hold on to the time when they held the powerful voice and significance during the Civil War? Another problem directly related to this, is that most of the states that make up the South happen to be among the poorest in our nation. Places like Mississippi, West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and South Carolina, just to name a few, have some of the lowest incomes on average. This could be another reason why people look down on Southern culture since many people associate their symbols, values and lifestyles with poverty.

     This reveals a lot of information as well on how Americans view and look down on poverty. This superficial and materialistic society that America lives in today has turned us into people that reward those with luxurious aesthetics and activities. People who don’t have the money to do or have these things are left out.

     Social media such as Instagram and Facebook have escalated these superficial tendencies where we find people posting pictures of their recent trips across Europe or pictures of the food they just ate at a that hip and expensive restaurant. These kinds of things can make anyone feel badly about their lives and has thrown us into the shallow and insincere world that flaks poor people from being able to appreciate many current, mainstream/urban activities and aesthetics.

     Severe poverty and the negative Southern portrayal in the media as well as the built-up superficiality from Instagram and Facebook could be leading Southerners to feel insecure about their identity and the marginalization of their overall voice. There is no reason for any of this. So much should be celebrated in Southern culture. Some of the South’s greatest musicians, foods and writers have even shaped the greater American way of life.

     The Civil War is a memory of the greater power and voice that the South had. This was a point in time when it was impossible to marginalize their voice. So maybe it was the media, systematic poverty and the rest of America that lead to the attachment to the Confederacy.

     So yes, the South has a very distinct culture. Yes, it’s very rich and historic among all aspects. However, just because we picture them as white Americans does not mean they all enjoy the same “privilege” as people claim that the white community has. This also does not give people the right to demonize a culture, generalizing it as racist.

     I’m not saying I believe the confederate symbols should or shouldn’t be used as a symbol, neither am I a voice that represents the South. The overall takeaway is that Southern culture should be celebrated along with the rest of America’s cultural variations.

Chloe is a senior Anthropology and German major . She is the BU Democrats Communications Coordinator and German Club Vice President. She is a staff writer for The Voice