Song of the South: Tangential reflections on the recent events in Charlottesville.

by Elias Blum

The only America I know is the South. The only states I’ve visited are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. That’s my mental image of America: not a New York skyline or a Las Vegas strip, but a steamy south full of pickup trucks with gun racks, little shacks on the side of the roads with signs like ‘Fried Chicken, Boiled Peanuts and Live Bait’, NASCAR, bluegrass, and college football.

But a lot of the people I met there – friends of friends – didn’t fit the media stereotype. They were proud southerners, but not aching for the restoration of the confederacy. They had degrees from places like Duke, Emory and UNC Chapel Hill. They spoke with southern accents, but in eloquent sentences. They were all Christians, but not reactionary fundamentalists. They were all white, but they were not white supremacists. I’m not saying that these are necessarily representative of the South – they are, obviously, a minority. But they are part of the South, and often they have been its social, cultural and intellectual (if not its political) leadership. The South is more than slavery and Jim Crow.

Yet the fact remains that slavery and Jim Crow have left deep scars in the South, distorting its economy, politics and society to this day – and the South needs to repent of that past if it is to heal present wounds and build for itself a better future.