I need your help, and all it will cost you is two minutes of your time.
But before we get to that, there are a few things that I should tell you first. Right now I’m busy wrapping up my final semester of graduate school (woohoo!), which means that as the semester winds down, it’s coming time for seminar papers, final projects, and the like. This semester, in addition to my thesis hours, I’m enrolled in a course entitled American Women’s Memoir. It’s been a wonderfully provocative course, and it’s got me thinking about a number of things. Or, more specifically, it’s got me thinking about where I come from.
Okay, okay, I know it seems cliche to say that I’ve been thinking all of the usual questions: Who am I? Where do I come from? But, to be honest, sometimes the cliches are true. What this all amounts to is a confrontation between myself and my heritage. See, I was raised in the American South–South Carolina, to be more specific. Sure, I lived in different cities while I was there (Columbia, Rock Hill, Spartanburg), but on the whole I lived there for my entire life until I moved to Kansas for graduate school. Growing up, our school system gave us the usual state history, sending us on tours of the state museum and Robert E. Lee’s house the way kids in Philly probably go see the Liberty Bell. But despite my education, I never would have said that I claimed ties to my home state. I just didn’t feel a strong sense of connection, you know?
In fact, the opposite is more likely true. When I got to college, I picked up on a sense of derision that rode on the coattails of the term “Southern.” To be from the South, it seemed, meant that one was inherently bigoted, racist, and ignorant. So I tried to divorce myself from my heritage, tried to eliminate any trace of an accent and focused on expanding myself so that I could fit in with the “rest of the world.” It’s only now, as an adult, that I’ve begun to realize that there is no “rest of the world” or “rest of America.” There are just Americans.
So, in an effort to understand and reclaim my heritage and to validate the role and contributions of Southerners, I’m launching a bit of a multimedia project involving the dominant cultural perspectives on the American South, as well as finding ways to usurp and/or disprove the stereotypes. This is where you come in. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be collecting various images and/or urls for information relating to the American South. Using Pinterest.com as a form of social curation, I’ll be creating two pinboards. One that focuses on general stereotypes and/or perceptions of the South/South Carolina and one that focuses on revealing what South Carolina is–at least as I’ve experienced. When I’ve collected all of my data/research, I’ll then work on compiling it into a video that encompasses my various findings, thoughts, and arguments.
For the first phase of the project, I need to hear from all of you. If you’ve got two minutes to spare (that is, if you can sacrifice two minutes of playing/using Twitter/Angry Birds/Facebook/Zombies versus Plants), then please leave a comment on this blog post, responding to the following question:
If someone were to say the word “South” or “Southern” to you, what would immediately spring to mind?
In your post, please indicate whether you would call yourself a Southerner or not.
Thank you for your time.