Why does the South get so much hate

Incest jokes and a sense of northern superiority casts the South in an unfair light.

Jacob ‘Coby’Aloi, Guest Columnist

Over the summer I had the pleasure of working in Boston. Quite honestly it is now one of my favorite cities in the United States and I will definitely be going back soon. I met many interesting people from various walks of life and had lots of deep and intriguing conversations. However, one particular conversation stands out to me as the most thought-provoking. 

Late one night while on an on-call shift, myself and three other colleagues got on the topic of the University of Alabama Football team. For context, all of my colleagues were either New Englanders or West Coasters, and I was the sole islander present. After I said the obligatory “Roll Tide!”, one of my coworkers made a comment about how all the fans of the Crimson were dating their cousins and committing incest. I was taken aback by such a blatant example of northern supremacy thinking.

My colleague’s remark is just an example of the countless jokes I’ve heard made at the expense of the southern United States. Classist, ableist and quite honestly bigoted blanket statements are made about places like Mississippi and Georgia all the time, but truth be told I’ve never understood it. 

I think of the south much like I think of the rest of the United States. The hatred I’ve seen from a lot of Northerners, especially liberal-minded white ones, is strange and in many cases uncalled for. 

Of course, you cannot separate the south from its dark past. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and continued injustices plague the south, and dispropotionatly affect the working class and people of color- to be more specific, Black folks. These have never been and will never be a joking matter and something I believe we should all take seriously. 

However, I feel like the majority of the country uses this as justification to mock southerners while not acknowledging their own racist history. Redlining, Dred Scott, Rodney King, the Central Park seven and the murder of George Floyd are a reminder of how prevalent racism is in America, regardless of location. 

Yet, there is this sense of entitlement and superiority the rest of the country has over the south. Since they were sneaky about their racism they have the moral high ground to look down on the south as a land of inbred, idiotic and bigoted people. To do so is not only hypocritical, but also discounts what the south has created for themselves and that America benefits from. 

To me, the south is the home of Jazz. It is the birthplace of soul food, the Miami sound machine, Dolly Parton, Selena, and countless of other movers and shakers in American Culture. It was home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the Tuskegee Airmen. As a man of color myself, the south has always been a symbol of culture and a hub for artists looking to connect with their roots. 

It is irresponsible to cast any place in a single light, and then use that very skewed idea of a place as a reason to mock it. We have to keep a realistic view of places, we cannot glorify them and we cannot demonize based on narrow concepts rooted in years of normalized bigotry and mockery. The South has its issues, but it also has a vibrant and passionate community and culture, with a long tradition of influential people. 

So next time you want to tell an incest joke about Tennesse, maybe skip it and listen to some Dolly Parton instead, you might change your tune.