Monday, August 22, 2011

White southern woman & beyond

I first became aware that I was a Southerner in college.  A girl on the track team from New York thought that I had a southern accent; the others agreed with her.  It was an odd thing to hear, because I thought that I had a "normal" accent.  Sure, at age ten I'd come home from living with my dad in Arkansas saying things like warsh instead of wash, and July with an emphasis on the first syllable, but those days were long gone. I was sure that a couple of weeks in my mother's house had eradicated my paternal grandmother's accent.

I was born in New Orleans, and by college had also lived in Texas, Arkansas, and Virginia.
  I  had often seen my grandad enjoying the delicacy of cornbread crumbled into pot liquor and buttermilk,  knew that my highschool wasn't integrated until 1965, and grew up hearing Waylon and Willie in the house. Still,  I had never thought of myself as being "the other" simply because I was born beneath the Mason Dixon line.  On my junior high/ high school team, I was the white one.  Being a racial minority was a different way of being "the other", and one that challenged my thinking on racial issues.  Likewise, after living in the South for 17 years, it took being surrounded by Northerners to feel my "otherness" as a Southerner. I began to think about what being Southern meant to me both individually and culturally.  A small taste of "otherness" made me more aware of who I am, both as a white Southern woman and beyond demographic lines.


  1. I must comment for the record, your paternal grandmother never said "warsh" or JU-ly, although in support of artistic license, it does enhance the blog. Granddad did love his cornbread and buttermilk! Thanks for Kale! It is great. Aunt Nancy

  2. Nancy, I am pretty sure that she did. When I lived with my dad, and spent so much time at her house, I picked up that habit. Unless it was from grandad?

  3. I am positive that Grandma said JU-ly and also warsh. Possibly my memory is flawed, but that is my flawed memory, not an intent at artistic anything.