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There’s a good chance that if you live in any consistently “blue” state, you harbor the belief that all southerners are a bunch of back casting, backwoods and backwards hicks. What you might not realize is that there are tons of very liberal individuals born and raised in these parts. And by growing up as a liberal in the south, there are some very important lessons that you walk away with.
RACISTS REALLY DON’T THINK THEY’RE RACIST
If you’ve ever come across a racist online, you’ve undoubtedly become accustomed to the phrase “OBUMMER supporters call everyone racist when they’re losing an argument.” You’ll see people say the most racist things while insisting they’re not racist. After all, they have black friends, right?
If you’re unaccustomed to people who actually are racist, you may think that these individuals know they’re bigoted and are just lying to make themselves seem less ignorant. You’d be wrong, though. Racists actually believe that they’re not racist at all. It’s quite a unique occurrence.
Take the Confederate flag, for instance. Every single person I know who owns one has used the “N-word” in normal conversation with me around. Even after this, though, they honestly still don’t think they’re racist. When they say they have black friends, they’re actually telling you the truth; and to them, having these friends is enough to make the use of racist terminology not that big of a deal.
Don’t ask me why it happens like this. The best I can think is that they’ve been preconditioned to be both racist and to realize that racism is socially unacceptable. It’s got to be the most insane case of cognitive dissonance you’ve ever seen.
INSULTING GOD IS NEVER OKAY
Growing up in the Deep South, you’re taught that the Bible is THE Good Book. And in most cases, not just a book of parables. You’re taught that everything within it is the literal word of God and that the events actually took place in history. So regardless of how much schooling you have, it’s never okay to insult God or mock his existence.
If you’re thinking “I’ll just not say anything around Southern Conservatives,” you’re wrong. Many of the most staunch liberals are also religious in the South. Even I, a college educated progressive who knows that all evidence points to God not existing, still choose to believe in a higher power.
No worries, though, because you can rant about organized religion if you want. You learn really quickly, though, to make sure people understand this distinction.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT
This could be one of the most important things you learn as a liberal in the Deep South. You can have your beliefs. You can shout them from the rooftops if you want, but don’t be surprised when you end up wasting all of your time and making all of your neighbors despise you.
Whether you’re outside around the bonfire or inside enjoying an ice cold Bud Light, you want to try your best to not talk about politics. This is more for your benefit than anyone else’s. You’re not going to convince anyone of anything down here. And honestly, you’d have to quit your job and take up explaining things full time if you wanted to take on all of the illogical conservative beliefs you’ll run into down here.
“Obama is the antichrist? That’s great, grab me another beer.” “He was born in Kenya? Amazing, but I’m heading to Waffle House.” Just make things easier on yourself.
SOME PEOPLE ARE TOO FAR GONE
There have been studies on anti-vaxxers that prove that it’s easier to get through to a person by explaining the truth rather than insulting their inaccurate beliefs. This would lead you to believe that, by simply sitting down with southern conservatives and providing factual information to them, they’d eventually come around.
You can kiss that pipe dream goodbye. Yes, there are Southern conservatives who will listen to you and eventually be swayed by common sense, facts, and logic. Don’t kid yourself, though, by thinking they’re the majority.
For example, my sister-in-law was railing on how terrible President Obama is for the country. This of course led me to explain to her how far the unemployment rate had fallen, how the U.S. dollar was reaching its highest value in years, how the deficit had dropped tremendously, how the housing market was recovering and how we were constantly adding new jobs to the economy.
In return, she told me that she didn’t know if she believed those things. This was the rest of our conversation:
Me: “Those are facts. They’re statistics. I can look them up and show them to you.”
Sister-in-law: “Well, I don’t think I’d believe it anyway.”
Me: “So what you’re saying is that you’re going to believe whatever the hell you want to believe.”
Sister-in-law: “Yep, I’m going to believe whatever I want to.”
If you’re ever in the position of being a liberal in the South, I suggest just not wasting your time with common sense.
This might be the biggest lesson you take away from being a liberal in the South. Patience is always a virtue, but if you’re a progressive in Dixie, it’s an absolute necessity. This is because, regardless of how liberal you are, you’re going to have family members and longtime friends who are conservative.
If you don’t want to lose these individuals, your well of patience must run deep. At the age of 30, I am the oldest liberal in my family. This means my mother, older sister and two older brothers are all staunch conservatives. And trust me, we’ve all had discussions on politics. I just go in knowing that nothing is going to change.
Yes, I get some things across to them. In fact, I’m proud to report that my mother now comes to me when she hears something like “Obama didn’t salute the flag” or “They’re going to have death panels.” She asks me whether it’s accurate or not, so I’ve definitely made some headway there.
But if we’re talking about gay marriage, Islam or religion in general, I can guarantee you that they won’t be swayed. And because of this, you have to have patience. Without it, you’ll say things that you’ll later regret, and you’ll end up losing people or damaging relationships that literally mean the world to you.
In the end, being right simply isn’t enough incentive to lose the ones you love.
AND NOW YOU KNOW…
And that’s it, people. Now you have some inkling of what it’s like growing up liberal in the South. It’s not a cakewalk, but you definitely emerge a more in-depth and understanding person for it. Being a progressive in the South isn’t the most ideal existence, but without those who live this day-to-day life, there would be no hope for change down in this neck of the woods.