What is a Southerner? Typically it is someone who lives in the South. Specifically that is the Southern states that make up the Confederacy and a few of the "border" states. With the immigration of Yankees, South Americans and other foreign nationals, this definition has gotten a little muddied. Seeing as how my family has lived in the South since they first arrived on this continent in 1772, and my great-great-grandfather fought for the CSA, I believe Iím fairly qualified to state what a Southerner is. Allow me to give you my definition of a Southerner.
Southerners are the people who live in or come from the South that are part of the Southern culture. I state it this way because there are Southerners that have moved outside of Dixie pursuing careers, or following some goal or perhaps a loved one. The Southern culture I mention is a combination of things: Food, music, customs, accents, religion, values and general ideas of how to conduct yourself and how the government should run. This doesnít cover everything, but this is a general set of issues that Southerners share in common. Southerners also have a common history associated with the region, and tend to come from a common group of ethnic groups.
This is where things get tricky. Most of the non-Southern people in America will say that Southerners are the White folks of Dixie. I say Southerners include not just Whites, but the Blacks and Hispanics of the South that have helped to shape our unique culture. To a degree larger than most realize, the American Indians have helped shape the Southern culture too. Now, not everyone will agree with me on this, but then again, folks donít always agree on what an American is. To support my argument that Southerners are made up of more than just the Southern Whites, look at the British. There are Blacks and East Indians that were born and raised in England and consider themselves to be British. By the way, they donít call themselves African-British or East Indian-English, they are just British (but the issue of using the term African-American can wait for another time).
Southerners have a culture so distinct from the rest of America that it is rather obvious who they are and where they come from. Granted, other regions have some of this too, but not to the extent we do in Dixie. The Southern "region" or "nation" is unique in that they have a flag or flags that represent their part of America, unlike other regions. It is also the only region of America whose culture is under attack. This comes not just as criticism, but in a concerted effort to totally wipe out our culture. The U.S. inside her borders, or outside of them wouldnít tolerate such "ethnic cleansing", as proven by the U.S. actions in Yugoslavia regarding the Kosovo Albanians. But it is allowed when it comes to the South.
On occasion, Iíve heard transplanted Yankees say how they have lived in the South long enough to where they are now Southerners. I question this. Have they come and held on to their Yankee ways, or have they truly been converted? I know that there are some Northerners who are "Southern in their hearts" and love the Southern culture. I understand this feeling because I love the Scottish and Irish cultures. But this doesnít make me Scottish or Irish anymore than these "Southern dreamers" are Southern. However, part of our Southern culture is world renown as "Southern Hospitality" and these Northern converts would be welcome in Dixie.
I love the South and everything about her and her people, regardless of the color of their skin or differences in religious beliefs. What I canít stand is someone who attacks Dixie, especially those Southerners that turn their backs on their home. These folks are called Scalawags. For those of you who are none believers in a separate Southern culture, let me ask you something. Do you think of an American who goes around bad mouthing America as an ungrateful traitor? If so, I think you can understand where Iím coming from when it comes to Scalawags. Southerners should honor their heritage and all the things great about the South, and the rest of American society should allow us to do this. The South truly is the best part of America.
April 6, 1999