One of XARK’s categories is “The South,” and it seems to me fitting that we allow the category to once again force the question, “What is the south?”
My very first post on XARK was a review of the film, “Searching for The Wronged-Eyed Jesus.” The film is a documentary in which, more or less, an “outsider” explores, and attempts to discover, an authentic South. Ultimately, my review turned into a rant about how ridiculous and off-putting are many representations of the south. Here, I want to take another brief turn at this topic. Or rather, I want to urge you to help me interrogate the topic by recounting two recent conversations I’ve had with colleagues (University faculty) who have lived for lengthy periods of time in some portion of the southern US.
In the first conversation, I was talking to a friend of mine who teaches at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. We were discussing one of our mutual friends who claimed that she would never take a job at any university in “the south.” While I always bristle when I hear such a statement, I’m honestly not all that surprised. It’s an attitude I’ve heard a great deal, especially from some of my Ivy Leagued educated colleagues and circle of friends. However, my colleague at NCSU gave a response to our mutual friend that was problematic on its own grounds. Here’s what he said (I’m paraphrasing): “I told her that she shouldn’t be so silly. She could move anywhere in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area because it’s really not the South. It’s not like that at all.”