Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If only closed minds came with closed mouths. ~ As seen on a button at evolvefish.com

Bigotry: noun The attitude, state of mind, or behavior characteristic of a bigot; intolerance. Irrational prejudice, suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.

And from Wikipedia: A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own.

Are you a bigot?

When you ask yourself that question, what thoughts come to mind? Am I prejudice against African-Americans, Hispanics or other races? I think, for the most part, that is the question we all ask ourselves. We define bigotry merely by how we view racial differences.

What about other deep seated prejudices that are just as ugly and just as painful for those "other" people we judge. Do you harbor that sort of bigotry? I bet at some level you do.

When I tell you that I live in Arkansas, what do you think? Do you see a person who is barefoot, wears overalls and chews straw? Do you think I'm "slow," live in a trailer park or am I a redneck who drives a junky pick-up truck with a gun rack?

My sister, Karen, received a card the other day from someone who knows both of us quite well; someone who is fairly educated and who I would consider fairly open minded, and yet this person felt completely comfortable ridiculing an entire group of people by making an offensive joke about the "language" spoken in Arkansas, broadly referencing farm animal noises. Would she make this same joke about an entire race of people or people of another country? I seriously doubt it. If she encountered someone who was obese or overly thin, would she ridicule and belittle them? Or, if she encountered someone who was physically disfigured, would tell jokes about them in their presence or make fun of their disability? Again, I seriously doubt it.

What is it about my living in the South that seems to piss people off so much that they think they have the right or have been given permission to degrade where I live, ridicule me, my friends and/or neighbors for choosing to live here, and revile our perceived lifestyles.

I'm sick of it. The jokes may be "all in good fun," but they are mean, inaccurate and they hurt. I may not live in the electric, busier and more crowded parts of the country ~ Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, just to name a few ~ but I can recognize when I am the butt of a joke. It is appalling to me that the very same people, many of whom are products of some of America's finest intellectual communities, who claim to embrace the diversity of their cities and this country, and assert a message of inclusiveness, and wouldn't even consider ridiculing a race of people, will exhibit a complete lack of sensitivity in their characterization and gross stereotyping of Southerners. But, don't call them elitest.

Just for the record...

  • I am an educated, retired, professional woman

  • Even though I lived in the country on a small farm for a number of years, I am not countrified. I do, however, love the outdoors and the peace and quiet of living in the country

  • I currently live in an upper middle class neighborhood and drive a car (a red convertible, not a pick-up truck) that is barely two years old

  • I don't own a pair of overalls, but I do own jeans, but prefer wearing them with a nice shirt, a blazer and shoes with a little heel

  • I wear some sort of footwear every single day, except when I'm bathing, swimming or sleeping, and I have a significant wardrobe of shoes, with handbags to match

  • I read (and comprehend the contents of) at least three newspapers a day, usually the New York Times, The Washington Post and/or the Wall Street Journal and at least one other local newspaper.

  • I vote based on my understanding of the issues, not how my pastor tells me to vote... and not because of a candidate's skin color

  • I like biscuits and gravy, but I ate them long before I ever moved here and I still make them better than anyone else I know, including other Southerners

  • I prefer a good martini or a glass of a good merlot to moonshine; a delicate veal Marsala or Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) to traditional Southern barbecue; a soft, silky Creme Brulee to a slice of pecan pie

  • And the only thing I chew is my food

So let me ask you...if you believe that racism is a result of the ignorance of those people who are racist, then what does it say about those bigots whose attitudes, intolerance or hatred of a group of people is based merely on the geographical location in the United States in which the group of people live?

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