These thoughts were originally posted on my former website The View From 5022. As it is timely to note that the struggle for respect is still going on, (Go Tigers!), my pride in my home state(s) continues to grow.
It hasn’t been easy being raised in the Carolinas…but it is getting better. There is so much stigma associated with both North and South Carolina and so few people are willing to look below the historical or political surface. I have lived in both North and South Carolina 99% of my life and I can tell you, I have found much to be proud of.
Until my recent move, I lived in Western North Carolina for 35 years. Those who don’t know better, make a generalized assessment and say I lived in Appalachia. Whether that is geographically accurate or not, is not my concern; my concern has to do with the fact that most people who don’t know better, also think the term Appalachian is synonymous (or interchangeable) with ignorant, being backwards, or poorly educated.
I was born, raised, and educated in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The people who don’t know better, consider Charleston to be the birthplace of slavery and the Civil War.
Trust me, it is not easy being from states formerly represented by Strom Thurman, Jesse Helms, John Edwards, and even some lesser-known, local scoundrels. We’ve had flag issues, scandals, corruption, and, yes, ignorance. I recall years in a row when South Carolina seemed to come in 51st in the list of SAT scores, by state.
By the way, I just did an internet search on the term Bible Belt, and according to Liberapedia, “The Bible Belt is the part of the United States where strict fundamentalist Christianity dominates life (Also known as the deep south).” Excuse me?!? I will not get side-tracked by how much is wrong with that definition.
The people of North and South Carolina have had to fight, tooth and nail, for respect. Even the beloved inspirational speaker Dabo Swinney remarked that, even after being totally undefeated, the Clemson Tigers were still considered ‘underdogs,’ unknown, and unrecognized as worthy opponents.
So, while I am on the subject, has anyone noticed how the Carolinas are, and have been, a seat of Athletic Excellence?!?! Let’s look at the record. Basketball: Duke (spit) and, yes, Duke is in North Carolina, right down the street from (fanfare, please) The University of North Carolina (GO HEELS !!!); Football: South Carolina (spit, but not too shabby), North Carolina (again, a very strong performance), and CLEMSON. My orange heart pounds proudly. Even The Citadel made me proud this year. And, now, the Carolina Panthers are going to Super Bowl 50. I’m not much into professional sports, but, hey, I am proud! Take notice, you who are ignorant; the Carolinas are an athletic force to be contended with.
And we have so much more to be proud of. Let’s start with Appalachia, again; The people in the back ‘hollars’ of the mountains of Western North Carolina have a sense of music, poetry, and wisdom that goes unrivaled, in my opinion, (and my opinion counts because this is my blog.) In Charleston, grace trumped evil in the actions of the blessed souls of Mother Emmanuel AME Church, last summer. And the flag did come down for the right reasons.
Furthermore, we have beauty, culture, and gentility. Get off of the interstates (and beyond the ‘Title Loan District’ of Travelers Rest) and you will find breathtaking beauty: farms, forests, waterfalls, swamps, mountain ranges, ocean shores, lakes, and, yes, many many churches. Even our interstates often present amazing vistas. Influential artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, scientists, educators, doctors,… The Carolinas have raised them all. Even today, Carolinians are known for their good manners, hospitality, and propriety.
You may think what I have said is baloney, especially if I count you among the ignorant, but be enlightened; the Carolinas are a wonderful place, held graciously in the hand of God, striving to do better, look better, and be better…than everywhere else.
Again, to quote Mr. Swinney, I’m ALL IN.
Addendum: Ahem!!! 2017 National Football Champions…PROVEN the Best. GO TIGERS And now the North Carolina Tarheels and the South Carolina Gamecocks are going to the Final Four. Awesome.