The history of Black folks in The South is a complicated one. Of course it begins with the horrible Trans-Atlantic slave trade which brought the majority of our ancestors here. Add in Reconstruction and the enduring legacy of Jim Crow, and it’s easy to see why some of you may be frowning as to why this makes the list of things to love in The South. But pain is just one side of the African-American history in the region.
The South is also the place where our ancestors developed a strong sense of community and faith. Having no where else to turn to, they developed an inner strength that they took with them as they moved around the country. Today, many African-Americans have returned to their Southern roots and the region is better for it.
It’s no secret: Southerners love to eat. Being a native Southerner who considered my yearly trips to Virginia traveling north, I was surprised to find that many of my favorite brands and restaurants were not nationwide. I couldn’t fathom the fact that the cherry goodness that is Cheerwine was not stocked on shelves around the country. I also find it funny that whenever my friends come down, the first thing the want to do is run to Bojangles or Cookout.
Funny story: I recently met someone who relocated to North Carolina after being born and raised in New York. She asked why there were so few “Soul Food” restaurants in The South. I told her the simple truth: If anyone wants soul food, they’ll just go to their grandma’s house.
Being a big sports fan, I’m just starting to realize how great we have it in The South. In just my native North Carolina, we have just about everything you could want. Our autumns are dominated by football: high school sports on Friday night, ACC or HBCU football on Saturday and NFL football on Sundays (Though my Panthers’ performance this season have made it hard to watch.) The winter months are dominated by ACC basketball and those in Charlotte have the Bobcats (Hey, there’s always next year.) Go a little further south and you run into SEC country, where football is damn near a religion for many folks.
2. Curvy Women
Of course, curvy women are not unique to The South, but they are generally welcomed. I’ll be brief since I really expounded on this in an earlier post. As conservative as Southerners can be on many issues, Southern men have been very liberal when it comes embracing women with fuller figures. Women who may be judged to be fat in other areas of the country are considered “pleasantly thick” south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Born out of exclusion with the goal of educating former slaves and their descendants after the Civil War, HBCUs have been the incubator for many of our greatest leaders (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, Thurgood Marshall) and our greatest movements. From fighting segregation in the Jim Crow days to rallying behind President Obama, HBCU students have helped change the world. Though they are no longer the only option for African-Americans to pursue higher learning, they are still producing top-notch talent in all fields. As a product of an HBCU, I feel compelled to tell the world about the greatness of these institutions.
Missed my last post? Mixed Baby Madness