Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Last Weekend's Epiphany on The South

Last weekend, Dr Desert Flower and I went down the hill on Alga Road to go see Free State of Jones at the Cinépolis in Carlsbad.  It exceeded expectations, despite what the critics on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes say, it was a great film that shined a light on the racist, bigoted, arcane & persecutory laws & culture engrained in The South - in this case Mississippi.  McConaughey was great in it, but so were Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, and a host of other excellent actors.  Having lived 16 years of my life in South Carolina, I can talk about how it felt, what I heard, and what I saw when I lived there... I'm not an outsider who never lived nor experienced the hatred and bigotry in the work place, in public places, and in conversations about it with my friends and co-workers who were trying to rise above the ugly, despicable, evil past that ensconced The South before, during, and after the Civil War, and still lives and breathes today (sorry SCOTUS, racism and bigotry are NOT dead even after we elected a black President; they're still alive and well in many parts of The South.

Then, when we got home after the movie, we watched Bryan Cranston in the HBO movie All the Way, where he portrayed LBJ accurately.  The movie portrayed the hatred and bigotry of The South (again, Mississippi leading the way... but other Southern States agreed with them) very accurately as well.  Not only was it well acted, but well written, nuanced, well researched, and well directed.

After watching both of these films so close together, whose settings were 100 years apart, but which accurately and poignantly portrayed the racism and hatred in The South that is still alive today, I am resolved that I never want to move back there and live there again.  Perhaps in another 100 years, after I am ashes, the progress seen since the Civil Rights legislation was passed in the 1960s MIGHT continue and the old entrenched racists die off, with their progeny becoming slightly more progressive and color-blind - similar to how Gay Rights & Equality was unthinkable 20 years ago by main stream America, and now it is an accepted fact for 95% of the country.  But I won't see it in my lifetime.

I am not a hater, and I still firmly believe that there are many very nice, very accepting, very civil & loving people in The South, both in the states that voted for George Wallace, and in the states that didn't.  I've met and worked with many of them, or they were my neighbors & friends.  But the fact remains, that there's a solid double digit percentage block of Southerners who still think lynching is a good idea if they can get away with it, who believe Klan meetings are an acceptable form of social gathering, and who have a false-superiority complex in regards to anyone who is not Caucasian - black, brown, Asian, Jewish, Catholics, Sikh, Muslims, included in their fearful hatred & loathing.  Trump's tapping into their base with his rhetoric and his re-tweets of white supremacists, and "the worst" is manifesting itself amoung us in America.  I do hope that in November 2016 we can close the Trump chapter and not open up a "Wallace 2.0" era of the American political landscape.

No, I'll take the multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-lingual melting pot that is California,
any day over any of the nicest places in The South.  Yes, it is expensive to live in California, but the weather is great, the people are nicer, the hatred is (I've seen) less wide-spread, the wildlife is more diverse, the waves are at least 10X better than the East Coast, the population is more heterogeneous & diverse & growing (+300,000 residents last year! We're gonna add another congressman or two at least in the next census, making the most populace state even more populace!), the businesses RUN BETTER and are safer (and growing), the wine is better, Science is accepted and not argued against or 'disbelieved', the State budget is balanced (after getting a Democratic governor, finally!), the humidity is lower (in Northern San Diego County, at least), religion is less invasive & pervasive, and the people are more accepting of everyone, not just those who look like themselves.

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