I was born in Baton Rouge. I lived in New Orleans for the first decade of my life. I spent my summers in Mississippi with my grandmother in Vicksburg. I now live in Georgia. I'm a true Southerner, and proud of it.
Let me assure you much of the South is nothing like the recent portrayal by Christopher Hitchens in his article “My Red-State Odyssey” in the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair. Hitchens makes sure to mention NASCAR, creationism, gun ownership, the confederate flag, and lest we forget, “… [Southerners’] offenses against chastity with either domestic animals or (the fact must be faced) with members of their immediate families.” That about covers it! Thanks Chris!
That’s it. I've had enough. The truth is, until now, almost nobody has given a crap about Louisiana and Mississippi. Or Alabama for that matter. Admit it. They never have. These states get little investment and little attention. They're red states, God forbid. They're even referenced in political discussions as "flyover" states -- as though they're simply taking up space between the important places. Their residents are considered poor and uneducated and oddball, and the rest of the United States usually uses them as the punch line in jokes. It's simply unfair.
During the height of the last election, I actually sat in a marketing meeting at a major corporation next to an account planner who said she thought only residents of New York and Los Angeles should be allowed to vote for the president of the United States -- as if the rest of us have no business choosing our government. Enough already. The people of the South and the rest of the "flyover" U.S. are regular, hardworking people and in most ways are no different than everyone else. The stereotypes need to end, as they only serve to perpetuate the feeling that money and resources would be better spent elsewhere. I have lived throughout the South, as well as in New York and DC. There's no more or less stupidity or quirkiness in the South than there is anywhere else, I promise you.
These states needed investment before, and now they need it even more. The victims of Hurricane Katrina deserve as much help as those of the Asian Tsunami or 9/11. I hate that so many people didn't leave when warned to evacuate. There were probably many who could have left. But there may have been just as many without transportation, without money to afford night after night in a hotel, without relatives' homes to go to. Not all of them are like the jerks you see on television walking off with flat-screen televisions after looting damaged stores.
Could we please take this opportunity to stop treating the South like the toilet of the United States? These are our fellow Americans. Please consider helping Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama whatever way you can, wherever you live. Go to www.redcross.org.