When I told my friends I was moving to The South, I heard a lot of jokes about rednecks and whatnot. There is a perception that there is a lot of deep-rooted racism in this region, and 50 years after the civil rights movement, this perception about the South continues to be pervasive.
The irony of this generalization is that I have more minority neighbors now in Greensboro than I ever did on highly-segregated Long Island. In fact, a study was done that found Long Island was the most segregated suburb in the United States.
As a region, the South has an uphill battle when it comes to erasing perceptions about Southerners. And now there is a politician in Alabama whose political views won't help matters at all. Larry Darby is the Democratic candidate for the position of Alabama Attorney General, and among other controversial viewpoints, he denies the Holocaust occurred. "There was no systematic extermination of Jews. There's no evidence of that at all." said Darby.
He spoke this past weekend in New Jersey for National Vanguard, an organization that claims the United states can become "a clean, orderly, progressive, safe, and incomparably richer and more beautiful nation if it becomes a proud White nation again." Darby says that "It's time to stop pushing down the white man. We've been discriminated against too long,"
There are racists and bigots everywhere, but the most startling angle to this story comes from a recent poll about the race for Alabama Attorney General. The survey showed 21 percent favored Tyson to 12 percent for Darby, but 68 percent of respondents were undecided. It's quite sad to me that nearly 80 percent of those polled are considering voting for Darby, considering the statements he's made.
All of this reminded me of Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd's song battle "Southern Man" and "Sweet Home Alabama," both of which focused on the generalization that Southerners are racist. Thrashers Wheat, a Neil Young fansite, does an excellent job of chronicling the history of the two songs here.
Neil Young (from Southern Man):
better keep your head
what your good book said
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama):
In Birmingham they love the governor
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth