Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Not-So-Surprising Home of Southron Culture Up North

My blood runs Southron. That is to say, I was born in the North, but my ancestry lies in the South. My Georgia-born father wasn't middle-named "Lee" for nothing. I don't make it down to Dixie as often as I used to, but I did make two trips two years ago, one of which included a family reunion for my great aunt's ninetieth birthday.

Up here in the North where I was born and raised, I work for a university that specializes in the STEAM fields, and is thus pretty White. My department is White to a man, or rather, a woman, since apart from the other administrator, I'm the only male. (Yeehaw!) Cross-departmentally, I also travel in pretty White circles, like with one or two Black faces in a crowd of one-hundred at times. We're not a bunch of Ku Kluxers (unlike a great uncle of mine), though; I once participated in a search committee for a managerial position equivalent to my own, and the most qualified candidate out of fifty turned out to be a Black male from my alma mater, and our decision was hands-down, with neither doubt nor reservation, and unanimous.

Today, I attended the Blackest event of my four years here. It was a professional development workshop based around the book Bringing Out the Best in Others!: 3 Keys for Business Leaders, Educators, Coaches and Parents. The facilitator was an engaging and matronly Black woman. My co-participants came less from the managerial classes I normally run with and more from support staff and facilities management folks, with the expected high percentage of Black females in the former group and Black males in the latter. While not majority minority, the group was far more "inclusive" than any I usually participate in.

I felt strangely at home. The familiarity and the free references to family and faith, along with the joviality and jocularity of the interplay between facilitator and participants were a welcome change to what I am used to in my work environment. As I walked back to my department it dawned on me that I was reminded of my extended family down South! Of course my Black co-Rochesterians' ancestors brought this same culture up with them during the Great Migration!

All in all, it was a welcome little midday epiphany about our great land, which I tried sharing to no avail with two of my dearest Yankee colleagues. I was met not with hostility but with utter incomprehension. I am sure my Russian colleague will understand when I tell her tomorrow, as she has noticed in her travels throughout the US the better day-to-day race-relations which exist down South.

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2 Comments:

Blogger papabear said...

As you may gather there aren't many flying the Battle Flag here in California; perhaps there are still a few descendants of Southern families who moved out here remaining in the state.

September 9, 2015 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

You see the Battle Flag around here in Upstate New York more than you'd expect, but I suspect it's more political than a sign of Southron heritage. You also see "Fuck Cuomo" bumper-stickers where the "f" and the "k" are shaped liked assault rifles, referring our governor's gun-grabbing "Safe Act."

September 10, 2015 at 9:37 PM  

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