How a Damn Yankee Fell in Love with the South

The road went ever on and led me here.

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Lookout Mountain — Chattanooga Tennessee

Otherness

Before I was even a Yankee, I was a member of the first South Asian family to move to a small town outside of Philadelphia in the 70s. I grew up keenly aware of my brownness. Until the fourth grade, I was the only person of color in a classroom.

How presumptions get started

People made presumptions about me because of their lack of familiarity with someone who isn’t Caucasian but isn’t African-American either. But once they wrapped their brains around me not being African-American or Native American, they settled in.

Southern stereotypes

I grew up in the 80s. My two main visuals of the South were Dukes of Hazzard and Urban Cowboy. If anybody reading this is too young to remember either of those, the characters were stereotypical charming bumpkins who, of course, did not represent the entire South.

The uncomfortable part of southern history

My first real trip to this part of the country was when I visited South Carolina with my then-boyfriend to attend his family reunion. South Carolina was beautiful, but I ended up visiting a plantation that haunts me to this day.

Moving beyond my limited perceptions

My limited perceptions started to change when I made my first visit to Atlanta in 2008, and I had a blast. My subsequent trips comprised of non-stop fun and meeting new people from all walks of life. Atlanta became my Las Vegas. Whatever happened here stayed here.

Creating connection

I’ve connected with more of them here than I did up North.

The true nature of the South

People offer their help if they like you, I find. They might not even be that close to you, but if you are connected to someone who is, then they’ll extend their hand to you. Once you have a Southerner’s loyalty, you have it.

What I know now

I only know what I know. And what I know is the connection I have to the South is genuine. Since I’ve lived here, I’ve started to feel like the true nature of the South is connection and loyalty.

Written by

Former teacher who retired early to pursue a passion for writing. Personal development content writer and fiction author. Dog mom. www.sameenakmughal.com

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