Accent and prejudice:
It’s official.  People who do not speak with southern accents attempt to look down on those who do. (Mind that Drawl, Y’all ECONOMIST vol. 412 no. 8899 August 9, 2014 page 25)  I’ve known that for a long time.  The villain in “5th Element,” who was particularly unsympathetic since he never actually had a survival plan, had a gratuitous Southern accent.  In “Dances with Wolves” even bad Yankee soldiers had Southern accents. 

I have a South Carolina accent, but I do not drawl.  The drawl, if we are to believe Albion’s Seed, was introduced by the slave owners from the south of England.  Many adopted the habit in their desire to ape the rich and powerful.  My Quaker ancestors were unimpressed.  So an outsider might think I did not have an accent, but a South Carolinian will pick right up on it.  And indeed, as the article points out, I do tend to use pure vowels.  “The,” properly pronounced “thuh” comes out in Yankee as “thuheee.”  “Pie,” or “pi” comes out “pahee.”  So I was duly mocked by Yankees in college whom I should have thought I could regard as friends.  The difference in manners struck me more than the difference in accent.  Eventually I came to understand that Yankees simply like to attack people verbally.  It makes them feel smart.  Well if you are going to like people, you are going to have to like them as they are.

They used to glory in saying I was racist.  When I thought about it, I could not remember any Black person (Of course back in those days we had not been told to call them that, far less African American.  It was Negro, although the “e” might slide over to an “i” in informal use.) ever being deliberately rude or unkind.  So I would challenge them with, “All right, you all, (of course I would use a bit of irony so that it came out “aw(silent l’s and silent “r”) i (silent “ee and ght) y(silent “ou”) a (silent oo, silent l’s)), maybe there’s prejudice against Negroes in the South, but it’s nothing like the prejudice against Yankees.”  That stunned them.  Better yet, it made them look stupid, which was the one thing they could not endure. 

I make enemies really easily.

Anyway, having read the article I notice something.  I do believe that the Black’s themselves drawl.  So when I use pure vowels I sound stupid because they think I sound Black and evidently they must think Black people are … do you see where this is going?  The prejudice against the Southern accent is racist, pure and simple.  It’s not reverse racist or any other clever designation, it’s racist, plain old smelly armpit racist.  And you know something?  Even that article in a liberal, highly self respecting, utterly self conscious journal doesn’t even notice it.  Thus are we blind-sided by racism.  Thus we protest our unprejudiced credentials in vain.

It’s just a reminder to me to treat all people fairly and to expect the same.  But it matters more than that.

When I say, “You need to marry kin or you are harming your children,” I step squarely on the racist button.  And once that happens you can forget about anybody thinking anything rational like “Oh, you mean out to say seventh cousin is all right but not beyond.  Well that has nothing to do with race at all, does it?”  Nope.  Ain’t gonna happen.

So away I plug.

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