South’s influence grows, has impact across nation
By Ronda Rich
A reporter from a prominent newspaper in Washington called for an interview because he was doing an article on the sudden hip-ness of the word "y’all."
Southern hip-hoppers, it turns out, have introduced the word into the slang vocabulary of the world’s hippest trendsetters.
It’s now cool, or hot, however you wish to look at it, to liberally sprinkle "y’all" throughout all conversation. Isn’t it nice to know that, if you stay true to your roots, you eventually will be christened trendy by kids in baggy britches?
In the course of the interview, the reporter asked, "Is America being Southernized or is the South being Americanized?"
This, of course, underscores what Southerners have always distinctly felt: That we are a nation within a nation and that we firmly command our domain while forcing our influence onto the rest of the country.
There is power in numbers, so the 14 states which are considered Southern by demographers account for a substantial portion of the nation’s population.
That is why, for the last few decades, a presidential ticket is considered incurably crippled without a Southern candidate.
In his book, "Dixie Rising," Peter Applebome of the New York Times, reported that if the 11 states that fought on the side of the Confederacy were broken away from the rest of America, you would have the world’s fourth largest economic power.
This isn’t surprising because Southerners, even when they’re knocked down such as in the case of textile mills closing, know how to hang on and ingeniously turn the situation around.
Industrious Southerners don’t stand still and let kudzu cover them.
As things go in today’s world, the answer to the question is no longer black and white, though it would be if it weren’t for Atlanta, which now belongs to America rather than to the South.
Atlanta is as much of an international city (a by-product of the Olympics) as Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. And, like those cities, you will be hard pressed to find much drawling and y’alling going on in the city once regarded as the queen of Southern cities.
But it is the exception. Not the rule.
Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, Raleigh, Richmond, Louisville, Little Rock, New Orleans, Dallas, Charlotte, Columbia, S.C., and Jackson, Miss., still are as Southern as a glass of sweet tea. And, mighty proud of it, too. America may have reached out and grabbed Atlanta in a stranglehold, but the rest of the South clings tenaciously to its Southern-ness and all that entails.
In short, the South influences American culture much more than it allows itself to be influenced. America’s most popular, enduring forms of music were birthed in the South. Listen closely and you’ll hear the strong Southern accent in gospel, jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and country.
The term Southern literature speaks for itself. Have you ever heard of northern or mid-western literature? As we like to say in the South, our people have won "boo coos" of Pulitzer prizes.
Additionally, Southern Baptist, which has been the denomination of several presidents and other key political figures, accounts for the Protestant majority.
Too, people are flocking to the South to live, choosing Southern life over non-Southern life while the percentage of Southerners who leave is tiny in comparison. These facts and statistics appear to answer the question of that Washington reporter.
All said and done, looks like America’s going South.