Here we go again…
There is a letter going around. An updated version of the same letter that came out after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. It goes on and on about what is wrong with the red states, many of them southern, and what is right about the blue states, many of them northeastern. The only problem with its logic, or lack thereof, is that blue states are mostly blue cities surrounded by red countryside. Granted, this is coming from someone who now lives in Ohio, in a blue city, who was born in Florida, in a blue town, and who was raised in Louisiana, in the bluest city ever, which has as much to do with the surrounding water as with political preferences.
The “open letter” is supposed to be funny, I know. And yet, I take it now just like I did in 2008: as divisive, troublesome, wrong-headed, and not really all that funny. Besides, if the blue states separated themselves from the red states, they’d miss out on Delta blues, Mardi Gras Indians, Dixieland jazz, hushpuppies, cornbread, soft-shell blue crab and some of that other gorgeous seafood that only comes from the Gulf of Mexico and the gorgeous meals that are only cooked up and served in the south, and a way of life that is based on a sense of place and a slower rhythm and neighbors that call to each other from their porches and stoops to come have an iced coffee, a slice of pecan pie.
The south defines who a lot of us are, and despite what self-righteous, blue-minded folks might think, I would move back home in a minute, to the big bathtub of wrong-minded, red-tinted fools. Because no matter where we live, we surround ourselves with like-minded friends, and if you have to color your friends, mine are of many hues, none of which include blue or red. How about the black and gold of a football team? How about the rose-gold of a sunset over the Mississippi River? How about the dark brown roux of a shrimp-and-okra gumbo? Those colors make a lot more sense to me.
There’s no less appreciation for all that is northeastern. When we want to see Broadway shows, hear Harvard lectures, eat Maine lobster, we’ll go and visit our friends in the so-called blue states, which are perhaps known better for their wry humor, intellectual asides, and cerulean waterways. We don't have to live there to share the same views. But we also don’t have to be unkind to each other, based on where we live or come from or would rather be.