I had a cousin ask me what it’s like being a liberal in the South. She lives in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the country according to Forbes. Well I’m in Memphis which is also on the list of most liberal, but my family, and the majority of the South, does not fall into that category.
From my viewpoint we, the South, are progressing. I surround myself with people that are like minded though. Once I venture outside of that “safe zone,” it really is another world. One that the majority of my family lives in. They’re still stuck 50 or so years in the past.
You’re supposed to be able to count your family among your biggest supporters, right? Well, when it comes to politics, we are polar opposites. My parents and grandparents are Democrats, but even then, we don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of the issues. My husband’s family are all republican and that is where a lot of the side eye and the oppositional comments come from. And they do comment.
There’s no reasoning with them. They only see things through their very narrow window.
Voting for What I Believe In
I encountered a lot of resistance during the Obama years. The “he’s a Muslim” comments, the “he’s trying to destroy our country” arguments. All because I proudly voted for him. At the core, it didn’t matter what his policies were, just the fact that he was a Democrat was cause enough. Someone even remarked, “I know she has the right to vote, but she really shouldn’t be allowed to if she’s going to vote for him.”
During the last election cycle it was a barrage of anti-Hillary sentiments. And after the election, I had a family member try to start a fight with me at my mother’s wedding. I wish I were kidding. But I’m not. And this was just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to day to day events in the news, there are comments then too.
Caring About the News
The Black Lives Matter movement is a huge argument. They cry, “All lives matter!” and “What about the police officers?” and “If they didn’t want to be shot, they shouldn’t have been doing something illegal.” When I respond with facts, like about Philando Castile and how he was cooperating, there’s still rebuttal.
“Well, he shouldn’t have had a gun.” You mean like you do?
There’s no reasoning with them. They only see things through their very narrow window. Most recently, the kneeling at NFL games has become the new hot button conversation. “This is America and you respect the flag here!” I tried explaining that it wasn’t about the flag, that it goes back to the way people of color are treated in America, but that fell on deaf ears.
Building a Better Future
I recently became a volunteer for Planned Parenthood. I’m firmly pro-choice, if that’s not blatantly obvious- but since people are complex I’ll share it outright. I’m very proud and excited about this new volunteer position. My extended family on the other hand, not so much. One person even went as far as to make a comment about it on the internet. About how sad and sick they were about this and how Planned Parenthood is a baby-killing business.
Making a difference in this world is more important than disagreement.
See, most people here only focus on that. They ignore the bigger part that it’s a health clinic that offers affordable services to thousands of people every year, my own sister included. Earlier this year she found a lump in her breast and Planned Parenthood was there for her without a second thought. They provide birth control and STI testing. But this isn’t a love letter to them. I’ll write that another day.
Here in the south, if you’re pro-choice, pro-LGBT, in favor of stricter gun laws, etc, you’re treated as though you have a leg growing out of your head. People, your family and friends, tell you that you’re a bad person for the things that you believe and support.
I’ve had bible verses sent to me after going to Pride. Sat through dinners where “those people that support that kind of thing” are made fun of. I’ve heard that I’m going to hell. They’ll pray for my soul. This from people who claim to be Christian.
Speaking Up for What’s Right
I’ve been unfollowed and unfriended. I’ve been called awful names for being a feminist. Does this stop me? No. I kept my beliefs to myself for too long. I did think twice about who I was keeping company with or where I was before sharing my opinions once upon a time.
I don’t want them to doubt that love and an open mind will get you farther in life than hate and a narrow way of thinking.
I no longer worry about what they’ll think of me. I am not bothered that they might be offended by my posts on social media. When it comes down it, I’m not concerned with their reaction to this article. Making a difference in this world is more important than disagreement.
I want to speak up and raise the voices that no one in my community wants to listen to. I want my children to know that it’s ok to not follow the crowd and believe what everyone else does. I want them to know that they can stand up and be proud of what they believe in. I don’t want them to doubt that love and an open mind will get you farther in life than hate and a narrow way of thinking. If they choose to be conservative, well we just won’t talk politics. Ever.