June 13, 2017

The Hard Truth: I'm a Southerner

So here's the thing...I simultaneously love and loathe the denigration of the South. When we propose or pass some asinine law that expands gun "rights", taxes hybrid/electric vehicles and police transgender bathroom usage or when we commemorate Robert E. Lee with a holiday I think we are deserving of derision.

On the other hand, every time I hear Mike Huckabee talk about "flyover country" and "bubbaville" I cringe. This recoil is because Huckabee generalizes the South as a group of simple people who somehow represent the "true America". While I disagree and counter that we are merely a part of America and not the totality of America, I take umbrage most with his implication that the Southerners are by large simple people.

(Credit: Allison McCann and Walt Hickey/FiveThirtyEight)

Don't get me wrong, I do disdain the South more often than not. However, when someone like Huckabee appoints himself as the unofficial champion of a group that I am unintentionally apart of...I dig deep and rail against his commentary on behalf of my birthplace. As someone who has a Ph.D., a Mother Jones subscription, listens to NPR and leans liberal, it's safe to say I fit the "coastal elite" mold as per Huckabee's guidelines. Despite this, I'm a Southerner. I was born, raised, and educated in Arkansas. This gives gives me the unique privilege of confounding Huckabee and those like him with my criticisms.

I deplore a description of Southerners as simple because I'm a Southerner and I'm not simple. What I detest even more so is when the South leans in and owns this moniker of ignorance. The South is the origination point of J. William Fulbright* who aided in the creation of the United Nations. The South produced writers Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). The South gave this country civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and LGBT icon Ellen DeGeneres. It also yielded Jimmy Carter who, regardless of your views of his presidency, established an organization that has nearly eradicated Guinea worm disease.

So there it is. I'm inundated with these confederate-loving Clampett caricatures so yeah, when a pundit or satirist rightly lambastes the South, a part of me loves it. But then the other shoe drops and I realize I'm a defacto Southerner. So the only choice I have is to shine a light on all the Southern scholars in hopes that I can help elevate society's view of this region. The only other option would be, since I am in Rome, to do as the Romans...but I refuse to lower myself to stereotypical southern standards.

*While Senator Fulbright stood up to McCarthyism, railed against the Vietnam War, supported international relations and advocated for education, he was also a staunch segregationist which makes my stomach turn. This is by no means a defense of his position but when your state is best known for Walmart, the Duggars and slick Willy it's hard to conjure a prominent native that is truly beyond reproach. 

May 22, 2017

A Year and a Half with Holland

We recently got back images from Holland's 18-month photoshoot -- captured by our dear (and talented) friend Niki Zimmerman. We can't help but share some of our favorites here. It is so hard to believe that there was once a time that this little spark of life didn't exist. We love her so much and everything we do is for her -- yes, even all the political postings!

This child - this tiny, amazing creature - deserves the very best. And so does your child. And everyone else's child. Today, as I look through these images, I am hopeful that will happen. We will make a place deserving of them.