Thursday, July 09, 2015

South Carolina : I Am A Child of the South

©2015 WF Posey || My Mother Mary Christine Hutto and her bothers and sister.
2 brothers and one sister not shown. Uncle Fred (Butch) Hutto on the lower right.

Child of the South || The Shattered Myth, A New Southern Strategy

I am, perhaps not uniquely, a child of complex history. While in my adult life, my professional and spiritual life identifies with and works and lives within my American Indian ancestry, I was born in the south. I am a child of the southern culture in as many ways as I am or am not a worthy child of those Ojibwe ancestors.

I was born, in fact, in South Carolina; in Bamberg County, in Bamberg itself. Much of what is my nature, honestly both good and bad, is from my nuture experience as a child in a southern culture. My life-long work within the American Indian culture, also a part of my heritage, has often eclipsed that Southern part...but it is always there, some operational part of my attitudes and passions.

I remember, in these later years, so many sweet circumstances and adventures very precious to recall. Southern Hospitality was once legendary. Welcome everyone. Food was often used to bring everyone together. As a child I attended beyond counting BBQ, Socials, Holiday diners and other feasts that instilled in me that, in a southern home, the center of the home and family and community, was the Kitchen Table.

When I was a child, we had relatives who lived deep in the forest in Bamberg County. We had to park the car, my father always favored Chrysler products, and walk down long and narrow foot paths to the house. For a kid, this was a great experience. Of course these days, all those old deep forest farms are gone and everyone has a driveway…yet even today, many of them are red dirt.

It was a childhood swmming in the new great lake at the border with georgie; old Xlark Hill resevoir. I had several Uncles who helped build that lake, heavy euipment operators. My oldest Uncle, Fred (we called him “Butch”) was  a forman on the building for many years, his wife the Administrator/Manger of the lake for many years. I floated and payed and fished and lived on that lake every summer from the time I was 8 or 9 until I was 18.

My Uncle Fred, in the summer months, always held and hosted at least one major BBQ and Fish Fry. There was always a full pig barbequed in the old way. Uncle Fred had a “black man”, a local man he knew for years and years, cook this pig all night the day before. Quite often the 4th of July was when this scene came together. I don’t recall this man’s name. Last time I saw him I was 16 years old. My two coinsins, Fred’s sons, and I always stayed up all night with this man and “helped” him cook that pig. Those nights with that man are some of my most precious memories. My cousins and I had our first sip of Moonshine on those sultry summer nights. Moonshine and cigarettes. And ghost stories. We would stay up all night: it takes about 14 hours to pit cook a fully grown pig. As far as eating meat goes, it does not get any better than this. The "black man" of course did not eat with the family and was invisible to everyone but Uncle Fred and my cousins and I.

Today, and in recent years I spend some time observing, and lamenting, the political scene in South Carolina. In the daily debacle that has become the absurdity of the United States congress and the United States Senate, South Carolina unfortunately is to often at the center of that sorry situation:

Take the senior US Senator of South Carolina: Lindsay Graham. Political posturing of the bat shit crazy variety. 

 Over and over. For. years. 

 Yet, since opening a candidacy for the US Presidency, has said some quite reasonable and charming things…showing us with unfortunate clarity that his US Senator hob is driven by posturing alone. That seems unforgiveable to me. Trusting someone who so easly becomes a song and dance man for the lunatics to the right of reason in the US Senate. I feel only shame every day that Graham is the senator of South Carolina….what does it say about the people of that state that this is their man? That is perhaps the most surprising part…not that Graham has the ambitions that he does, but that the good people of South Carolina agree with him.

On the other hand, I learned all my lessons about the importance and value of respecting women from my mother, herself a child of South Carolina. Southern manners and courtesy towards women is itself, once upon a time, quite legendary. Then came Governor Nikki Haley, demonstrating yet another dimension to the tragedy of consciousness dominating the politics of that state. And. Contributing to the severe bullshit overload dominating American politics right now. Haley, like lunatic fringe, ugly bag of mostly water, Gov. "Bobby" Jindal, is an "immigrant" from India. Both of these two strange people posture as children of the south, putting in the trash every clue, symptom and trace of their actual heritage (which seems perverse to me). There are a lot of these transplanted, "trans-Southern" actors in South carolina politics at this moment.

It stretches my inborn instinct of support for women, this Gov. Haley. She is to bizarre to talk about. When she lifts her voice to get rid, at last, of the confederate flag that floats over the state capital, the vote in the South Carolina senate agress, as it should…but this is a smokescreen. As the bill to advance the removal of the flag, a single white South Carolina senator has added more than two dozen amendments to this simple bill. This behavior is designed to kill the bill to remove the flag…all while keeping a pretty low profile. To protect the racist flag. A message to the Governor, a message to the klan.

South Carolina has now several expensive, exquisite public monuments, the best ones with enclosures, landscaping and enclosed in the manner of shrines. The founder of the klu klux klan. A celebrated hero from North Carolina to Louisiana.

Hundreds of bridges, public buildings, highways, schools and parks are named after the most notorious protectors of the slave trade. Without being loud about it, this particular face of South Carolina eclipses all other possible ways to look at that state and its people.

Posturing. The New Modified Southern Strategy, Part Two. I grew up knowing boys like Lindsay Graham. Boys who never had a date with the girls. There is a type of man in South Carolina that is androgynous. Graham is probably not gay, he is probably not even heterosexual like a normal manly man. I had several relatives, males, who showed the exact inflection, style, “wa” as the Japanese describe the manner…boys with lonely childhoods and subjected to multi-generational rumors and gossip (but quietly).

We have an aggressive leadership that has one unforgivable flaw: they do not believe the words that come out of their own mouths. This is political machine politics at its most desperately determined. A formidable force. In fact.

It is fascinating that the African American community stayed so calm in the face of the recent massacre of some great citizens, beloved citizens, by a skinny, deficient nothing of a confused white boy. No riots. No swat police out in tanks. Quiet. Dignified. Suspicious perhaps.

Finally, early in the morning, 1 AM, on the 9th of July, 2015, the vote was passed to remove this damned flag. At least on the lawn of the South Carolina State House grounds. There was an embarrassing amount of posturing from the white GOP, nearly fatal posturing...but it was finally burst by the emotional and moving outburst of passion and sufferance by Rep. Jenny Horne...and she really laid it on the line; a really great little speech. 10 AM, 10 June, 2015. The "flag" will come down. At least from in front of the South Carolina State House.

an editorial muse
Turtle Heart, aka William Fredric Posey, aka "Skipper" in SC.

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