For a few split seconds when I put on this t-shirt my Momma gave me for my birthday, I wondered if it might offend someone. Screw that. I won’t apologize for being southern. I won’t apologize for saying screw that either.
After I read the article about students being offended by a fake cotton centerpiece at the President of Lipscomb University’s home, first I checked to see if it was posted from a satirical news site. It wasn’t. Next I rolled my eyes and became angry all at the same time.
We are walking the thinnest of lines when a row crop becomes offensive.
It’s. A. Plant.
I grew up on a cotton farm and yes, my family still grows cotton. I am proud of my farming heritage. I won’t apologize for hardworking parents and grandparents who worked from can to can’t to give me a better life. I won’t feel bad for loving the Delta soil, the Mississippi River, collard greens, country music, gravel roads, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Where do we draw the line? Will everything southern soon be offensive because of the horrors of slavery? And NO, I’m not making light of slavery, so don’t tell me I am.
Here’s the thing. I have a story, too. I have a personal history that involves cotton, and my memories won’t be minimized by someone else’s sensitivity to it.
When I look at a cotton field, I see a gorgeous sunrise. A cotton trailer waiting to be hauled to the gin. A childhood that wasn’t perfect, but one that existed because of farming. As a society, if we are going to be offended by every commodity, industry, every thing ever associated with slave trade, well, our world will be an empty place. We will never move forward.
Many crops have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. These hard-working farm families feed and cloth us. Go ahead and be offended by a piece of fake cotton decoration, but be prepared to be highly affronted by soon-to-come skyrocketing prices on your favorite blue jeans and breakfast bars. Because that’s how the real world works.
I never imagined I’d have to worry about whether or not the handmade cotton boll patterned quilt on my couch might be upsetting to someone. Not that I’m worried about it.
I will always support hardworking farmers. I’ll continue decorating with cotton pulled straight from our fields. I’ll cook my favorite southern dishes in Nana’s beloved cast iron skillet. I’ll focus my efforts on issues like hunger and literacy and try to help those in need. I won’t apologize for being southern.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Food. Farm. Garden. Life.
Alabama, High Cotton