When I first moved to Alabama from North Carolina, I was surprised when I bought my first set of groceries at the local grocery store. I bought the same items I would usually buy, but something was different. These same items, it seemed, cost much more here, no matter what store I went to. When I travel to North Carolina, I stock up on pantry goods at the discount food stores to bring back with me. As my students in my class and I have been researching local circumstances of poverty, we have been delving into the politics behind such. Two states apply their full sales taxes to home food consumption, with no additional rebates to offset any costs: Alabama and Mississippi. These Deep South states are also ones that hold some of the most regionally-vulnerable populations in regard to poverty. Grassroots organizing has a place in this issue that affects people on the local level of their homes.
If y’all have not heard, Beyoncé came out with a new song called Bow Down/I Been On (if you want to listen to it, Google it). The chorus of the song consists of her constantly repeating the line, “bow down (derogatory term for a woman that will not be used here)”. Well, as you can imagine, this has raised quite a stir. Some people are surprised by the tone of the song. Others actually liked and enjoyed the song. But then there are others (like me) who believe that the song flies in the face of her past statements on female empowerment and being a feminist.
But then I started thinking: what is my role in questioning Beyoncé’s feminism? Is that even something I can do? As a man who self-identifies as an ally of feminism, what is my space to comment on matters regarding a movement that I can only be attached to from the outside?
Meagan M. O’Nan is a guest blogger for The South Lawn. She is a spiritual leader, life coach, and Mississippi native (among many other amazing things). The original blog piece can be found on Meagan’s blog.
For video of the interview that Meagan describes, see the original blog post.
Almost two years after moving back to Mississippi, I got a call one morning from our local television station (this interview was a good 8 months ago, now). The producers asked me if I would be willing to come in and talk about my perspective on same-sex commitment ceremonies being allowed in state buildings. The reason this conversation was a hot topic was because a same-sex couple applied to have a commitment ceremony in a state building in Jackson, Mississippi. This didn’t go over well with most people, but there was no law in place to keep the couple’s application from being dismissed. Ultimately, they were given permission to have their ceremony, but most of the state was in an uproar. The television station wanted me to come on and talk about how this made me feel as an openly gay woman. They mentioned that they would be having someone else come on and talk with me, but they didn’t tell me who.
I was listening to a few friends discuss their adjustment to living in Boston. One friend is from the West Coast originally, and was remarking that although where he’s from is legally somewhat centrist, socially it’s a very progressive environment (ripe for activism). He was remarking that Boston is the exact opposite. Rife with legal protections, he says (including marriage equality and one of the most forward-thinking state-level LGBTQ youth commissions in the country), it’s been difficult for him to agitate and organize for social change. He says the vibe is different.
He should come and visit me in Alabama.
The care of oneself without medical, professional, or other assistance or oversight.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde
Self-care is something that I have had strong feelings about for a good while now. Being involved in progressive politics, it has been a topic that has come up around me from time to time. Every time it has come up, I have discussed my thoughts on the concept with the same general feeling:
I hate it.
Voting rights have emerged as a crucial issue, again. In the 2012 election, many issues regarding voter rights emerged across the United States. These issues are continuing to grow, and the groups that have the most at stake with new voting requirement laws are the most vulnerable, those who perhaps need to express their electoral voice the most. What I want to discuss today is not so much the idea of the voting rights, but, rather, the issue of regional privilege and power within the South. It is time for southern progressives to come together and build each other up in the fight for a Blue South.
I was visiting Cottonmouth, which is a fantastic progressive blog in Mississippi, when I came across this video calling for the expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):
The ad seemed real polished, and it seemed like it would connect with many low-income and working-class voters. I say many instead of most or all because of the following passage from the same video:
They’re saying no to 9,000 new jobs and almost $1 billion of economic activity in our state, and they are leaving 200,000 of our neighbors in the cold. Working families, not freeloaders; preventing them from getting decent medical care.
I just cannot understand this.