“A Taste of Southern Charm”, published by The Heights on March 16, may be regarded as simply an interesting take on an adventure to another world. However, this article briefly brings to light an underlying issue I have faced at Boston College and ultimately one all people face in different ways.
The author of this piece acknowledged several stereotypes many people have about the South. The author states: “everything I knew about the South came from episodes of Duck Dynasty or progressive history lessons on the Civil War. Not to be dismissive, but the South didn’t come out looking so hot.” An area should not be defined, for example, by one show centered around one family working in one industry. During my first six months of college here in the Northeast, I have been exposed to similar statements regarding my home state of Kansas. While I take little to no offense, it is shocking to me how misrepresented and lack of knowledge there is about a large part of the country.
Many BC students view certain areas of the United States by the stereotypes attached to them. Some of the claims are indeed true, but others can be an exaggeration of the truth. Also, the accusations often focus on the negative qualities of the area. No one should have to feel ashamed of where they are from due to stereotypes. At the beginning of the year, I would preface my answer to the question “Where are you from?” with the statement “Don’t judge me but …” I would do this because I knew the initially shocked face would be followed by a joke regarding farms. I found myself laughing with the person, but I usually wanted to correct them.
It is interesting to hear what other people think about a place and then how they view it differently after a visit. While the article focused on food, it gave me hope that people will learn some truth through a journey to a new place; that one would then be able to see the exaggerations and false claims some stereotypes have. The author’s experience was summed up with the statement: “I may not have decoded the South, but I came out of the trip with a clearer picture of a complicated place.” The acknowledgement of a place being different from its stereotypes is a great start. I commend the author for encouraging a trip to a new place to overcome preconceived views.
This continued encouragement to question stereotypes and seek the truth is the way to break down the common misrepresentations in our world. We all become susceptible to believing the stereotypes that surround us. Instead of judging a place, person, race, or religion by labels society has given them, we should expand our knowledge by questioning the problematic ideas.
Caroline Engel, MCAS ’20