The American South is morphing. What used to be predictable down here is no longer.
Once, you could predict that if something in the South needed running — say, a government or a business — the person running it would be a white man. This is changing.
On the business side of things, one need only read a few of the columns we’ve published over the last year from our friends at Hypepotamus. They tell us about entrepreneurial and startup cultures that thrive all over the urban South — and that increasing numbers of women and people of color are building these upstart companies.
On the government side of things, a record number of Southern women are becoming politically active — and, in many cases, running for office. We analyzed “Election Watch” data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, focusing on the 13 states we generally identify as Southern: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The numbers are impressive. Even after Texas’ primary election earlier this month, 176 Southern women are still in the running for seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, or for statewide offices, such as governor or attorney general.
That’s a record number of women running for office, and their party affiliations look like this: 123 are Democrats, and 53 are Republicans. About one-third of the 176 are non-white. But when we looked through these candidates’ websites, we were quickly struck by how few of them fit either of the two dominant political stereotypes of 2018 — the dug-in, Bible-thumping Republican or the self-righteous, liberal Democrat.
The South, as always, is complicated. Just as our region has never really fit the entertainment world’s Two Great Southern Stereotypes — redneck or debutante — it doesn’t fit neatly into the boxes built by pundits. If you look at the races closely enough, the upcoming election season offers hundreds of little dualities of the Southern thing.
In short, two things are abundantly clear. First, the South’s political landscape is twisting itself into new realities that might last a long while. Second, only a liar would tell you he knows right now what those realities will be.
At The Bitter Southerner, these changes mean we need to look at the South from as many angles as we can. We intend to do a better job in the coming year of covering women and people of color, because those people appear to be the most determined change agents we have.
To get it done, we hired somebody, a crotchety old sportswriter named Tim Turner who is precisely one month and eight days younger than our editor-in-chief. Effective April 1, Turner will become The Bitter Southerner’s first, full-time managing editor, and we are already working hard to broaden our network of contributors, so we can more fully tell the stories of the South as it really it is.
That, after all, has been our vision all along.
We hope you believe in that vision enough to support it by joining The Bitter Southerner Family today.