The discreet charm of the American South

< Daria Antoniv

I love the American South. Is there some kind of elusive, fading beauty ... It's a very special world created by the mixing of Irish, Scottish, French, Spanish, African and Native American cultures. From the South began my acquaintance with America in 2001, and since then, I am glad of any opportunity to get back there. I clearly remember my first short visit to New Orleans twelve years ago, in a wet hot air people seem to float; I pronoshus past - so much to catch, see - and they gave me a characteristic Southern accent (the so-called. Southern drawl), drawing out the words: «Hey, lady, you are exceeding the speed limit!»

At first glance, it seems South provincial, poor and backward. Nevertheless, it is here (in the states of North Carolina and Alabama) are two of the largest research park in the world, centers aerokosmicheskoy industry, factories leading automakers and the headquarters of many well-known American companies. On the other hand, nine of the ten poorest states in America - this is the southern states. In Mississippi, where my colleagues and I went in March 2014, the local roads are comparable in quality with the Ukrainian, public hospitals - much worse, and in some areas of Jackson (the state capital) and in the afternoon I would not dare to look. Only in the South, I saw such miserable quarters with peeling, dilapidated houses, dirty trailers and overgrown lawns. But only here you can see the magnificent house 18-19th cc., Which still keep the atmosphere of grace the lives of their former owners, long time, "Gone with the Wind" stories.

Photo: Old farm in g.Viksburg, Mississippi

Photo: Old house in the city of Huntsville, Alabama

General impression of provincialism support overly friendly southerners. On the plane, or "Greyhound" neighbor on the chair will take advantage of every opportunity to start a conversation and tell the story of his life. Therefore, if you are not configured for two to three hours of enthusiastic smile and nod, better do not try to make eye contact with the neighbors. On the street, in a shop, restaurant, any foreigner is a lively interest: «Where y'all from?», - Ask us (y'all - a fusion of the words you and all, appeal to two or more people - a distinctive feature of the southern dialect ), - «What're y'all doing here?» And if before the mention of Ukraine asking looked bewildered, in March 2014 the answer: «We are from Ukraine», - caused only sympathetic nods understandingly, and warm: «Y ' all enjoy your stay ».

But do not be fooled by the openness of the southerners. They themselves admit that life in the South held behind closed doors because of the stiffness and the conservatism of the local community (all the same, all the southern states are part of the so-called. Bible Belt). Attempts to represent what is being done behind the walls of the old trailers and huts in poor areas create some spooky and mystical feeling; I think if I wanted to shoot a thriller about a maniac like "Old Men", I would definitely come inspiring atmosphere of the American South.

South still lives under the oppression of the past: slavery, the defeat in the Civil War, segregation, the civil rights struggle ... On the road between Jackson and New Orleans we met with machine Confederate flag, which exists since 1865! Among the white population of the South, mostly taken not to love Obama (he considered weak), among black - assume that the reform in the health sector (the most important of the reforms initiated by the current federal government) Republicans so fiercely resist because she was offered a black president. We communicated mostly with African-Americans, as we took Dzheksonovky University (so called. HBCU, ie historically "black" university), and, perhaps, not been a day when we had not heard in one form or another about the oppression of their rights. Almost every African-American in the South over 50 who have achieved something in life - a veteran of the civil rights movement of the second half of the 20th century. And almost everyone is still living that war, not missing opportunities to tell their story. "Black" identity in the modern American South - is very complex, controversial concept. One example: in the center of the extended day for black pupils, which we visited in the framework of the visit, I came across a manual for young African-Americans called «To be smart or to be cool?». The author discusses the dilemma smart black children; after study, read books, go to museums and listening to classical music - then behave as white, while, as being black - it does not make much effort to go to parties, listen to hip-hop and R & B, etc. Elected the first way, you risk being an outcast among his second - to limit their prospects in life. Here is such a difficult choice ... The percentage of African Americans in government in the southern states - the highest in the United States.

Racial prejudice affect not only the relationship between black and white. ... I lived in a lonely middle-aged African-American women, conducting retirement homes have a gas fireplace, in pajamas and curlers in front of TV. One evening, do her a compliment about a fresh manicure, in response to what she tells me about the salon, in which she goes, and she would not be served by the Chinese, "because they do not wash their hands and to try all save ".

On Sunday morning, we as a cultural program led to a black Baptist church. In New York's Harlem such stand kilometer queue of tourists wanting to hear the real gospel. At the first notes of thunderous chorus in my eyes welling with tears; look at the board - they seem to have forgotten how to breathe. After the choir performs pastor. Gradually increasing the degree of preaching, he brings parishioners to a state close to a frenzy. We must understand that the black parishioners not just sit and listen to the choir and sermon. They jump from the bench and begin to dance and sing along, shouting words of encouragement. After the sermon we are meeting. Pastor gives support to Ukraine, said that they pray for us. One of my colleagues brought a welcome letter from some Baptist church in Ukraine, which I am asked to read before coming (none of my colleagues in English can not read too much). On shaky legs trudge up to the pulpit, on the way I run a letter eyes. Heap errors have to change the text in the course of the Americans even understand what im trying to say. Looks back assembly. Around the Afro-American, discharged, that the Queen of England - a bright beautiful suits and dresses, brooches and earrings, wide-brimmed hats. Chorus looking expectantly, preacher wipes sweat from his forehead. I'm starting to read - and, lo, in my address also heard all these: «Say it, sister» and «Yes, He is!», So I have a feeling important mission, I want to continue to broadcast on friendship and Ukrainian African-American people. However, the letter, finished a very fast, leaving the congregation rather perplexed than tenderness (passage, as it alludes to "give money," I threw in reading). At the end of the service are all very beautifully sang Amazing Grace, and once again I promise myself to learn this hymn, because it is very often heard in churches in the US, and so want to sing along ...

There is life in the South, especially in communities of African-Americans, and some kind of disorder. After a business meeting at the university we go to lunch in the student canteen. I'm in a suit and heels, as it should be; slips on someone spilled soup - and stretched at full length on the floor. All eatery freezes. Flies up to me someone from the staff, helps to lift, bustles, "Perhaps you want to write a complaint?". No, I write a complaint do not want me to quickly get out of this uncomfortable situation, but I still strongly advise them to wash the floor, so that no one else is falling. After a half-hour walk past this place - all in the same soup! My colleagues and I are discussing the scheme, where we all took turns slips on the soup, preferably with injuries, and then filed a lawsuit against the university and otsuzhivat lot of money.

The food in the South - a quintessential guilty pleasure. Fried chicken or catfish, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, yams, numerous puddings - all very fat, often sweet and sooooo hard. That is why the South fattest people in all US every third resident of Mississippi suffers excessive obesity. My colleagues, first came to America, frowning on the street in disgust at the sight of another human lumps of fat.


And I have long been nothing like this is not surprising - to me rather curious even, ah, that's what forms the body can acquire if it every day just to feed the fat and sugar and a little move! Here and man-apple, and pear-man and man-Yul ... Yes, and we feel ourselves to the end of our week-long visit, as pants are cramped!

Many in America are now saying that the South Authentics gradually erased. I would like her to live longer. But therein lies the charm of all this, what is left in the modern, more standard, politically correct world - the feeling of transience and decay ... Hurry to see 


See also

New and interesting