Shameless in the South
I recently read and reviewed a novel titled “Have No Shame” by author Melissa Foster. It’s a wonderful story of forbidden love set against the background of 1960’s Arkansas and despite the progress made on paper, southern society was still very much holding fast to racism, bigotry, and outright segregation.
I imagine that everybody who reads this novel will be stirred by it emotionally. Whether you feel anger, sorrow, or surprise, the storyline and vivid imagery will evoke some feeling or passion, even if it is one that is as forgotten within you as the Civil Rights era seems to be forgotten in the minds of modern Americans.
One thing that I hope people do not experience when reading this novel is shame. I was born in Indiana, but moved to Arkansas at a very young age and was raised there, later moving to Tennessee for the high school years. I currently live in Georgia so I very much consider myself a southerner. I was raised in a culture that teaches that every meal should be followed by dessert, that tea should always be sweetened, and that children taking part in adult conversation are rude and out of place. I also grew up right across the road from a place that served my mother ice cream as a child out of their back door. I am not ashamed of those things and I am not ashamed of the south.
I was raised in a culture where every adult had a right to correct you if you were caught doing wrong. Paddles didn’t leave the principal’s office until I was in the 6th grade. I sat side by side with my white classmates and stressed over exams and book reports. Then I went to college and saw a Confederate flag up close for the first time. I learned what it is like to be invisible, the minority in a crowd that places no value on who you are or what you have to offer. I am not ashamed of those things, though, and I am not ashamed of the south.
If anything, what the painful yet truthful themes of “Have No Shame” have done is show me just how unashamed I am of my roots, my culture, and my southern heritage. My history is blemished with hatred, but I share love every day. My roots rattle with chains and are stained with blood, but I fly in freedom every day. My heritage is one of separation, but today I share my life with people from all over the world. I am a crusader for diversity. I am a lover of all mankind. I am shameless in my pursuit for equality among all men. I am a southerner.
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GE is the author of the "Love & Wrath" fiction series, including her best selling debut novella and the best selling epilogue to the series with complimentary audio. She was also previously published as a contributing author to the non-fiction, inspirational anthology "Super Singles Activate! Testimonies to Inspire and Uplift the Single Woman". She is the content provider for the "L.O.V.E. - Lyricism, Oration, Verse, Expression" blog featuring articles about writing, publishing, and other great writers.
G.E. is also a member of the World Literary Café, an online community that brings together readers, authors, reviewers, bloggers, and other members of the literary community in an effort to promote great literature. Her interests include reading, photography, spiritual outreach, and helping others to develop entrepreneurial ideas. G.E. is available to chat with readers and welcomes comments and emails from her readers through her website gejohnsonmedia dot com. She currently resides outside of Atlanta, GA.