*This is simply an account of a personal experience. I shall not debate any aspect of politics, religion, or cultural issues on this blog. Disrespectful comments will be deleted. Thank you.
Not too long ago, I visited a quaint town north of the Rappahannock River in Virginia—a place with lovely architecture, scenic views, upscale shops, galleries, and restaurants. One day, as I was exploring the town, I decided to go into one of the art galleries. I entered and exchanged a few niceties with the salesperson. Accustomed to tourists, she asked where I was from.
“Virginia,” I answered.
“What part of Virginia?” she probed.
“I live between Roanoke and Lynchburg,” I said.
To which she responded, “Oh, you’re from the other Virginia.”
Let me just say…..I knew what she meant. Her tone and facial expression conveyed arrogance and superiority. It was a comment that carried a negative connotation regarding a particular view of the political, religious, and cultural identities of people living south of the Rappahannock River–what some historians call the “grits line.”
I glanced in her direction and smiled. Because, y’all know in the other Virginia, many of us are taught the old adage: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” So, I continued to walk around, viewing the artwork silently. As I made my way through the gallery, these questions crossed my mind. “Is she trying to be offensive? Or, bless her heart, is she merely stupid?” I asked, because most of us realize that stereotyping an entire region or group of people is not the best way to demonstrate one’s intelligence, education, state of enlightenment….or civility for that matter. Oh, and it’s probably not a good way to sell a painting, either.
Here’s the thing: Maybe it’s time we reconsider labels and preconceived ideas about one another, and instead, try embracing a little tolerance and civility as well as our shared humanity. Would it hurt? We may actually find that we like the “other.”
Yes, I’m from the other Virginia, and I’m just fine about it. And, it doesn’t have anything to do with politics, religion, or cultural issues. It’s simply for one reason….it’s home.