I'm from the South, born and raised in Georgia. Probably gonna die in Georgia.
Yes, I'm a white male Southerner. That means that I'm subject to a lot of stereotyping. I've met more than one person from up North (anywhere above LaGrange to me, but in this case more like above the Mason-Dixon line) assumes that I vote straight-ticket Republican, love NASCAR, have a Confederate flag somewhere on my pickup truck, own 25 guns, go to church every Sunday, eat grits every morning, love country music and eat too much fried chicken.
Indeed, I do eat too much fried chicken. In fact, I eat way too much fried (fill in the blank with dang near any animal here). Although, grilled (fill in the blank with dang near any animal here) also is fine with me.
Unfortunately, the thing about stereotypes is that they often -- though not always -- spring from people's experiences and often turn out to be correct. But not always.
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But just because every stereotype folks have about Southerners doesn't necessarily apply to me doesn't mean I'm not Southern through and through. All you've got to do is hear me speak. "Yep, he's Southern, all right!"
So, let's clear a few things up about my Southern-ness or lack thereof in some folks' eyes:
I do love country music -- real country music, not that bland stuff on today's radio. You can have Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood; give me Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie.
Yes, I drive a pickup truck. It's an extremely practical little pickup that gets good gas mileage. It does not have a gun rack or any Confederate icons, but it does have Margaritaville and Georgia Bulldogs magnets.
Speaking of the Georgia Bulldogs, yes, college football holds an illogically dear place in my heart. Yes, I believe national championship games that don't involve SEC schools don't actually count.
And, yes, there is a statue of Herschel Walker in my living room at the base of which I practice various gameday rituals involving live chickens (who, coincidentally, later become fried chickens).
I do like NASCAR but only the last 20 laps. I'm not sure what the hundreds before them are for.
I've voted for Republicans and Democrats and will never, ever affiliate myself with either party. Part of being Southern is having an independent streak and another part is supporting hard-working common folks. So, whoever is on the side of common folks (and I'm about as common as they get) and small businesses instead of billionaires and shady corporations gets my vote right now.
The most important life lessons I learned in childhood were provided by my family, Sheriff Andy Taylor and Bo & Luke Duke.
And, of course, I have Confederate heritage in my family, but you won't find that flag anywhere in my home. Not all heritage should be celebrated. My ancestors may have struggled and fought valiantly, but they did so for the wrong side.
The truth of the matter is that I don't really care if folks up North think I'm Southern or not -- nor, quite frankly, do I care if my neighbors think I'm Southern or not.
What matters is how I define myself. And that's about as Southern as it gets.
Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting or on Twitter @kudzukid88.