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Old 05-29-2008, 08:36 PM
 
268 posts, read 966,716 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy'slife View Post
Hi guys, I was wondering if someone from MS could help me out here. I am currently writing a novel and some of it is set in mississippi. I would set it somewhere else that I was more familiar with but it is essential to the plot that it is in the deep south. So if anyone could tell me basically what it is like growing up in a small town in MS that would be great.
To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?
I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?
Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?
I might sound a bit dumb, but I'm british and don't know a lot about american culture.
Thanks!

~Maddy~
What part of the state is your setting. That would make a big difference. My experiences on the coast in the 80's and 90's as a kid would be way different than where I live. Could you be more specific? I was a kid in the 80's and early 90's so maybe I could help with a little more specific information.
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Old 05-29-2008, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,857 posts, read 62,217,366 times
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Also, people in small towns still wave when they drive past each other. If you are on the porch or in the yard, you both wave, although in the driver's case, it might be more of a lift-the-hand-off-the-wheel-a-little type of thing. Confused the heck out of me when I first moved there. I thought the person I was riding with knew everyone in town! LOL
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Old 05-30-2008, 01:44 AM
 
Location: Gulfport, MS
469 posts, read 2,649,945 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlrich View Post
And although the foods mentioned are a southern stereotype, not everybody eats collards, peas and cornbread.
Where in MS did you live? I've been across a large swath of this state, and I know precious few people that would turn down some good cornbread and black-eyed peas. Those are Southern delicacies, along with milk gravy, which I always beg my mama to make because mine never comes out right. Oh, and biscuits. Everyone in MS will claim that their grandma made the world's best biscuits, case closed. It's not a stereotype to say that we're Southerners, and that we enjoy Southern cooking. We should have pride in our cuisine.

One stereotype that I do feel is insulting and inaccurate is the myth that Southerners are inbred. I think this started with Deliverance, or at least got a boost from it, because you'd be hard-pressed to find movies, television, or books set in MS that don't take it for granted that everyone's inbred, retarded, and picking banjos (btw, have you ever tried playing a banjo? It takes some skill!). Of course, the authors are usually not Southerners, and in many cases have never been to the Deep South.

This myth arose, in my opinion, because of misunderstanding of Southern kinship groups. MS is a historically rural state, and farmers and share croppers tended to have lots of children to work on the farm (or, as my mama put it, "Po' folks ain't got nothin' else to do with their time.") In these small towns, what you'd end up with is vast, interconnected families tied to one another over and over by marriage and blood. My mama's family is this way -- they were one of the biggest families in her hometown, and intermarried frequently with the Crafts, the Sullivans, the Houghs, etc. (there's actually a couple of books about the notorious Sullivan family of Sullivan's Holler, in Smith co. MS, which might interest y'all). I'm hard-pressed to find anyone in Raleigh MS that I'm not related to by either marriage or blood. But was everyone marrying their cousin (or their sister, daughter, mother, etc.)? NO. Cousin-marriages did happen from time to time, but I highly doubt they were any more common in MS than in any other part of the country -- and how come when Boston Brahmins marry their cousins, it's classy, and when Southerners marry their cousins, they're retarded hicks? A little double standard, there? I've got Old People's Disease, aka the genealogy bug, and I can assure you that my parents were in no way, shape, or form related to each other. It makes my hackles rise whenever that old trope about Southerners being inbred gets trotted out, as I perceive it as just another way to make us seem more backwards, ignorant, and less worthwhile than other human beings.
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Old 05-30-2008, 11:47 AM
 
Location: N.C.
177 posts, read 913,277 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
Where in MS did you live? I've been across a large swath of this state, and I know precious few people that would turn down some good cornbread and black-eyed peas. Those are Southern delicacies, along with milk gravy, which I always beg my mama to make because mine never comes out right.
I grew up in Greenville. Yes, peas and cornbread are good, but are stll a stereotype of the south, not that's particularly bad. I don't care for milk gravy either, or GRITS, although it wasn't mentioned I don't think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne
One stereotype that I do feel is insulting and inaccurate is the myth that Southerners are inbred.
My dad is originally from very rural South Carolina and, unfortunately, cousins marrying were quite common in the 50's and earlier. Mainly because they were poor and had no transportation (and really didn't go anywhere), so the only "dates" were a lot of times related. Sad, stereotypical...but true. for the record, my parents weren't cousins She was from California via Texas.
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:02 AM
 
14 posts, read 47,706 times
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All you need to do is find you someone who will put you up for a month or so and the story will be in the bag.
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Alabama!
5,965 posts, read 17,176,269 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlrich View Post
And although the foods mentioned are a southern stereotype, not everybody eats collards, peas and cornbread.
True. There is the mysterious Mississippi tamale. How in the world did everybody from Corinth to Natchez start making tamales? I don't know, but I'm glad they did!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
One stereotype that I do feel is insulting and inaccurate is the myth that Southerners are inbred.
Agree there, too; however, as I explore my various genealogical lines, I find the same names repeated. This was in the mountains of North Carolina, so it wasn't easy to find other folks.
Another myth...that Southerners marry young...in doing that same genealogical research, I find that the young people of 100 and 150 and 200 years ago marry at about the same age as today. The 15- and 16-year-old brides are there, but they are rare.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Orange, California
1,575 posts, read 6,023,169 times
Reputation: 745
Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy'slife View Post
Hi guys, I was wondering if someone from MS could help me out here. I am currently writing a novel and some of it is set in mississippi. I would set it somewhere else that I was more familiar with but it is essential to the plot that it is in the deep south. So if anyone could tell me basically what it is like growing up in a small town in MS that would be great.
To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?
I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?
Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?
I might sound a bit dumb, but I'm british and don't know a lot about american culture.
Thanks!

~Maddy~
Obviously, there is no substitute for spending several weeks there yourself. Barring that, however, if setting a portion of the novel in the Deep South is essential, perhaps you could find a book that captures that essence you seek. People raved about Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and how it described Savannah, GA. Maybe there is a similar book out there for a Mississippi town (in fact, I am sure that there are at least a few local authors, born and bred there, who have written "portrait" novels of their native state). Without more research on your end though, I think it would be impossible to provide a clear and accurate sense of place in your book. Perhaps it wouldn't be noticed by British readers, but I don't think your descriptions would ring true to an American audience (which may not be your audience anyway).

Good luck with your novel. It is a tough business.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:00 AM
 
1 posts, read 2,229 times
Reputation: 10
I was born and raised in Mississippi. People from Mississippi and very friendly and easy to get along with. We usually do not 'bite our tongues' and we make you feel 'right at home' even though you may feel like a stranger. We do not stress over material things and we are grounded and very thankful for what we have. We have 'real' southern cooking, not the stuff they advertise as 'southern food' in some states. It is common to go 'barefoot' all summer, have a taste for red mud (and or starch) if you're pregnant, and know children who chew tobacco. A teenage girl may not date until she is out of high school and 'shotgun' weddings are planned for early teen pregnancies. Families are usually large (not impossible to come from a family of 15 siblings...I did) and clothes are 'hand-me-downs' (from one child to the next). If I can be of further service, just let me know. I hope this information was helpful.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:55 AM
 
Location: Tunica, Mississippi
45 posts, read 184,316 times
Reputation: 31
Hi, I'm a 17 year old middle class kid who grew up in a town of 1,200 in the Mississippi Delta.

To a lower-middle class white kid, what kind of racism would you expect to see, if any?

I'd say very little "in your face" racism. I think it's rare to see a white person actually being aggressively racist to a black person and vice versa. Although personally I did have a few racist things said to me by some black teenagers, no big deal imo though. However I personally witnessed a lot of residual racism left over from the "old days." People will say all kinds of racist things when they think no one who would be offended is listening. I think with more conservative Mississippians the white supremacy mindset still exists. Also, some towns are still very segregated. Particularly in the Delta region. It's the fault of both "sides." In my town the private school was nearly all white and the public school was all black. Our public school system was absolutely horrendous though, to be fair. They had tons of money from the government but nothing ever really changed.

I know there is a lot of tornado activity, how much does this disrupt your life?

Yes there is, but it doesn't disrupt your life much unless your town is actually hit. A few times a year usually your county comes under a tornado warning and the sirens go off. Most of the time you get into a hall and if it gets really bad then maybe the tub or something. This past February a large funnel cloud passed over my town but didn't touch down until it reached the Memphis area. Strong winds did do a LOT of damage to my school and town though.

Finally, how big is christianity? Are most people religious?

It's huge. Nearly everyone is religious. However that does NOT mean that they display the stereotypical Christian attitude. At my HS there was tons of drinking, drugs, and sex. Most teens I think do whatever they want, but still get up and go to church on Sunday.
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Old 06-06-2008, 02:57 AM
 
Location: Tunica, Mississippi
45 posts, read 184,316 times
Reputation: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by teacher5 View Post
Not much diversity in Mississippi.
LOL what!?! Mississippi is very diverse. More diverse than most states actually.
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