This morning I heard Joe Scarborough say, “Born Southern, by the grace of God.”
Well, I fall under that grace, I guess, having been born in Montgomery, Alabama. A year later Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and a movement was started in that city.
In 1959, we moved to Birmingham, actually to a suburb of the Magic City. A few years later, dogs and fire hoses were keeping black people at bay and churches were being bombed and little girls being killed.
And we are supposed to feel fortunate to having been born here?
“By the grace of God” is a phrase that has its modern roots in the legitimization of Christian monarchs who through Divine Right ruled over their subjects. So the phrase as applied to Southerners might infer that we have a Divine Right to the “rich heritage” and “way of life” that we Southerners enjoy.
That way of thinking is aristocratic; in fact, it’s offensive.
Did the young black men whose lives were documented by Douglas Blackmon in “Slavery by Another Name” feel that they were “born Southern, by the grace of God?”
Picture credit Slavery by Another Name
Are the Hispanic middle school students who were born in Marshall County and now being withdrawn from public schools convinced that they, too, were “born Southern by the grace of God?”
Picture credit Huffington Post
Being born Southern might have some advantages, among them the good food that we enjoy, but even that has left many of us obese. By the grace of God, I guess.
Picture credit Joe
And what about the 522 infants who died during the first year of their life during 2010 in Alabama? Yes, our infant mortality rate has improved during the past few years, but still, for over 500 babies whose mother could not access the resources to have a healthy pregnancy and child; it doesn’t seem that the grace of God was enough.
Picture credit WAAY
The 1901 Alabama Constitution begins by “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.”
Is it God’s favor that has brought Alabama to where it is today; ranking near the bottom in education, ranking among the most obese, ranking among the worst in toxic air pollution, ranks near the last in internet access. In fact, Alabama ranked 48th in overall quality of life for children, which includes issues like health care, education and poverty.
No, it is not by the grace of God that we are born Southern. In fact, it is just by chance that any of us are born anywhere. There is no divine guidance in the race of the sperm to the egg.
And that one’s place of birth should determine their chance of making it through their first year of life, their chance of receiving a good education, their chance of developing obesity (and all the health issues that come with it), the chance of living in an area with clean air and water; is unfortunate, if not immoral.
Don’t insult God by implying that what we have in the South, and in particular Alabama, is the best he has to offer. If that were the case, I would expect our state to rank highest in quality of life issues, and we are far from that.