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john disque journalistRising with the Daily Sun
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Good Morning East Tennessee!

A friend of mine is coming to TN for a visit. She lives in New Jersey and posted on her Facebook page that she's coming down.

Her wall filled up with many responses to her post. While the response was insightful they were also somewhat insulting.

The first one had to do with moonshine and cowboys. The next was about rednecks and NASCAR, the next – yahoos and line dancing. They went on and on about how they wanted to go with her to get a glimpse of real southern, mountain living and life on the prairie.

While it is somewhat amusing – this is what people really think life is like in Tennessee: as if we don't have cities and buildings and industries or any type of infrastructure. We just sit around the campfire all day singing country songs, riding horses and wearing overalls.

This country hasn't needed cowboys in over 100 years so I guess we're all living in 1910. How does it feel to be labeled left behind and stupid?

I know some of you are going to say, "Wait a minute! I'm proud of my heritage." I know you are. You should be. That's not what I'm saying, but you are not being seen as someone who is proud of your heritage. You are being seen as someone still living inside of your heritage and existing with no modern technology.

Due to TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and other people in the entertainment industry, we are being stereotyped and labeled as stupid. Somehow they've connected this with some strange charm… as if to say "Awww, look at the stupid, cute, little redneck living in the past. Let's listen to him talk about his home on the plain." I know you don't want to hear this, but we are being laughed at.

I certainly don't want to fuel the north/south issues. In fact, I think that's part of the reason we're being labeled as we are. The way to combat prejudice is through education and communication. I just think we need to work harder to educate these people and stop allowing our entertainment industry to market us as a bunch of pathetic losers.

We can preserve and be proud of our heritage without being stereotyped. We can bang heads in any one of their tech or modern industries. Our communications and science industries far exceed theirs. Our schools can compete with any of theirs. Everything we do: our politicians, our small business, our air and water quality, our media, our artists, athletes, passion, teachers, compassion (everything) magnifies and reflects the brilliance of our people.

We should be seen and looked up to as the greatest state in the union: a place where people wished they lived, not a place where people wished they could visit for a trip back to the stone age.


Have a great day!

Published February 25, 2011

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