M-i-ss-i-ss-i-pp-i – What does this book cover look like?
My family is generations-strong in Louisiana, though I am Mississippi born. After living from coast to coast in the U.S. and in Japan, I consider the south my home – any location east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This is where I feel most comfortable. However, whenever I encounter prejudice it bothers me. I have developed a “you can’t tell a book by its cover” theory. You can test it when you meet Henry.
Right now, I’m visiting my niece in Seattle. When I arrived, our first stop – the grocery story. We loaded up with all sorts of yummy foods so she and I can try new recipes and cook together. At the grocery store, the clerk asked where I am from.
“Atlanta,” I stated as clear as Scarlett O’Hara would. The clerk stopped, she took a long look at me, as though I might be speaking of a foreign country rather than the city that hosts the busiest airport in the world.
This afternoon, I received a call from a South Carolina friend who’s attending a writing conference in Georgia. “It’s not the same without you,” she kindly let me know. However, last year at the same conference, a woman was talking about writing with me and referred to similarities of southern woman writers, she being one of them.
“What makes you think I’m not southern?” I asked, clearly getting her message.
“Why,” she stammered, but failed to continue.
“Is it because I sound more like a Connecticut Yankee?”
She had the graciousness to blush.
In my indignation, I sweetly channeled Reece Witherspoon (born in New Orleans) playing Melanie Smooter in Sweet Home Alabama. “Why, darlin’, I was born on a cold Christmas Eve in Biloxi, Mississippi. My granddaddy was one of the last true riverboat cap’ns on the Mississippi, and my grandmother, well, she retired an Honorary Captain of the New Ahlins Police Department.” Every word is true. I many not always sound like a belle, however, I am.
When I lived in Kansas, upon first introductions to a new co-worker, a man lamented to me about his unsatisfactory experience when he served as summer counselor at a Mississippi church camp. He accused me (those of us born in the south) of being prejudice of non-whites. I found that incredibly curious, since I’m also half-Japanese. My own government considers my ethnicity as “other.”
We all make judgements about all kinds of things. But remember, you can’t tell a book by its cover. Maybe it would serve us better to suspend judgment and investigate. To prove my theory that you can’t tell a book by its cover, please meet Henry from Tennessee:
Do you agree that laughter is something that can bring us all together, especially when the book is different from the cover?