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Misconceptions and hypersensitivity
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Holli Deal Bragg

            A recent e-mail from a man protesting the “backwoods” flavor of some of my columns absolutely confounded me.

            In his e-mail, he not only accused me of painting a negative picture of Statesboro, but also took me to task for including a missing person’s race in a description provided by police.

            “The young girl’s race has  nothing to do with the fact that she is missing,” he wrote. True, but her race - which is part of her physical description – could have played an important part in identifying and locating her, which is why police included it in her description.

            This man further blasted me for a previous column in which I mentioned graffiti on a local bridge. The fact that I said it was not gang related but “good ol’ country” graffiti offended him. I can’t imagine why, but then again, I did not understand his entire point.

            Graffiti is graffiti, no matter who creates it, and yes, it is illegal. My point in the column, however, was that it added character to the bridge upon which it was painted. I still cannot fathom how that point offended anyone.

            In his e-mail, the man (who I’ll call Willie) had no problem whatsoever in using the words “good ol’ boy”  and “backwards.”

            If I were to be as overly sensitive as some, Willie included, I could get on my soapbox and protest the use of “good ol’ boy” as being racist.  What comes to mind when the term is used? Southern white men. To me, this term is more racist that the word “gang.” 

            I’ve written articles about gang violence, and been accused of being racist. To my confusion, some people read “black” when they read the word “gang.”

            I read over my articles searching for anything I could have inadvertently written that could be misconstrued as racist, and found nothing. Yet, others perceived the articles on gangs as being so. Why? Because of their own perceptions and excessive sensitivity.

            Backwards? In every community in this world, one can find “backwards” attitudes. But the rural flavor of Statesboro and Bulloch County is anything but “backwards.’

            So what if some of us enjoy mud bogging, fishing off wooden bridges, and other rural pastimes? Yes, many of us embrace Statesboro’s and Bulloch County’s rural history and pride ourselves that in spite of a growth spurt that seems to have no end in sight, the area retains its Southern charm.

            We have an arts center, a water park, a great university, new shopping opportunities popping up everywhere. It’s exciting! We have real concerts and plays and gallery shows, and it is a pleasant addition to our culture.

            But we still have back roads with old barns, men and women who hunt and fish, who grow their own gardens and who may never enter the doors to the arts center to enjoy the fine performances.

            Statesboro is a small town in a big city’s body. The community is becoming more diverse, but there are still those people who can their own tomatoes each summer (the ones they grew themselves), who sit on the front porch in the evenings and watch the cars go by, who dig their own bait instead of buying red wigglers at the bait and tackle store.

            Does this mean they are inferior? Uneducated? “Backwards?”  No! But some people perceive anything rural or country as inferior. Too bad – they sure are missing out on what life is all about.

            Willie’s e-mail pointed out the real problem in today’s world: supersensitivity.

            When someone like Don Imus makes an insensitive and truly racist remark, there is something worth protesting.

            Every time we turn around, someone is complaining about someone else making a racial remark or being prejudiced. While often there is some basis for these complaints, too often, the “offended person” is reaching – really, really reaching – to find a reason to play the race card.

            Aren’t we all tired of this? Can’t we stop looking for offenses where there are none and focus on true issues?  And wouldn’t it be refreshing if everyone – all races – stopped judging others through assumptions?

            There is no doubt Imus made a racist and offensive remark calling female basketball players “nappy-headed ho’s.” But my including a missing person’s race as a description is not racist, and my calling attention to Bulloch County’s rural charm is certainly not a blight on the community.

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