A Red State of Mind Helps Readers Understand Mama Grizzlies

Syndicated

While this book was published in 2006, I just discovered it recently while sorting through the gender politics section at a used bookstore in Chattanooga.

Immediately upon starting A Red State of Mind by Nancy French, I realized that the author was a kindred spirit. Not only was she also from Tennessee, but she had encountered the struggle of living as a conservative in coastal metropolitan areas. Her memoirs and views of life, politics, religion and pop culture are laugh-out-loud funny for anyone from the South. Sometimes, we really do live on a different planet.

While French got married early and started a family, her experiences of discovering that she's the only Republican that her friends knew closely mirrored my experience in grad school. Her trials as a philosophy student at NYU were like my encounters at the job that drove me to study feminism.

What transplanted Southerner hasn't experienced the Walmart hate? While I only shop there when absolutely necessary because of awful customer service, French points out that it's the definition of "white trash" to Yankees. To the upwardly-mobile city dweller, anyone who shops at Walmart must live in a trailer, wear a wifebeater and drive a truck. They don't understand that many times, it's the only retailer around, or it's simply convenient. In the area of town where I grew up, everyone shopped at Walmart. It didn't matter the income level. While Chattanooga has nice stores, it's just the way of life. French writes:

After all of our moves, I've noticed the red/blue divide is most accurately characterized not by city versus country or lox versus grits, but rather by how people regard Wal-Mart.

She later adds:

I guess the difference is that we grew up believing that working at Wal-Mart, the gas station, or a fast food joint was a privilege not an embarrassment. In fact, a rite of passage for Southern kids rich and poor was donning a paper hat and upsizing people's fries.

While French writes much more on politics and religion (her chapters on surviving the 2004 election in Philadelphia are hilarious), I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It combined the right amount of Southern sass, politics and humor to be a light-hearted read on serious topics. If you want to take a break from whatever political book that everyone is reading on the Metro, read A Red State of Mind. You may start to understand that new elusive creature ... the Mama Grizzly.

Adrienne works in the conservative movement and blogs at Cosmopolitan Conservative.

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.