Mount Pleasant, y’all.

July 6, 2011

I grew up in a family of four: my two parents, my younger sibling, and me.  I will talk in more detail about my family life later, but this post is mainly dedicated to my hometown.  I was raised mostly in Mount Pleasant, NC and how I would describe this town is much less than pleasant (but, of course, this is just my personal opinion).  Hidden between a chicken coop and a cornfield, Mount Pleasant is known for its What-A-Burger, its churches, its teenage pregnancy rates (rivalry schools called us Mount Pregnant), and its segregation.  In this place, the confederate flag flies higher than U.S.A. stars and stripes, the baseball fields are muddin’ pits (muddin’ pit (n): a giant shithole where people seek entertainment by doing high-speed donuts until every inch of their lifted Jeep Wranglers is covered in a thick coat of mud), and the schools (there are only three: Mount Pleasant Elementary, Mount Pleasant Middle, and Mount Pleasant High) are quite literally 99% white.  I did my time, laid low and made good grades, graduated high school, and signed up for 4 years at UNC-Chapel Hill.  It wasn’t until I was out of Mount Pleasant that I truly realized how uncultured and unprepared I was for the real world.  I was brought up in a school system that enforced and supported many societal ideas that I am embarrassed to admit I once believed.  Some general examples:

White is better than black
Male is better than female
Rich is better than poor
Blacks used to be slaves, but now they are all gangsters and thugs
All Asians are geniuses
All Middle Easterners are terrorists
All Africans are poor and starving
All South Americans are Mexicans
All Mexicans are illegal immigrants
Canadians suck (for whatever reason)
All of Europe is socialist but leaning towards communism
There are only two ways to live a respectable life: farm or enlist
And-God is our only lord and savior.

The upsetting part about looking back on my hometown is that I had absolutely NO IDEA that there was anything wrong with those ideas.  They were common knowledge and accepted and it took me moving to another city and getting continuously reprimanded and corrected for my learned racist and sexist language and behavior for me to realize what an oppressed community I come from.  Now it is painful for me to revisit without feeling enraged, depressed, oppressed, and misunderstood.  But as long as my parents and my sibling live there I will continue to go back unwilling to abandon them, and every time I return I hope that maybe my presence evokes a question in someone’s mind.  Maybe one little kid sees me in the grocery store and asks me if I’m a boy or a girl allowing me an opportunity to open their mind to the reality that there are more than just boys and girls in this world.  Maybe someone sees me at the bank and thinks I’m super cute so they begin to question my gender and in turn their orientation.  Maybe people see me in a restaurant and my appearance sparks a conversation about something not tainted by heteronormativity.  If I’m being honest, then I would say that since my little sibling just graduated high school and my parents are on the verge of moving away then I will probably never visit Mount Pleasant again in this lifetime.  I do believe in the possibility of Mount Pleasant becoming a more progressive environment, but I’m not holding my breath for the idea that it might happen anytime soon.

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