So many times I have heard that the southern way of living is so out of whack and so behind the times. It is so ironic that some people feel this way because several things that have been commercialized to the mainstream audience has come from the south. Certain foods have been advertised and placed on the national scale. Popeye’s and KFC are two major fast food restaurants that originated in the south that have been franchised all over the country. I have travelled to other states that were not in the south and I have seen both of these restaurants. Popeye’s commercials keeps the originality of its birthplace by having the band playing in the background but why are people running to Popeye’s if it is supposed to be so country and behind the time. Even the dish shrimp and grits originates from the Louisiana and it has been placed on fine dining restaurant menus. These overpriced restaurants try seem as though this dish did not come from the south. They are trying to glamorize it and make it seem as something brand new. It is funny to me that the south has come up with so many popular dishes or restaurants that have gone mainstream but people still will not accept the south into the rest of the nation. Whenever I am watching the food network channel with my mother, she always says to me I do not know how these people on this network have made it this far because what they are doing has already been done years ago. She always says my mother used to make this or make that when I was little now television wants to make it seem as though it is their idea when really people in the south have been doing what their doing for many years.
Music is another thing that has gone mainstream. There are numerous amounts of famous music artists that are well-known by this country and they are born and raised in the South. Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Justin Timberlake and Elvis Presley are well-known entertainers from the south. These artists have sold countless amounts of albums but people still remain to believe that the south does not bring anything to the table for the country. When these artists went mainstream it was as if the rest of the country forgot where these singers originate from. Even the popular television show American Idol primarily has contestants that are from the south. Once they narrow it down to the top 10 most of the contestants are southerners. Even most of the winners for each season are southerners. Is this really a coincidence? I think that this country loves to hear southern people sing but they will not admit that the southern region has contributed a lot. Carrie Underwood is one of the most successful southern winner from American Idol. She has won several awards and she is even the star of the upcoming Broadway show The Sound of Music.
When I think of the south and what it represents I think of several things. One thing that stood out to me most is religion. Religion was a heavy topic that was discussed in our previous class discussions. Southerners really value religion and going to church. When you drive anywhere in the south you will find a church on just about every corner. As I was driving down the streets of Memphis I would often times find several churches on one street. Some churches were not even a mile or even a half mile apart. As I was completing my photo essay it was important for me to capture the importance of religion in the hope. I wanted to take pictures of historical churches that people were currently attending. I wanted to capture photos of well-known black churches as well as well-known white churches. I also wanted to take pictures of large churches as well as small churches to show that there are a wide range of churches that people attend in the south. I recently went to Atlanta about two weeks ago and i made it mandatory to take a picture of Ebenezer Baptist Church which is where Martin Luther King Jr. and his father ministered. This church is a historic site for the south. I could not have left Atlanta, Ga. without capturing a photo of this church. It seems as though they tried to keep this church as original as possible. Too many upgrades to this church would take away from the old historic feeling. Even the sign for the church remains exactly the same as it did when Dr. King and his father preached there.
I also made it a priority of mine to take a picture of my childhood church. Religion is very close to my heart and I have so many memories within that church. My entire family went to church so it was very important for me to put this church in my photo essay because it is a part of who I am today. I have so many memories in this church that will never leave. It is and forever will be my home church. It is one of the smallest pictures that I have in my photo essay and that is another reason why I had to have this church in my photo essay. Most people today feel that they have to attend larger churches in order to feel important or as if their church is better than a smaller church. In my opinion I feel it does not make any difference whether my church is small or large just as long as I am receiving the word for the pastor.
I also travelled down to my old neighborhood as a young child. I really wanted to go back to my childhood neighborhood because I knew I could capture great photos of churches. There were three churches that were right next to each other. I never realized that these were three different churches when I was a little girl because it just seemed did not seem out of the ordinary to see these three churches next to one another. In one of these churches my sister and I belonged to a Girl Scout troop within the church.
Then I rode down Central Avenue and I took a picture of Second Presbyterian Church. This church is huge and I past by this church everyday to come to school. It would only be right to have this church in my photo essay. This church does several things for the community. Just about every time I past this church whether if it is on the weekday or weekend there is always some type of activity going on. This church even offers a church for the community which I think is great.
I also made it a point to get a photo of the Catholic Church Immaculate Conception. Not everyone in the South is Baptist. There are many Catholic people in the south so it would not be right to leave out Catholic Churches in my photo essay. There are many people in the south that are Catholic so it was important for me to have a well-known Catholic church in my photo essay. I have always heard this church brought up in several conversations but I never knew exactly where it was. When I think of the different churches in the south I always tend to think about predominately black churches, which is something I need to get out of the habit of. There are more churches in the South that are not mostly black.
World Overcomers church is located right here in the city on Winchester Avenue. It is a well-known black church. A one time in our city’s history this church was receiving a lot mixed reviews from the press around the country. The reason there was so much attention brought upon this church was because the statue of liberty was being built to be placed in the front of the church. People from around the city had mixed feelings about it. Even the New York City had something to say about the statue being built in Memphis, Tn. At the time when this was happening, I was a young girl. I did not know why this was such a big issue. Now that I am older, I have an opinion about it. It is not that big of a concern to me. World Overcomers has their own meaning for the statue so who I am to say that it is wrong for it to be in front of the church.
I rode around the city with my mom and older sister to do this project. Once I got into the assignment I started to really enjoy myself. I captured some great photos and I also received some weird looks from people as I was snapping my photos. I was really amazed by how well my pictures turned out and how many other churches are in the city that I did not take pictures of. That made me take notice of how much the South really values religion as a part of our culture.
Women are discriminated against simply for being a woman. Women have been oppressed for many years and I am not so sure if they ever will stop being discriminated against because they are not considered to be a dominate figure in the United States. Minority women are not the only group that is being discriminated against. White women are also victims of discrimination. It does not have anything to do with color it has everything to do with gender. No matter what race a woman is she will still experience discrimination.
Aside from being treated differently by society, women are being paid differently than men as well which is completely unfair. Even if a woman has completed the same amount of education and has the same amount of experience as a man she will more than likely not get the job or if she does get the position she has to get paid lower than a man would. No matter how qualified a woman man she will never be considered the same as a man. The major reason that women are paid lower is because women will have babies at some point and that means they have to go on maternity leave to take care of the baby. Even though men can go on leave when they have a baby but it is more common for women to go on maternity leave than a man. Women are looked at to be caregivers and are expected to take sick days for their children.
Even though women know that they are being paid considerably lower wages they still have to continue to act and carry themselves as a woman of the south would. Women have to continue to be passive because that is what is expected of them. If they spoke up about something that they believed in they would be considered as a nag or a “bitch” which is what society hates. Women have to compete against other men and women when it is time to get a job. That means they have go an extra mile to be considered better than the man. They will need more experience or more education in order for an employer to consider them.
There was a time where my sister was applying for an HR position for a trucking company. She was extremely happy because she got the job. After awhile once she got the hang of the job and she discovered that she was getting paid considerably lower wages than the male workers. She was not too happy when she found this out. She confronted her supervisor about her concern and she was told that they were being paid more because of their experience. She continued to fight her way to higher wages. A few months later she discovered that her job was downsizing and she was let go of her job. There was not much she could do but just deal with the outcome. Only women were let go which is totally unfair.
When it comes to the different class system people tend to say they are middle class when asked by someone. In actuality most people fall below the middle class system. I know I am guilty of this when I am asked by someone what class I consider myself to be apart of. Actually I fall in the working poor category because my parents do not make over a certain amount of money to be considered middle class. It is often said that whatever class system that you grew up in that is the class you will forever stay in for the rest of your class. I plan to become a teacher when I graduate from college so that means I will remain in my current working class system. The working class generally works on an hourly wage rather than for an annual salary.
People who are considered middle class are either in the lower end of middle class or the upper end of middle class. The lower end of middle class tends to make more money than the working class and they have more education than the working class. I was not aware that the middle class was broken up into two components. Once it was broken down that way it made more sense about middle class. Most people claim they apart of the middle class because they are too ashamed to say they belong to the working class or working poor. It just seems ideal to say that you belong to middle class so that you will not be an outsider. The upper middle class tends to make hundreds of thousands annually. They tend to be well educated and hold high paying job positions or titles. More than likely they have more leisure with the own work schedule and they probably are more likely to manage other people at work. When I think of upper middle class I think about people who are on the verge of being upper class according to the U.S. standards.
People like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates are considered to be apart of the upper and elite class. These people are more in the upper class because they have new money and people with new money are often looked down upon because they have not always had their money which in my opinion should not matter because all money spends the same way. People that are apart of the elite class are born into this class. It usually takes a few generations to be considered elite. Even though Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have elite status money they are not apart of the elite class because they were not born into money. The elite class do not work during their lifetime. As far as education they go to school abroad or they go to boarding schools. When it is time for their children to go to college they go to ivy league schools to receive what is considered the best education. If I had a chance to choose what class I would want to be apart of I would choose upper middle class because I would still like to work for things that I want in life but I also want to live comfortably and not have to worry about things that the working class and lower middle class has to worry about.
Whenever I hear outsiders talk about Memphis they always talk about the negative side to this city. Just like any other city, every city has some type of negative side to their city. Some people say Memphis is only known for Elvis, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and high crime rates which is not true in my opinion. Memphis is known for many positive things that would attract people to come visit or even live for that matter. Three of the things that Memphis is known for Beale Street, BBQ, and St. Jude. These attractions bring a lot of people to this city. Whenever I watch food network they always have the city of Memphis on the channel for its signature BBQ. There are several cities across the country that cook BBQ but none will compare to the taste of our cities BBQ meat. North Carolina and Texas are known for BBQ as well but nothing compares to Memphis’ wet and smoked flavored BBQ. It is something extremely different and special about our BBQ because it brings several tourists to our city. We even have BBQ contest that are held in here in Memphis, Tn. and people from all around the country come here to compete.
Elvis Presley is another reason why tourists come to this city. Elvis Presley is known as the King of Rock and Roll and he one of the most popular recording artists. People look up to Elvis Presley and they try to impersonate him all the time. Even in Las Vegas there are Elvis impersonators. I visited Las Vegas last year and there were Elvis impersonators everywhere. I thought I was back in Memphis for a moment because Elvis was everywhere. We have a vast amount of people to visit Memphis for Elvis week. If Graceland would use some of the money that they made from tourists that visited Graceland and invested in the surrounding area the neighborhood then maybe more businesses would relocate to the area.
St. Jude is one reason most people do not realize that people come to Memphis for. St. Jude is a hospital for children that diagnosed with severe illnesses. There are people from all over the United States that come to St. Jude in order for their child to receive care. This hospital is known to find cures for uncommon illnesses. I used to work at a grocery store and customers would come in the store and shop for food. They would have several gift cards as their form of payment. I was curious as to why they had so many gift cards so they told me the hospital issued the family gift cards. There were so many customers that were from another city who would use these cards. I was unaware how much of an impact St. Jude has on other cities.
The older I get the more I realize that Memphis is not so bad to live or visit. Once I sat down and wrote down all of the positive things that Memphis stands for it made me realize that you have to make your judgments about things and not let other make the decision for you.