I’ve lived my entire life in Richmond, Virginia and it’s only now, in my mid-thirties, I’ve fully accepted my southern roots. In all fairness, it’s been a lifelong process of learning to be southern.
You see, I come from a mixed background and that has caused some internal doubt of my southernness. I’m Japanese, Cherokee, Irish, and Norwegian…basically a one-woman mixing pot. My mom was an Army brat and lived all over the place, but has lived in Virginia longer than anywhere else. My dad is from Danville, Virginia which makes him the most southern of us all. Neither parent really taught me the hallmarks of southern charm or little figures of speech, it’s mostly been picked up over the years.
Through the help of patient friends and family, I’ve come to understand the importance of a pineapple in my home, when and why to bless someone’s heart, how I like my iced tea, and most importantly why y’all is the perfect southern word.
Y’all has long been a word to be avoided in my vocabulary, but finally in my mid-twenties I began to embrace it. But that was only because of my studies during seminary, particularly with Hebrew and Greek. I came to the realization of how perfect y’all is when communicating. If you have taken a foreign language you’ve experienced the distinction between you singular and you plural and its affects on conjugation and syntax. How else can you articulate the plural form of “you” without it being cumbersome?
Now in my thirties it’s in full-on use. Hate on the word if you want, but I think it’s perfect. If you walk into a room full of your girlfriends, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since there are no guys in the room. If you walk into a room full of guys and girls, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since guys are not more important that the ladies in the room too. AND wouldn’t it be better to be more inclusive in our language period?
So if you come in my home, you’ll most certainly be welcomed by the site of a pineapple or two; we hope you’ll stay awhile and enjoy a meal. I also hope I’ll have no cause to bless your heart. AND if we do have the good fortune to meet sometime, please don’t be surprised by the “hey y’all” coming from the chick without a southern drawl…it’s because she knows the perfect way to communicate with all y’all.