Kathryn Harrison – Alumna GS14 – United States
Side of the South
Born and raised in the American South, I grew up aware of the views others held of the Sunshine State. However, today, in Florida the ongoing joke is you must go north in order to get to the South. Due to the overwhelming number of tourist attractions and high-rises full of part-time residents, only about 1 in 3 Floridians were born in the state, which is the second-lowest ratio in the US. According to the US Census Bureau, South Florida continues to rank among the top five metropolitan areas in the United States for having the widest disparity between rich and poor. South Florida may be booming with record-breaking real estate development and sales, but the marginalized working-class communities continue to struggle. The stereotypical South has long been fictionalized in representations, constantly under attack by outsiders yet heavily desired. As a multi-generational Southerner, I was afraid to confront my deeply rooted connection, lost in an identity limbo. What we have inherited–as Southerners today–comes with a hefty price. This work led me to many unexpected but familiar places, and propelled me to discover moments where I truly felt at home in a place I have always felt so conflicted about.