To grow up in the South is to grow up polite. Yes ma’am. No sir. Please and if you would and thank you kindly. In Southern driveways and grocery store parking lots, you ask how your neighbor is. Inquire after her mother, the kids, her azaleas, all before exchanging pleasantries about this most recent heat wave. And when she asks an obligatory, reciprocal “How are you?” know the appropriate response is to smile sweetly and say “Fine.”
Say fine, but know this: we are not fine. We are not fine, and we never have been. To live in the South is to every day contend with sordid past and complicated present. It is to see beyond the myth of moonlight and magnolias to the truth of a million lived experiences — some good, some bad, all unique by virtue of geography and a genteelness as real as it is illusory.
We are born into stormy history, raised in the shadow of violence and misogyny. To grow up here is to grow up in a creeping kind of discomfort. And yet, we choose to remain in this place where love and light splinter across our hometowns like shards of broken bottle-glass. We stay and we smile, all the while knowing we could do better.
At Unsweetened, we believe better starts with raw, unapologetic honesty. First with ourselves, then with each other. By sharing our stories — our sour reality stripped of its saccharine niceties — we can begin a radical dialogue that works toward a far more perfect union. Our magazine seeks out new, vital voices, each with a singular tone and progressive agenda.
This is a place to be heard, and a place to hear. This is a place where other is celebrated and y’all is the only pronoun we need.
This is the south, unsweetened.