Carolina Blues.

If you’ve been watching the news or paying attention to pop culture lately, this is what you’ve heard about my home state of North Carolina:

1) Voters just passed a constitutional amendment making it extra illegal for same sex couples to marry. It was already illegal, mind you, but now it’s extra super special illegal. And as I understand it, other domestic partnerships are now at risk as well.

2) North Carolina is home to John Edwards, who has a charming accent but is on trial in Greensboro essentially for being a big jerk.

3) The Bachelorette was filmed in Charlotte this year. Viewers can tune in to see a bunch of yahoos who have nothing better to do than treat reality tv “stars” like visiting royalty.

And all this comes on top of existing stereotypes about tobacco and pig farmers, rednecks and NASCAR.

Ugh! This does not make me feel proud.

North Carolina is actually a very nice state. Spring lasts from late January until May.  The beaches and mountains are incredible. There are a few world class colleges and universities. It’s still possible to get a great public school education. There are some fine things going on in the Tar Heel State.

More importantly, it’s filled with some of the warmest, kindest people I’ve met. When I walk down the street in my parents’ neighborhood, every single person I pass says good morning. Never fails. And my friends from Charlotte are people who feel like home to me, even though I’ve been gone a long time. They’re smart, ambitious, welcoming, loving people.

There are plenty of opportunities to highlight the worst or most laughable aspects of my home state. And there are plenty of people in North Carolina who do a fine job perpetuating unfortunate stereotypes all on their own.

But if you take politics out of it, so much of who I am comes from the place that I grew up. It shapes the way I deal with people and home and at work. And that does make me feel proud.

I just hope N.C. can find a way to put more of its best foot forward. Let’s not be the butt of the joke, y’all.

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