This–my Thursday afternoon post–is generally a space for humor. This week I was going to write about the 5 best places to do nothing, since we’re in that hot, languid part of the summer where doing anything feels akin to climbing Mt. Everest. Those places were going to include a lakeside porch (with a bourbon), a hammock strung between two oaks (with a trashy or thrilling novel—props if you find a trashy thriller), a lovely bar (with a craft cocktail), and a field at night, stars twinkling overhead (with someone you love).
But today is not a day for humor, nor is it, if you ask the brave men and women in Ferguson, Missouri, a day for inaction.
We’re not a hard news organization, so we don’t generally cover these sorts of things. But we made a promise to offer the most up-to-date coverage on the modern South. Holding our tongues would be breaking our promise. It would also be irresponsible as Southerners.
If you’re unfamiliar with what’s happening, look to our colleagues at TIME–they do a wonderful job of breaking it down. The long and short of it is a young black man was shot by police under questionable circumstances. Much of the small town protested, and police used military action (rubber bullets and teargas) in retaliation. Reporters were not given access to the scene. Those who were, such as Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, were arrested or had their equipment dismantled.
There are more than a few must-read pieces concerning the disastrous and violent scene taking place within America. Many of those pieces are written by men and women with far more prescient views of the situation—both in Ferguson and in the modern United States—than I could ever pretend to have, so I’ll be brief.
We love the Southern United States. We live and breathe every aspect of it, from rowdy game days to biting sazeracs, from beautiful vegetable spreads to sloppy sandwiches, from slow summer days to autumn drives, from twangy country to silky jazz. But at the core of everything we hold dear—yes, even our football rivalries—is our hospitality. Our history is as difficult as it is long. While often proud, it’s also full of stories we’d rather forget. But we don’t. We remember it, and we learn from it. Our hospitality, on the other hand, should be easy: It’s in our blood. Yet, it seems like something we’ve forgotten.
Let us remember hospitality as we move through 2014. Jailing visiting journalists who haven’t broken laws is far from hospitable, and it’s far from the history we want to be forging now. All of this is far from the history we want to be forging now. Celebrating the South means celebrating our differences. It also means moving forward with our heads held high. It means continuing to grow.
Put simply, we’re better than this. Far better. We hope everyone can remember this, and that next week, humor can return.