By Abby Vance
Growing up in the South has been something I will always cherish. Not many people can say that they love where they come from, but I can.
My name is Abby Vance, and I am from Grenada, Mississippi. And guess what? I’M PROUD TO SAY THAT.
Being a resident of Mississippi my whole life has influenced me to be the person I am today – simple, country — but not “redneck,” as some people might say, laid-back, easy-going, and a lover of sweet tea and fried chicken.
Even though Mississippi gets a “bad rap” for being full of people who “shoot everything in sight,” are “stupid and incapable of being successful,” and are “barefoot-n-pregnant,” there are countless opportunities to succeed. And if people look closely, or even visit, they just might find that Mississippi isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
To me, Mississippi is home. Mississippi is wide open spaces with friendly faces. Mississippi is the smell of your grandmother’s fried chicken, turnip greens, cornbread, and freshly-made peach cobbler and homemade ice-cream.
All of my closely-networked friends and family say the same thing about Mississippi that I do: It’s a place called home. Sure, they may get tired of it because sometimes you have to drive through five small towns before you reach a grocery store, but it’s home. Most people I spoke with couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
While Mississippi does have its fair share of shortcomings, it’s all in how one perceives it. If the media solely casts the “bad” moments, then that’s all outsiders see. But if people took a look on the daily lives of Mississippians, they’d see it truly is a beautiful and wonderful place.
Because I have grown up in the South all of my life, I often overlook the beauty I am surrounded by at all times. From the bright, green grass, the snow-white cotton, and the vivid, colorful flowers, Mississippi is filled with every color in the Crayola box.
It wasn’t until my parents visited Las Vegas, Nevada that we realized just how beautiful Mississippi really is.
While on their trip, my parents met a woman who asked where they were from. They replied, “Mississippi.” When my parents said this, the woman said, “Oh! You mean the state with every color green imaginable?”
We had never thought about Mississippi that way — until then. Now, my eyes are constantly open to the different shades of green we have spanned across our beautiful Magnolia State.
For my marketing campaign, I came up with the idea: Mississippi: We’ve Got Every Green Imaginable.
The different shades of green we have are almost like opening up a box of crayons and looking at all the light and dark greens.
Mississippi truly is a beautiful place, and if I were to execute this campaign, I would make sure people knew just how beautiful the state really is.
In order to make this campaign successful, I would use several media outlets, including social media, videos, and an online blog. For the social media aspect of the campaign, I would create an account that would have photos of different towns across the state of Mississippi “showcasing” their shade of green — be it farmland, grassland, a flower garden, a beautiful house, or even an old plantation.
Since I decided not to execute this campaign, I cannot say whether or not it was a success. However, I believe it would have impacted a few individuals.
My intentions for this campaign were for people to see beyond the stereotypes cast on Mississippi. We aren’t full of “rednecks,” but we do have our fair share of those. We all don’t drop out of high school and end up “barefoot-n-pregnant.”
We don’t shoot everything in sight. We do live in the “Bible Belt” and are very religious. We are hospitable. We are down to earth. We like to eat.
If you look around, you’ll find that we are some of the kindest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet. Sure, we have our faults, but who doesn’t? I’m sure if we looked around at other states, we’d find similar stereotypes about them, too.
We are a place of wide open spaces and friendly faces. We are a place of greens galore. We are a place called home.
That’s what Mississippi means to me – friends, family, food, faith, and fun. And I am proud of who I am and where I’m from.