Boycott us because of lawmakers’ LGBT policies.

Marriage discrimination is the law of the land, and it really sucks. However, boycotting our state ignores the almost 60,000 LGBT Mississippians who have to deal with the fallout. Don’t avoid us because of the politics. We need more people to visit Mississippi and support LGBT businesses, artists, organizations, and events. Recent legislation has increased support and love among the Mississippi community, because when it comes down to it, our people accept everyone. Mississippians love to entertain and share our state with the rest of the world. We aren’t known as the hospitality state for nothin’. A few years ago, the baker and owner at Campbell’s Bakery in Jackson launched the “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling” campaign so that businesses could take a public stance and help customers identify LGBT friendly shops.

Ask why we don’t have a Southern drawl.

Every time we leave the state someone is bound to ask “where’s your accent?” Not everyone in Mississippi lives in a William Faulkner novel. Please stop expecting us to speak like we walked off the set of The Help. People from the Coast talk differently from people in the Delta and the Piney Woods. And some of us do have have a thick drawl, but if you come across someone who does talk a little slower, don’t let it fool you. We’re smarter than you might think.

Ignore the fact that Mississippi has produced some of America’s best entertainers.

Because a lot of people move out of state to take their shot at fame, people forget their humble beginnings in Mississippi. Morgan Freeman, B.B. King, Robin Roberts, Elvis Presley, Tig Notaro — we could go on. For such as small state, we’ve got some pretty big, impressive names. Maybe it’s the slow pace of life or the wide open spaces that foster all the creativity, but it all happened right here. Mississippians have been entertaining the world for the past century. We’re home to the King of Rock’n’Roll, the Father of Country Music, and the birthplace of the Blues.

Still not convinced? The newly opened GRAMMY Museum Mississippi might help make up your mind. Or you can stop by Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blue Club for some true delta blues.

Say “Roll Tide.”

We’re not interested, Alabama.

Focus only on our past.

By dwelling too long our painful history, you’ll miss all of the great things people are doing today to improve race relations in our state. Many of us hate the confederate battle emblem in our flag, and we’re ready to see it go. We’re not trying to escape our past; we want to learn from it. At the same time, calling us backwards and racist doesn’t fix the problem, and it definitely doesn’t support the people who have decided to actually do something about it.

Mississippi is one of the most diverse states in the U.S., which can makes things a little more difficult — especially with our history. We realize that we still have a lot of work to do. But we’ve come a long way, and we’re trying to keep that momentum.

Ask if we wear shoes.

Sure, sometimes the grass is so soft you can’t help but take off your shoes. But most of the time we’ve found that going barefoot isn’t a good idea. Anyone who asks this has obviously has never gone outside in the South without shoes. Try walking through a patch of unfamiliar grass, and you’ll soon be picking a hundred briars from your feet while grimacing in itchy agony. Or you could take a stroll across hot pavement in the oppressive, summer heat. We love our boots too much for that, anyway.

Say you don’t like crawfish when you’ve never had them — or won’t even give them a try.

Crawfish represents a way of life in Mississippi – it’s not just a Louisiana delicacy. People are serious about their cooking and peeling techniques and by abstaining you’re missing out on all the fun. We don’t want to hear that it’s too much work or that it’s messy. Any Mississippian would be happy to teach you their ways. Eating crawfish with friends is all about the flavors, fixin’s, and a really cold light beer.

While you can certainly order a couple pounds and the nearest seafood shack, crawfish are best eaten in the backyard, standing at a table full of friends. In the southern part of the state, most people boil their crawfish with the crab seasoning and vegetables all together. But at a Delta boil, crawfish are served with a side of Tony Chachere’s, or people will sprinkle the crab seasoning on top after they’ve been cooked. Just don’t touch your eyes after you’ve started peeling.

Call us “the landmass between New Orleans and Mobile.”

We’re looking at you, Weather Channel.

Forget that we have a coastline.

People tend to think of Mississippi as cotton fields and big white plantation homes but forget that we also have 26 miles of white sand beaches and several barrier islands. In south Mississippi, boating, fishing and sailing are a proud part of the Mississippi life. Take a ride on one of the Biloxi Schooners for a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico and its wildlife. If that isn’t good enough, the Mississippi Coast has casinos, nightlife, and charming beach towns, such as Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis that rival anything you’ll experience in Florida.

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