Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alabama - Still a Stereotype?

I was born in Alabama but for years I would not necessarily claim it. I would lean on the fact that my father was in the Army and we moved around the first 21 years of my life. I spent a lot of my childhood in Columbus/Fort Benning, Georgia because we seem to always get stationed there after my father had an tour of duty somewhere else.

My father's side of the family lives in Alabama and all I ever saw growing up is rural Pike County when I came to visit. I never saw Alabama as a bastion of economic wealth. I was a kid though and my most foremost thought was playing outside and as I got older - Girls! Girls! Girls! - Thanks Jay-Z.

But since I moved here in 1996, I see Alabama as a player in the not only the business world of the United States but also the world. I have since "embraced" the virtues of the State of Alabama and am proud to call myself an Alabamian. Of course those who do not reside here nor have even been here still have their stereotypes of Alabama. I am sure that some think that people might still have the mentality of "Old Alabama" in the era of Segregationist Wallace, Freedom Riders, and Bus Boycotts. I am sure that the image of people in overalls with snuff in their mouth with rebel flags flying from a pole in the back of their pickup truck pops in some people's head when you say Alabama. Or how about living in tin roof houses with no inside running water with barefoot kids covered with dirt? Watching the news last night, it seems that some people who are supposed to be open minded seem to still believe "Old Alabama" still exists.

United States Senator Patty Murray from Washington [state] certainly has the wrong idea of my state. Just a brief bit of history for those who do not know, the Air Force put out a bid to have a company to build a new fleet of refueling aircraft. Northrup Grumman won the contract and decided to build the aircraft in Mobile, Alabama. Boeing, a Washington state company, cried foul and said that bidding contest was flawed and the whole bid was thrown out. Of course, they would not have said anything if they had won the contract I am sure. She made a comment yesterday on the NPR show, "All Things Considered" that I found offensive as a worker in Alabama as should anyone that is gainfully employed and provide services for the citizens here (and the world). She is quoted as saying "I have stood on the line in Everett, Washington where we have thousands of workers who go to work every day to build these planes. I would challenge anybody to tell me that they've stood on a line in Alabama and seen anybody build anything."

For those who do not know, Alabama has made great strides to be a leader in manufacturing for the world. Hyundai in Montgomery; Mercedes in Vance; Toyota in Huntsville; and Honda in Lincoln are a few of the BIG BOYS that decided that Alabama was the place to build their products. Now some may say that just because you build cars, how does that relate to building planes. You may have a point but you also have to remember that the rockets that sent astronauts to the Moon were built in Alabama and now it is one of the centers for the new spacecraft coming online after the Space Shuttle is retired. If that doesn't show an ability to "flight", then you are a hard person to impress. So really I have only one thing to say to Senator Murray, don't talk about s%&t you have no knowledge about. It was an ignorant comment to make and it makes your constituents look ignorant for electing you to the US Senate.

Some other players in Alabama are GKN Aerospace in Tallassee; BAE Systems in Cordova, Huntsville, Anniston, and Albertville; and Austal USA in Mobile. The State of Alabama is full of manufacturers that touch different parts of the globe (just like some other states). From big to small items, there are different companies that touch every ones lives directly or indirectly. To make the claim that, we have nothing to offer as a state just shows how UN-informed Senator Murray is.

Senator Murray, why don't you take a trip to Alabama and see how wrong you are in regards to the value of our state and the hard work of our citizens. If you would like, give her a call, email her, or write her a letter. Click here for her contact information.

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