Why Twang?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, twang can mean a number of things. For our purposes, we want to highlight one in particular: “the characteristic speech of a region, locality, or group of people.”

The question, “What does it mean to be from the South?” almost seems like a parody of itself. Why, then, start a magazine that takes on that same question? We think that these conversations are so well-worn because they’ve mostly been approached from only a handful of perspectives: upper-class white Southerners, or the “Great Men” of history. Yet there are other voices – voices that have been silenced or just haven’t yet spoken up. The South is so much more nuanced than our textbooks, and even some of our best-known literature and movies, would have us believe. Yes, we are black and white, but we are also immigrants, longstanding and recent. We are refugees and indigenous people. We represent all different religions, sexual identities and gender identities.

We hope that amplifying voices that have been ignored or pushed to the side will open up space at the Southern table. We need to hear from one another to know who we are. Just telling stories, though, is not enough. By giving people fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking, we hope that everybody from activists to blue-collar workers will be inspired not only to tell their own stories, but to build movements. To meet their neighbors and build stronger communities. To run for city council or paint a mural. To take a walk through the woods, or their suburb, or their city, and question why things are the way they are. To make and re-make the South they want to see.

And that’s where Twang comes in. One of the other definitions of twang is a “resonance.” We’ve heard privileged voices so many times that they no longer ring loud and clear. When the voices and stories of the unheard sound out, though, they have a way of reverberating. That’s the twang we’re searching for; we hope these voices make you go deep and think hard about the South, the aspects you know, the ones you think you know, and the parts about which you may have no idea.