This is very true, but, they convincingly do it! White southerners convince themselves that this is true, because they refuse to accurately accept or reflect on all the information available to them about their history, and their heritage.
They have cherry-picked the positive parts of that story, that suit them, and deny entire libraries of information, that reveal the whole truth.
I’m an urban African-American, from the Midwest, originally, who has lived my entire adult life in the South, as a civil rights attorney. I know so very well the mental gymnastics white folk resort for in order to deny the existence of and evade any accountability for American racism. It is my job to hold them accountable, when racism (or sexism, they are related) is running rampant in the workplace.
This is a very difficult job.
It’s a perpetual Catch-22. It’s (and someone said this to my face) a murder-death-kill sort of dilemma, do you want these white people to kill you?
Well, of course not! I just want to do my damn job!