I grew up in the south. I lived in NC and GA almost exclusively (there was a period of six months in MD when I was 15) from birth until I was 23. I have a fairly faint southern accent. It's there, it just takes a trained ear to spot it. When they first meet me, if they think about it at all, people tend to suspect I hail from someplace in the midwest, and are always pretty surprised when they learn the truth.
Inevitably, somebody will ask whether I made a conscientious effort to rid myself of the drawl. The answer to that is no. I don't know whether my accent changed that much, but if, in early childhood, I had a thicker accent than I have today, its fading was not the result of my efforts.
But my not having a thick accent--or an accompanying backwoods dialect--has made more than a few people in the south and elsewhere skeptical of my Dixieland bona fides. It's always seemed silly to me. In the end, and with a few clear exceptions, my childhood was more stereotypically white suburban than it was stereotypically white southern. But I've spent enough evenings watching laser beams bounce off Confederate Soldiers while Elvis Presley sang the American Trilogy to feel pretty comfortable in my southern roots.
That being said, sometimes I wonder about this place. I few days ago I posted a Saxby Chambliss clip that's running ad nauseum here in which the onscreen text seems to imply that Jim Martin, Chambliss's opponent, is a child killer. Today, I came across an ad that is just as classy from Elizabeth Dole--up for reelection in the state of my birth.