This question already has an answer here:
- Origin of the idiom “go south” 4 answers
If things went south we better have some plan...
Is went south a racial term or it's okay to use it in normal conversation to refer if things went wrong?
According to the OED, this meaning of ‘south’ comes originally from stock markets.
South on a map is obviously down at the bottom, and when stocks go downwards, towards the ‘south’, they devaluate; hence the expression ‘go south’.
There is no element whatsoever of it being a racial term. I can’t even imagine how ‘south’ would be racially loaded at all—if anything, ‘southern’ (in American English) is a culturally loaded term. Hardly a racially loaded one.