I’m not sure where to start with this, but this is about Dixie. It’s also about the best friend I’ve ever had, — my dad. I want to make him proud of me.

My dad was born in Savannah, Georgia. 1947, I believe. Maybe 1948. So, he’s a Boomer. During WWII my grandpa was stationed in Georgia. I know Ft. Benning is the main Army training base now in Georgia, but I don’t know which one it was.

I don’t have the whole story, but even if all my facts have been wrong thus far, I know that my paternal grandpa was born and raised in Washington. At least raised in Washington (the state) – that side of the family is a bit mysterious – frontier, farming, dustbowl, mining and all that. Stories here and there, – I’ll continue my dad’s genealogy. I’ve told him so.

Whether it was Ft. Benning or not – somehow doubt it, he was stationed in Georgia (the state), where he met my grandma through her cousin or something. The cousin was an Old Boy and they scrapped. He apparently had distant cousins in the KKK, or so it was inferred. We keep contact for genealogy, but it got tricky for my dad trying to keep touch with his generation.

My father explains my grandpa as having had culture shock with how they treated the ‘negroes’. Like, I was told, my grandpa would go and want to help just with lifting something and helping them out and being sternly admonished by the good ‘ol boys.

After the war, my namesake grandpa convinced my grandma to come back with him to Washington – about as far as one could travel from the Southeast to Northwest. My dad was born in Savannah, but grew up in Mt. Vernon, Washington. My grandma never let go of Savannah or her ways.

My dad was still brought up by his mom – a Southerner through and through – even though he was raised near the Canadian border. I hate writing about this in a way, because my grandma was very sweet. She never lost her accent. I miss it. She voted for Carter as a Georgian, and I don’t recall her being very political. But, I remember seeing Confederate paraphernalia stowed away.

She never said the ‘n’ word. But if you would buy a sandwich and a person of color prepared it, she would pay for it – and then discretely throw it away. Polite, quiet racism. She just believed in the separation of the races. She was never violent. Never approved of lynching – but, would have not spoken about it, either.

I never knew though. I was a child of the 80’s. MTV still played music videos in the early 90’s. We were in Mt. Vernon, where my Grandma still lived. And, where my dad’s two sisters and my cousins still lived. [reference my Cascadia bit – I’m Washingtonian through and through on both sides.]

We would always visit in the summer from southern Washington, where we lived across the bridge[s] of Portland. I was watching TV. And it was color but one of those cabinet TVs, like wood furniture and the dial and rabbit ears – just to set the scene – very Stranger Things. – Lenny Kravitz came on with ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way‘.

My grandma said nothing, but the room became cold and I was told to shut it off [like walking up and – I’m not a spring chicken – I remember getting up to change the channel]. My dad took me outside and told me that – as a father does trying to explain the unexplainable. My grandma liked the old Hank Williams and slide guitar stuff – I just thought it was because it was rock and she was old.

My dad – and I’ll forget this, though I can’t remember exactly what he said, had to explain to me that it was about skin color, and that’s why she was upset. More than the rock music thing. It blew my mind. I still look back on that. She had a bumber sticker saying Live and Let Live, had a Bible prominently near her chair and lamp in the room. Hell, I cracked it open when alone; – it was just like the Bibles we had.

Only later did my dad tell me how he had argued for Segregation in High School and had had a Dixie flag on his bedroom wall [I’ll cover Confederate flags later]. This was not the dad I knew. Not the dad I had ever imagined. The dad that I would later play Rage Against the Machine for when we were cleaning the garage or something.

To this day I still trust my dad when he says something is racist – he knows the code language. I’ve gone back and listened to George Wallace speeches and Bull Connor and have read op-eds in Southern papers during the Civil Rights era of the 60’s. And even at their most violent, they still – bless their hearts – were gentile in their words. Dog whistling, read between the lines kinda stuff. LBJ was successful, because, while he was a complete asshole, he knew them more than they knew themselves, I believe [in the same way as only Nixon could open up China].

Me and my dad still talk about this once in a while. Most recently with what’s been going on.

There was no one more enthusiastic to vote for Obama than my dad, I swear. He didn’t say it outright, but inferred my grandma who had passed a while years before that, would be turning in her grave if she knew what he had done in voting for a black president.

I do remember my dad saying he never thought he would see the day. So as a side note I get flustered with the Cult of the Left. Like, I believe in utopia too, but even in my lifetime, I never thought I’d see gay people able to marry. Keep pushing, but keep perspective. The arc of history… and strategy.

Hell. I wanted to talk about statues and more about the Confederacy. But; I thought I’d give y’all some backround, and where I’m coming from when I say burn it down. Y’all know when they were built and why and about the “Lost Cause” mythology. and if you don’t, well, I fell for it too.

I’ll just say this. I used to argue the States’ Rights [to own slaves] thing, not even 15 years ago. It is thanks to some people that were on this very site that disabused me of even that notion.

I will still say this though. Although I come from the blood of people that owned slaves in South Carolina and maybe Georgia – that you want that myth. That – “slavery is bad but they were just fighting for their country”.

Every black person is like fuck you. And, I agree. It’s tough to reconcile that your ancestors were fucking evil assholes.

If anyone is interested in seeing me explain Confederate flags, I recorded something a bit ago if I can find it. What I will say is this… this is a geeky flag thing but I can go into Mississippi and I hope they don’t pull a Georgia – which still has the Stars and Bars you idiots. Sorry, you’re not stupid, but they are punking you. Mark my words – Mississippi is going to punk you.

White Southerners are the most passive-aggressive people in the world and you don’t even know when they are still fucking with you. I want to shout at people of color to facepalm themselves for not seeing the codes sometimes.

My dad has had many words of wisdom, but I love this the most:

“Just let them keep talking”

Meaning, don’t censor them, they will hang themselves with their own words the more you let them talk. I’m not a racist, but… – it’s usually not that direct, but let them keep talking, and you will hear the hate in their heart, no matter how calm and clever they think they are – they always slip up.

Also, I wanted to leave it here, but if you have questions – I will defer you to full-blooded Southerners of the Caucasian Persuasion that know the codes better than I do. And it’s all changing, but… racists just get more clever in my opinion. Tucker Carlson I could call out on a lot of racist code. It doesn’t fool me, asshole. I know what you are doing…

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The principal killer in the, “Freedom Riders” murders, gave me a couple of interesting pieces of information once long ago: He said that the Confederate Army was still alive, though underground; and that the K.K.K. had a new plan. Instead of focusing on terror and murder, their staples, they intended to put all their efforts into starting a race, and culture, war.

That was the real goal, for that
generation, to instigate, and lie, and spread hatred, until African-Americans, and those infernal, “liberals,” like me, started killing each other.

It didn’t work. Not in the least. They failed. Miserably. They burned churches, and murdered hundreds or thousands; but they never broke our spirits – they never turned us into what they were.

The Reactionary Right failed at everything they touched. To those people, the teachers and politicians and police who tortured us: “You got your ass ‘worked,’ Billy Bubba, jr.” Allow me to rub it in a little:

Barrack Obama
Michelle Obama
Thurgood Marshall
Bob Hayes, the “Fastest Man Alive”
Joe Louis
Mohammed Ali
Willie Mays
Hank Aaron
Louis Armstrong
Eric Holder
Rosa Parks
“Brown vs.”
April 29, 1992
George Floyd
and so many others.

Y’all be cool, ya hear!


I was born and “reared” (raised) in rural East Texas in 1952. I am of your father’s generation. I am black. I grew up in the south during Jim Crow. I was in the first class that integrated our schools when I was 15, going to the 10th grade. Most of my childhood was completely segregated, but even the three years I attended the integrated school, we were still basically segregated. I am a grandson of sharecroppers, and since my grandparents raised me, I am more like the son of sharecroppers.

I never attended a high school prom, because white people did not want young blacks and whites to “socialize” in my town in those days. I don’t know if the white kids had private proms in that era, but the black kids did not. I HEARD that white kids often watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show at our segregated movie theater, where blacks had to sit in the balcony. The movie would begin around midnight, after the theater was closed to black people.

On my mother’s side of the family, my great-great grandfather was white Irish, who lived with and raised children with my black great-great grandmother from the 1870s. When he died, he left his land to my great-great grandmother and his mulatto children. The KKK later took the land. The reason I mentioned my Irish ancestry is to point out that I know not all white people were incapable of actually loving black people. I recognize that we cannot change history, even if we choose to tell a different story than what actually happened, as most official history books tend to do. However, some of my heroes are white people; those who are capable of actually loving all people.

The land story is not unique to my family. It is a common story in black families. In fact, one of my cousins married a white man in the early 1960s when interracial marriage was still illegal in most of the country. Her husband was a member of the John Birch Society before they were married, and he had a fairly large ranch in Idaho. After he married my cousin, he was kicked out of the John Birch Society and his land was taken away from him. He too, loved his black wife and his mulatto children.

I don’t know where, when or how the majority of white people developed a hatred for people who don’t look like them. It must be a terrible existence to think that way. I cannot relate to it at all. I love all people. I don’t think that was ever a choice I made. It just comes natural for me. I THINK I have always known that all beings are a part of the Creator, and if we love the Creator and ourselves, it is only natural that we love our other selves. White people will have to deal with the Karma they created. The only way to avoid it is to forgive themselves, which requires them to treat their other selves as they would treat themselves. That is how we evolve as a social complex on this sphere in this plane.


Highly recommended…….a book that provides more background for your own interesting and insightful observations. I was born in Tampa but my Dad was a naval officer and we moved north shortly after my 1950 birth…yes I am in your dad’s generation.

All in all I spent seven years as a kid in Southern states, Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana. I spent nearly five years in the UK. The remaining six years were in Northern, Midwestern and Western States. We moved a lot.

My parents retired in SC and my mother, who was born and raised a southern girl from a well to do family in Florida had a genteel racism at work in her thinking and speech. She was raised by black nanny named Mamie. My dad, also raised in FL had a similar mind set. My dad changed because of the Navy which he served in for nearly 35 years. My mother only changed after retirement when her maid became her friend and business partner.

As an adult, I have spent nearly all of my life in the Northeast, the Midwest and a bit overseas studying.Racism lived in all three places and was, in many ways far more insidious in northern cities. I taught in the inner city in Chicago for13 years living in a mixed neighborhood and teaching in a school in the heart of “the ghetto”. Your reflections all ring true for me. So here is the book….and a review from a reader that I really liked.

In “Separate Pasts” Melton A. McLaurin honestly and plainly recalls his boyhood during the 1950s, an era when segregation existed unchallenged in the rural South. In his small hometown of Wade, North Carolina, whites and blacks lived and worked within each other’s shadows, yet were separated by the history they shared. Separate Pasts is the moving story of the bonds McLaurin formed with friends of both races―a testament to the power of human relationships to overcome even the most ingrained systems of oppression.

A new afterword provides historical context for the development of segregation in North Carolina. In his poignant portrayal of contemporary Wade, McLaurin shows that, despite integration and the election of a black mayor, the legacy of racism remains.

THE REVIEW…..This was a delightful memoir but a hard read. McLaurin grew up in the 1950s in town of Wade, North Carolina. This village was along Old Highway 301 and the Atlantic Coast Line, just northeast of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Things were changing in the South in the 50s and shortly after McLaurin left Wade, cars driving south on 301 bypassed Wade on Interstate 95. And there were other changes under foot. Starting in the seventh grade, McLaurin began working at his grandfather’s store across from the “Black” elementary school. McLaurin focuses on his work at the store and his encounters with the African-American community which provided insight into the segregated South on the eve of its demise. This book opened my eyes as I was born in the next county to the west, a year before McLaurin left Wade for college. Our experiences of growing up in the South were different, yet in many ways similar.

McLaurin’s grandfather was a man respected by many in “The Bottom,” where most of Wade’s African-Americans lived. He was one who extended credit when needed, especially in the off seasons when there were little work for the men in that community. He was also able to intervene on their behalf with government bureaucracy. One story is about a hard working woman named Viny Love who lived alone with her son who had cerebral palsy. When she was shunned by a county welfare agent, he took it upon himself to get action from the county. In pondering the event, McLaurin realized that he was okay to risk social censure to help “deserving” blacks. Yet, even with that he also understood that his grandfather thought of them as human, they were incapable of fending for themselves and ”Irrevocably flawed.” (132) McLaurin’s family didn’t allow him to use the “N” word, and he realized this was primarily used by lower classed whites; however, he came to learn that just because one didn’t think it was appropriate to belittle those of another race didn’t mean that they were above racism. As he pointed out, African-Americans didn’t come to his home (except to work and then it was through the back door). Nor did he go inside one of their homes. There was one exception to this, when an elderly couple invited him into their kitchen for some pumpkin pie after he’d made a delivery for his grandfather. By the standards of the African-American community, this couple was well off, but McLaurin was shocked by how little they had.

Most of this book is about the McLaurin’s memories of interacting with particular individuals from “The Bottom.” He writes about teenage boys playing basketball together and the disgust he felt when he realized that he had wet a pump needle to inflate the ball after he’d been in the mouth of a black boy. He tells about the talk of sex, about myths of the men and women of the Black community. He tells about his talks with “Street,” an African-American man who was considered crazy by both races (he was a Jehovah Witness). Although McLaurin later realized the shallowness and fallacies of some of Street’s arguments, he did credit Street with forcing him to more deeply question his Presbyterian upbringing. And he tells about the one older black man, Jerome, who, like McLaurin, was a Yankee fan. When he’d come into the store, the two of them would discuss baseball. No one else in the community liked the Yankees, according to McLaurin. The whites didn’t because their name and because they were just too good through the fifties. But they weren’t liked by those in the Bottom, either. They were mostly Dodger fans as they were the first team in the major leagues to integrate. The Yankees was one of the last teams to integrate when they signed Elston Howard in 1955 (there were three other teams that integrated after the Yankees: Tigers, Phillies, and the Red Sox).

In what had to be one of the more painful stories to write, McLaurin confesses about an incident when he, with a group of other white boys, taunted Sam, an older black man. In the lead up to the event, the reader realizes how of mob mentality can take over. This is McLaurin’s confession:

“There was, I knew, no excuse for my behavior, and with that knowledge came a growing sense of guilt. It sprang partly from the realization that I had betrayed the family’s expectations, especially Mother’s, that I have violated the basic human dignity that my family acknowledged blacks possessed. Yet there was another sense of betrayal, deeper and more personal. I realized that I had hurt Sam, had hurt him deliberated, and worst of all, had hurt him for his race.” (109)

This memoir was originally published in 1987. It was reissued in 1998, with a new afterword. At that time, McLaurin was the chair of the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and he reflects back on his adolescent years through the lens of the 100th anniversary of a terrible racial tragedy in Wilmington. These stories are easy to read, yet difficult because of the subject matter. McLaurin is not writing as a historian but as a memoirist. As one who grew up as segregation was waning, I would recommend this book as a glimpse into a world that thankfully has ended even though there is still remnants remaining. I find it odd that McLaurin now lives (or at least when this book was published) where the old Uncle Henry Kirkum’s Oyster Roast stood at the mouth of Whiskey Creek. I grew up not far from there and from the fourth to the sixth grade, I sat in Bus #6, an orange over-sized stub-nose bus, as it passed Kirkum’s on the run through Masonboro Loop Road and on to Bradley Creek School.