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Old 06-14-2016, 01:27 AM
Location: Metro Atlanta (Sandy Springs), by way of Macon, GA
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As an African American man, I've always thought this was weird. The rural south seems to be the poster child for intolerance. You know the stereotype, dominated by white guys in overalls with pick up trucks with a strong dislike for "minorities." I've even heard blacks from other regions say things such as, "Yeah, I wouldnt get caught dead outside of Metro Atlanta while I'm in GA. I'm not trying to have the KKK coming for me"

It's weird to me because the rural areas and small towns down here are usually anywhere from 25%-65% black, as opposed to the 90%+ white in other regions.

Sure, you have some people the "stereotype" applies to, but most of these towns are a bunch of blacks and whites who've grown up together and get along just fine. As a black male, If I travel through these southern rural towns and make a stop, there's no problem or discomfort. Half or more of the people working at the stores and the patrons are black themselves and the rural whites are used to being around blacks so they dont act strange, I feel comfortable.

In contrast, when I travel through the rural areas of the Midwest and Northeast, I receive awkward looks, mannerism, and there usually isn't many other black people around.

I've just always thought beliefs and comments like the one I mentioned above, particularly by other blacks from places like NYC or Philly, was pretty weird because those 90% white rural areas in states like those sure seem less "accepting" than the ones down here.

Have any of you other AAs ever felt like this while in rural areas outside of the south? Is this a common belief, that the south's rural areas are "worse" and "less tolerant?" I dont see it, and have experienced the opposite.

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Old 06-14-2016, 08:05 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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There's an old saying, it goes something like this:

White people in the South are fine with black people living next door, as long as they have no power. White people in the North are fine with black people having power, as long as they don't live next door.

In my experience, this is mostly true. (Disclaimer, I am white).

The north has a really terrible ugly racial history which is now mostly forgotten. In the period after the Civil War, blacks moved from the South to the north in relatively large numbers. As they were from rural areas in the south, most of them moved to rural areas in the North. There weren't huge populations, but most small towns in large portions of the country had at least a few white families.

But after Reconstruction, things changed, and racial attitudes towards blacks in the North became strongly negative. Town's began passing "sundown" ordinances, which made it illegal for any black person to stay in the Town overnight. During the period from roughly 1890-1915 or so, nearly every small town had some version of a race riot, the result of which was the forcible expulsion of the black community in the towns by a white mob. The black population fled to the cities, and was later swamped by the Great Migration.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:08 AM
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It has nothing to do with tolerance. The Great Migration wasn't rural resettlement. Black people left the South for economic opportunity in northern cities. The Rural South still has black people because they never left the area in which their ancestors were enslaved.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:35 AM
Location: Tennessee
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I grew up mostly in a white area of Tennessee, but also grew up for a few years in a majority AA of South Carolina and have spent a lot of time there.

I think part of the reason you see more "tolerance" in rural areas in the South is that whites and blacks there interact on a more regular basis. Whites are more familiar with their AA neighbors. They see more AAs. They have friends and coworkers who are AA.

I live in Indiana now and have also lived in Iowa. In Iowa, there were VERY few AAs - it was the whitest place I've ever lived. I have a strong accent and people there looked at me like I had a hole in my head. They were incredibly unfamiliar with anyone not from the general area, and would be unfamiliar with AAs.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:49 AM
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I think it depends on the town in both instances. Some towns outside of the South have long time Black populations ranging from very small, but consistent to actually pretty high. There may be small towns/cities with small to high Hispanic or even Asian or Native American populations as well. For instance, you have small cities/towns in Upstate NY like Dunkirk, Amsterdam and Geneva where you'll have a lot of Puerto Ricans and enough to know to decent amounts of Black people, with maybe a small Asian population.

I actually was in Geneva a few weeks ago and went to a Soul Food restaurant, went to the park to ball a little bit and a Black group of guys came up to join me. When I drove around you had all Black, all Puerto Rican, all White, but also a mix of kids walking together after school. So, that is an example of a small Northeastern city/town where the sentiment may be different.

There may also be a generational/individual thing going on, as even if a town isn't diverse, you may have kids from these schools that may play sports with or against kids from more diverse schools. So, it may not be a big deal to some people from such town due to some potential form of interaction.

You may have small towns outside of the South with a negative reputation as well, which was explained above.

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 06-14-2016 at 08:59 AM..
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:16 PM
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Here is an interesting article about Covert MI: Covert, Michigan: A History in Black and White : NPR

Covert is in SW MI.
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:07 PM
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It has been my experience that there is generally WAY WAY WAY more overt racism in Southern areas than Northern (east of the Mississippi at any rate).

In "the north", I have never seen these things that I did experience while living/working in "the south":

A coworker (black) on multiple occasions came in to work to find a noose on his desk. When the culprits were eventually (lackadaisically) identified, they were given a "good talking to" - eg they were told that they needed to understand that black folks just don't have a sense of humor. So don't play "practical jokes" on them. A noose placed on the desk of a black person by a white coworker is NOT, in any sense of the phrase, a "practical joke". It's a threat. This was in the 90s. The 1990s, not the 1890s.

Also in the mid-90s, shortly after escaping "the south", just outside the Alabama town I had been living in, there were a series of attacks on black residents including an incident where a man was murdered, had hands and feet cut off, and then the body was dragged behind a car for many miles before being cut loose and kicked into a ditch. While I would never say this sort of thing NEVER happens in "the north", it sure doesn't happen with nearly the regularity that it happens in "the south".

Again in the mid-90s - I used to go to lunch with a black male coworker who was a good 10 or 15 years younger than me. Usually in the company of other coworkers, but occasionally on our own. One day a white female coworker took me aside to give me some "advice". When I finally figured out what she was on about (stupidity regarding the effects on my "reputation" of going out with a black male coworker to grab some lunch) I just about burst a blood vessel. I informed her in no uncertain terms that if ANYBODY thought I was getting it on with a handsome younger man, they were welcome to their false opinions, but that it could only IMPROVE my reputation to think I was having an affair with him. I did tell my coworker about it and asked if he felt endangered at all. He just laughed and we continued to go out for lunch regularly. Personally I don't find this sort of thing amusing in the least but I imagine when you are the butt of this kind of racism you have to learn to laugh at it just to avoid the rage that it would (SHOULD) otherwise engender.

While living in "the south", my not-really-but-everybody-assumes-he-must-be-mixed-race son (his father is from India, and Indians are technically dark-skinned Caucasians) came home one day with a beaded necklace he had made (alternating black and white beads) in high dudgeon. When I asked him what was up, he told me he had made the necklace in art class to show that black and white people can live side by side in harmony. When the art teacher asked about his color choice, he told her that. She apparently leaned in close and whispered, "Why honey, that's a nice thought, but it just isn't so. White people and black people will NEVER be able to live together like that. The world would be a much better place if people would just stick to their own kind."

When I went to the school to register a complaint about this egregiously racist statement, the principal tried to blame me for being a "bad mother" and threatened to have my supposedly "deeply depressed" son turned over to a school counselor for "therapy". After going back and forth for a good 20 minutes, trying to redirect the conversation back to my complaint, I finally blew my stack and informed this woman that I would warn my son to refuse to talk to any adult at the school without my presence, to report any attempt to sidetrack him like this, and that I would sue her personally as well as the school district if she attempted to interfere in this manner or if my son came home with any more reports of racism or bigotry expressed by his teachers or school employees, and while we were at it, if the morning prayers over the intercom were not immediately stopped, I'd sue over that as well. In addition, if my son was so obviously "depressed", then why did they have him babysitting the kindergartners without ANY adult supervision instead of being allowed to participate in the after school activities he was SUPPOSED to be engaged in in their afterschool program (I had only found this out actually when I told my son I would be going in to talk to the principal). Because if he was THAT severely depressed it wouldn't be safe to put him in charge of younger children, and in fact it wasn't safe anyway because a 10 year old should not have the sole responsibility of caring for a group of 15 or 20 5 year olds.

Basically they had been using him as free labor, and when I showed up complaining about their racist asses, she tried to intimidate me by throwing things around about "child services" and non-existent mental disorders and forced Ritalin. Sadly for her, I don't intimidate. All this to attempt to punish and repress a kid who reacted to the racial bigotry around him by protesting it in a gentle, non-confrontational manner.

Obviously I took him out of the school-provided "after school" program because using a 10 year old (or anyone else) as free labor is totally unacceptable. They were essentially reinstituting slavery at the grade school level. Even aside from their ignorant backwards bigoted racist attitudes.

There's a sh**-ton of covert racism all across the country. And lately its been getting worse and worse and less and less covert. But the worst racism I have ever witnessed or experienced occurs with increasing viciousness and frequency as you move south. I imagine it IS worse in small towns, because very small towns are insular even within race. But in my experience, its still generally worse in the South.
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:17 PM
Location: Springfield, Ohio
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^wow, just wow. I think most racism in smaller northern towns comes from ignorance of white people who simply aren't exposed to many black people and go by stereotypes (similar to their stereotypes of foreigners). Most of the malicious, deep-seated racism still happens down south, and is usually taken less seriously than other parts of the country.
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Old 06-23-2019, 11:59 AM
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peywackette, your experiences with racism are horrible (though sadly, not shocking). i am from texas and left the state years ago because it never felt like home. the racism in the south is like nothing i've experienced any place else in the world. most of the people i know from small town texas feel hatred/prejudice toward anyone who does not view the world the way they do. they discriminate against people who differ in terms of skin color / sexual orientation / religion / lifestyle. i've been told by several "friends" in the south that i am going to hell because i am not a christian. they truly believe their way is the only way. my mom told me something is mentally wrong with anyone who is gay or transgender. when i asked why she felt that way she had no explanation and angrily snapped "they just are" as if she has been brainwashed by a cult and has no mind of her own to question what she has been told. the "n" word is STILL thrown around like confetti where i grew up.

there really is no "reasoning" for their beliefs. they feel threatened by people who are not like them. they do not travel and explore other cultures so they have a very limited and uneducated view of the world. men and women i grew up with still believe people who are not white american are worthless and should not be in this country. these people lack compassion and empathy. they will tell you the immigrant children in cages at the border deserve to be there because they are all animals who will grow up wanting to kill/rape us. the irony of it all, every racist/bigot/misogynist i know is in a toxic relationship where dishonesty/infidelity/abuse (of all kinds)/rape/alcoholism run rampant. i chalk it up to fear, ignorance and a cult like mentality that believes what they are told to believe without question. and no coincidence, every racist i know is a trump worshipper.
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Old 06-23-2019, 01:01 PM
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The Rural American South is definitely more welcoming to Blacks—for obvious reasons.
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