You’re OK until they see your house

A woman on Tremaine Lee’s show about his trip through the Confederate South told of how her father was lynched. The local newspaper just put it right in the headlines: an White mob, enraged by this Black man’s success, murdered him.

There is a scene in Mississippi Burning where the FBI agent from the South is explaining the South to the young agent with no experience in the South. He described how his father, a dirt farmer, had no mule and so could not farm properly. They left the South, but on the way out the agent, a child, saw the Black farmer’s mule lying dead in the pasture. His father just said, “If a man isn’t better than a nigger, he is not worth anything.”

The rule was stated long ago: in the North, the White man doesn’t care how big the Black man’s house is as long as it is nowhere near his; in the South, the White man doesn’t care how close the Black man’s house is to his as long as it is smaller.

So it was no surprise when several times people my wife worked with and who had treated her civilly would turn on her after they had, for some reason, seen her house. This is what some call the Southernization of America.

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