'Our Blacks'

It's always mildly irritating to see week of conversation around race and national politics boiled down to "Is Rick Perry racist?"


Much more interesting than the politicians are the people they represent:

Jan Gannaway, a Haskell native who is white, said integration took time. 

"We weren't integrated nearly as rapidly as the North," she said. "But we've always had a different relationship with our blacks than the North has, too. It's often been said, and I think it's true, we love them individually and kind of distrust them as a group, whereas in the North, they don't want to get too close to them individually but they embrace them as a group."

I guess. I tend to think that in a town where "our blacks" is an actual phrase, integration will tend to go slow. 

I've heard many variations on the love them as individual theme. It does get at a deeper truth -- that white and black Southerners generally come from the same seed, and are entwined in a way, the black and white Northerners are not.

My wife is taking a class on racism and intellectual thought. She's amazed that many of the early scientists arguing that black people are a separate species aren't slave owners, whereas many of the people arguing for the humanity of black people, are slave-owners. It makes a strange kind of sense. The slave-owners were surrounded by blacks. They weren't just sitting around examining skulls. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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