Last weekend, I went to visit a friend in middle-of-nowhere Louisiana. I hadn’t seen this childhood pal in 15 years, so our reunion was teary and heartfelt. As we walked towards each other, it felt like the space-time continuum folded. We will always have the bond of our childhood and I love her still, but if we met today, it is truly unlikely we would make friends if only for the context of our adult lives. I consider myself modestly well-traveled, but I have never seen some of the crazy shit I’ve seen in Louisiana anywhere else in the world. Now I can’t speak for Louisiana as an entire state. I visited a tiny pocket of the state known for its Steel Magnolias. I am speaking about a narrow experience and a fraction of time, so please don’t think the following conversation is meant to drape the whole state with the same Confederate flag. Each parish has its own personality, and these are just a few of the flavorful offerings of the one I visited.
Shocker # 1
There are drive-thru liquor stores. No shit. Drive up to the window and getcha a frozen drink. Why isn’t it an open container violation you ask? Because the drive-thru liquor store attendant didn’t put a straw in it, silly. Gotta love that Louisiana legal logic.
These bitches are armed. For reals. A handgun in the purse. Another gun in the desk drawer. A gun in the nightstand. A few more guns scattered about for good measure. And don’t forget the arsenal in the gun safe at Daddy’s house. “That’s where we keep the expensive guns,” they said starry-eyed. I asked these southern women why they keep all these guns and what it boiled down to essentially is rape fear. These mothers and professionals truly believe that a (black!) man is going to enter their home and then enter them. Rape happens for sure and more often than reported. You know what happens more often? A criminal breaks in when you aren’t home and steals all your guns and then uses them to perpetrate other crimes. Know what else happens? Kids stumble up on guns and shoot themselves or others.
In a town that is 60% black and 40% white, I found it shocking that there was virtually no racial integration. There is still a “black” part of town and a “white” part of town. I asked the women if they frequented any black-owned businesses or socialized with any black people. The answer was no. Confused, I asked why? According to them there aren’t a significant number of black middle class in their town. Apparently, bars cater specifically to white or black people by playing either country or rap. How progressive. The segregation looked at lot like apartheid. It was truly nauseating. That may sound like some white liberal bullshit, but I mean I literally felt physically sick amidst the palpable racial tension. I almost vomited when I heard the N-word causally dropped in conversation. What is this Paula Deen shit? It is shocking, disturbing, and frankly unbelievable that some parts of the country are stuck in a post-Civil war time-warp mentality. It is difficult not to sound judgmental, so I’m just not going to bother. The racism is gross and there is no excuse for it.