Y’know, I’ve long thought that out of all the different regions of America, the one region (with perhaps the exception of DC itself) that influenced the nation out of all proportion to its population is the MS Delta. It has always been ground zero for racism in America. Their longtime senators Stennis and especially Eastland and the Dixiecrats before them wielded outsize influence in Congress and ensured that Confederate ‘heritage’ would forever be near-and-dear to southern Whites.

I will say, though, that while racism is the enduring negative legacy of the Delta, it also gave us the great masters of the Blues and, by extension, all the influence that the Blues has had on all modern music. We hardly hear a song today that doesn’t owe at least some debt to the Black juke joints of the MS Delta.

I know, I’m rambling. Please forgive me. That’s getting off-subject and in no way excuses the racism. It’s just that even though I’ve rejected all my family that remains there (all distant — the close ones have all passed away), and I’ll never step foot in the Delta again simply because the racism’s so thick that I can’t have a conversation with anyone(or even walk into a store) there without feeling it, almost smelling it like smoke from a not-too-distant fire, but there’s a lot that I sorely miss…most of all, I think, sitting on the porch watching the sunset on just-warm-enough evenings, listening to the crickets and doves over by the bayou, smelling the dirt and grass, maybe some heat lightning in the distant clouds…and not a single human sound to be heard. It’s so peaceful. And then the reverie is spoiled as I remember my family gathered around the dinner table a little while later, discussing their interactions with the local Blacks (of course, “Blacks” wasn’t the word used).

It’s so peaceful there — it could be heaven, if people would just let it. But instead, they make it hell for those with a darker shade of skin.

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Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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