Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Synopsis

Trudier Harris will tell you that African Americans who consider themselves Southern are about as rare as summer snow. But Harris has always embraced the South, and in Summer Snow she explores her experience as a black Southerner and how it has shaped her into the writer and intellectual she has become.

Excerpt

I was born black and female in February 1948 in the southern part of the United States, specifically Alabama, which means that I was born into a sharply segregated environment in which the lines between black and white were visible and invisible, physical and mental. It means that I grew up among people who understood precisely the boundaries in their world and observed them almost unconsciously. At that time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, there were black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods, sometimes within a few hundred feet of each other, in patterns duplicated many times over throughout the town. There were black schools and white schools, and it was not unusual for black children to walk or ride buses through white neighborhoods on their way to black schools. White businesses usually hired black workers, for few blacks owned businesses that could sustain the black community or cater to white clientele. the traditional exceptions in black business, of course, were beauty and barber shops; fish fry, chitlin, and barbecue joints (often in private homes); and funeral homes. the general pattern was that black people left their communities and went into white businesses or homes, or white-supervised jobs such as construction work, to earn their livings.

Blacks in that era knew instinctively what they could and could not do in Tuscaloosa. We could shop in a white-owned business, such as a clothing store or a shoe store, but we could not be leisurely in trying on the merchandise. Consequently, many of us grew up with ill-fitting shoes that left cosmetic scars or had more serious consequences in the way we walked. We could get credit at a white-owned grocery store . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.