Neither Black nor White

Neither Black nor White

Neither Black nor White

Neither Black nor White

Excerpt

How shall we say when we began this journey? Was it when some distant ancestor shouldered his long rifle and made a dusty march to defeat the British redcoats somewhere in the Carolinas? Was it when our fathers came here, or remained here, despite the lure of other regions, because there was something in the South which held their attention and allegiance? Was it years ago, when we made our own first journey from the high pungent balsams of the Great Smokies down through the wide lonely country of the longleaf pine to the ancient stillness of the live oaks with their grey burdens of Spanish moss?

Or was it yesterday, when we rode in an airplane and looked at the tidy patterns of green field and forest and blue water and grey town, hills subsiding into flatlands, streams growing into rivers, and rivers spilling into ocean and gulf, the honeycomb and swarm of the city suddenly giving way to the solitary little farmhouse far down an unpaved road? Was it when we rolled along the roads, in bus and train and car, seeing the lighted windows at night and a sickle of moon above quiet pastures and deserted streets, waves of heat which shimmered up from a glazed pavement on August afternoons, and the miles marked by signs of the United States Government and the military installations? Was it when we walked on the red clay or black muck or white sand, among the dark shanties of "Jimtown" or "Jaybird" on a rainy afternoon, or along paths which may lead anywhere: to a weather-beaten country church, a state-park waterfall, a moonshiner's still. It's a journey begun a long time ago--continuing long after these words. And this is the journal, not so much of finalities discovered as of possibilities confronted.

Why the journey? Many reasons, some simple to explain and understand, others complex and possibly incommunicable--but two reasons above all others from the beginning. First, we had spent most of our lives (and more important to some people, our taxes) in the South. We knew that the South is not a place, it is many places; it is not a people, it is many people; it is not even a way of life, but many ways in many lives.

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