Censoring Southern Space

Recently (if you haven’t picked up on this already) I’ve been thinking a lot about the South as a moral geography*, or as a place that is made up of cultural and political practices instead of a physical borders.  What are the stuffs that the South is made of beyond what I imagine it to be and what it looks like on a topographical map? What are the political practices that both shape the South and are read as southern political practices?

While pondering these questions, a friend sent me the following link. The long of the short is this: in December 2013, local archivists in Franklin County, NC uncovered a variety of documents in the Franklin County courthouse dating back to 1840.  As they began the arduous process of sorting through the papers, the North Carolina Archives became involved and halted their work.  The next thing they knew, someone had come in and burned all of the documents.  There are lots of ways to speculate about what these documents could have been, what they could have meant.  Some people reason that these documents contained records relating to the brief moment of property distribution to former slaves just after the Civil War.  Since most of that land was subsequently reclaimed by whites, these documents could have proven some land in North Carolina to be owned illegally today.  We won’t know what they meant besides the that they contained information important enough to be destroyed.

The story here is complicated and unclear, but it is just one example of the practices that censor the political and physical landscape of the South today.  Who owns and does not southern lands now did not arise out of nothing. It arose from the cultural and political practices of today and the cultural and political practices that make up the South’s history.


Some of the worst of the mold damage

To read more about this story, click here.

*Term coined in the works of Michael Shapiro, a political science scholar at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa

The Doors I Carry With Me: Part I

On Being Interviewed

The opportunity to consider my record, the journey that produced me (in the language of Baldwin) and the ways that journey stays with me in everything I do, doesn’t come around so often. As a white person, not only is that part of how my privilege works (I don’t have to think about it), but also there aren’t many times people care to hear about how I think my privilege has worked. No one wants to sit down with me while I detail the ways I see how I have been leveraged into certain places and positions because I am white.  Aaaaand I don’t blame them.  Mostly because it’s an incomplete picture.  So when I did have the chance to voice my histories through considering my journey, it was weird, a little bit awkward, and I sensed old specters of white guilt lurking. It was bewildering to hear myself being so honest with Alison and at the same time, as I fumbled through the ways my whiteness, class, southerness and “background” has been at work in the life I have lead thus far, I felt like I was arriving from a long trip–finally at home with myself.  It was nerve-wracking and, at the same time, invigorating because I was hearing myself think about what it means to be myself. What does this type of listening have to teach me about moving forward as a woman, feminist and ally to a variety of struggles from an honest place within myself. Listening to my oral history was like encountering a door, or many doors, actually.  Hearing myself come out of hiding in that safe space, walking through the door that day, I realized that it was a door I had created and that I have many doors I carry with me.
Coming Soon “The Doors I Carry With Me: Part II”