Old battlefields of racism run deeper than the Deep South

Nearly 30 years ago I stood in the shade of a willow tree overlooking a Civil War battleground in Georgia, contemplating the blood that had been spilled on those now lush, green grasses carpeting the rolling hills of Kennesaw Mountain.

After living in the Deep South for close to 10 years, the last several of which were spent in Atlanta, I felt I had a different perspective from many southerners regarding that period of our nation’s history. Admittedly, having come from Oregon, I felt a certain kinship to The South’s identity as a rebel.

Yet at the same time, I found it hard to walk the thin line between recognizing The South’s undeniable history while overlooking the shadows of racism intertwined with it.  Continue reading

Looking for excitement? Try feeding your arm to a catfish

Yes, that's me — the one INSIDE the catfish.

Yes, that’s me — the one INSIDE the catfish.

After living in the Deep South for 10 years, I occasionally feel a strong urge to return. When that happens, I just remind myself that as beautiful and historic and hospitable as the South is, it contains people who use themselves as bait for catfish that are roughly the size of an Airstream travel trailer. Generally speaking, these people are not intoxicated or medicated. Nor is there any evidence to support that they are the victims of mind-controlling aliens who have simply grown bored waiting for the invasion.

No. These folks WANT to hunt catfish by sticking their bare hands into underwater burrows, knowing full well it could be the hiding place of a cottonmouth, snapping turtle, or Dick Cheney. Continue reading