It’s summer in the South. It hasn’t been that hot this year, at least in North Carolina. Our air-conditioner is broken, but it hasn’t mattered yet, the wall of heat that has usually descended by now has mercifully stayed at bay, allowing us room to move and breathe. But it’s during summer that I start to feel that I am in the South, really feel it. It’s the heat, I guess, because it is the heat which is its defining characteristic.
The heat, and slavery, of course. This summer, Paula Deen is getting in big trouble. White Americans always act surprised at racism, especially the blatant kind. But it’s all around us all the time. Like, have you ever been to Savannah? That place is haunted. It is full of ghosts and places like Plantation House of Pancakes. I took this picture in Myrtle Beach this spring, but these places are everywhere in the South. So Southerners aren’t surprised at blatant racism. Because they eat their breakfast at places called Plantation House of Pancakes.
This week I sent my son to YMCA camp. The room where the kids play has no windows and grey industrial carpet, and Disney radio plays in the background. For their craft they glued goldfish crackers to a paper plate. It’s not as nice as his preschool, where they made their own paper and had only seven kids in the class, and learned about cabbage whites and why it’s important to add details to your self-portrait.. But the big difference is that not all the kids in his class are white. The preschool was all white, except for my boy. He was the only brown kid in his class. There was one other kid with curly hair, and for a while Sacha was confused. He thought Timothy was brown too.
On Friday, I will turn forty. I’m going up north so that I can turn forty in Northern Ontario, in the same town where I turned four. Summer up north is different. I’ll need to remember to bring my jacket.