In life, Roechelle Cox reigned supreme over the two narrow checkout lanes at Zara’s Lil’ Giant Supermarket in Uptown, New Orleans. Customers were drawn to her masterful, everyday patter, conducted in a big, cheerful voice. Only later, when they plumbed their memories, did they realize that, despite hundreds of conversations, they knew almost nothing about her. In death, Roechelle Cox became a sphinx. It was up to a reporter to piece together her story.
The problem was always
how to give you the specifics.
For an artist looking to break through in the South —and hopefully the rest of the nation —the best place to start is in Greensboro, North Carolina.
no harp taught my hands the harmony
of sling and song. Unlike David it wasn’t Goliath
who fed me the fear of men.
The Deep South had always been a mythical place to me. As an immigrant child sequestered in a Midwestern state, my image of the South was clouded by humid summers and beautiful Black bodies. In the hallways of my imagination, the rich literary history of William Faulkner and Alice Walker ran around with Robert Johnson’s and Muddy Waters’s blues. And when I finally got there, the Deep South would change me.
The focus on pre-existing conditions overlooks the fact that the GOP health care bill does far, far more to devastate health care access. It is especially threatening for low-income and unemployed Americans living in rural areas—a disproportionate number of whom are Black and Latinx, a disproportionate number of whom live in the South.
In the bedroom Mary lets the fox out. She pets and pets it until it is silky smooth. The static in its fur pulses in her milk-white fingertips.
My physical presence reminded her there are real people on death row—living, thinking, feeling people who will be put to death because the law says, “Die.”
His civilian Ivy league self and your marine self, or your community college self and his Ivy league self, arrive with the full force of your American positioning at the same piece of intellectual terrain.
Keel’s a flat-picker who has shared the stage with greats like Tony Rice, Vassar Clements, Sam Busch, the Yonder Mountain String Band, Del McCoury, the Grammy award-winning Infamous Stringdusters, and New Grass Revival founder Curtis Burch. Since he was a child, fishing and music have been interwoven.
Being Southern-adjacent meant being able to visit family who spoke in dialect so reminiscent of the only Caribbean accent I could identify that I once asked my mother if we were Jamaican. It meant visiting my grandmother’s house, where the woods were pregnant with quiet, and the sky was brilliantly lit in its darkness by heavy stars.
The landscape laid out in S-Town’s seven episodes is one that I’m intimately familiar with. I grew up 3 hours south of Woodstock, in the slightly larger town of Enterprise. Bibb County, where S-Town takes place, was my throughway between home and college. The portrait that S-Town paints, not just of the people but of the place itself, is so lively and so honest that it feels almost intrusive. It feels like S-Town knows my own memories too well.
For Mother's Day this year, Southerners On New Ground (SONG), a regional queer liberation organization focused on the South the South, made a simple, transformative request of its members, its communities, and its affiliate organizations: Bail Black mamas out of jails.
In early 1938, the city of San Antonio arrested over a thousand of its residents during what the police chief called a “revolution.” In the city’s hundreds of pecan sheds, a mostly mexicana, mostly female workforce husked the nuts on their way to market for poverty wages -- and at the end of January, they decided to strike. That strike changed Texas politics permanently, and the work of the organizers who followed in their footsteps has lessons for the present-day left.
Betsy DeVos, the new Secretary of Education, subscribes to a philosophy of education that privileges the belief that an education should teach children what parents want them to believe. At first glance, this may not seem so unreasonable. In fact, DeVos' call for voucher programs and taxpayer-funded charter schools not only threatens religious freedom, but risks the health of our democracy as well.
Poor people are not stupid. They’re not criminals. They’re human beings that live in a society where jobs are drying up and opportunities often don't exist.
"Freedom songs" may sound like it describes relics of an older generation's civil rights movement. But this moment has its lyricists, too.
The concept of “the racist” is an obstacle for the proper study racism itself, because it allows us to heap our attention and blame on a small piece of the larger problem—rather than understanding racism as the system that structures racial inequality in societies all over the world. But killing this concept is going to be hard work.
After President Trump's executive order on immigration, protesters in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport had the support of local elected officials as they sought the released of detainees. Now, activists are working to make sure that local officials' commitments to just policy extend beyond the symbolic.
We know that this administration will actively try to take us back to a frightening pre-Roe place where our reproductive rights are restricted or non-existent. Yet, I know for a fact that I cannot and will not sit around for the next four years worrying about what should have, would have, or could have been.
The Moral Monday Movement and the pursuit of a Third Reconstruction.
Why did the Great U.S. Collapse of 2019 occur so rapidly, and what set it in motion? Looking back in a recent article, the Swedish scholar Inga Stenmark acknowledged various long-term causes but stressed a chain of short-term events. According to her research, the first domino fell on November 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump’s surprising presidential election victory.
"It's scary because I just know one country. I love Mexico because my parents taught me how to love my home country, but this is the country I grew up in, and thinking that I might leave… I know I don't have the power to change things right away, but I am here to fight for what I have to say..."
There is nothing new about what you represent. Your ancestors have hoodwinked, bamboozled, and murdered for the right to say, “This land is my land.” You don’t pay federal taxes to the democracy you now represent as its lead spokesperson. Yet the ancestors of slaves are paying taxes, and much more, for land that was never theirs to begin with.
Kentucky's expansion of Medicare and state-run health insurance exchange were models for states across the nation. Now Governor Matt Bevin wants to roll back both—against the dictates of good conscience, and against the advice of good research.
From June Bug to Hart of Dixie and Sweet Home Alabama, countless Northerners have fallen for imaginings of strong Southern types. To sort out Trump’s confused and hyperactive mind come stereotyped ideals father figures who speak slowly, softly, and with authority.
The characterization of the attack on Pulse as “the worst mass shooting in our country’s history” provides no way of understanding and historicizing this massacre. It demands national mourning while eliding a long history of racial violence in the U.S. South.
Whether or not Hillary Clinton is the next American President, she's come farther than any other woman who's run for the office. Is that a victory for all American women?
From the defacement of banners celebrating African American heritage to the choice to put the plantation house of John C. Calhoun on the cover of the commencement program, the last academic year at Clemson made it clear why many people of color don't feel at home on campus. In the first half of a two-part take on Clemson's struggle with race, Jonathan Beecher Field asks whether these were really honest mistakes, and what a path forward might look like.
There's a new wave of young Southern activists who've grown dissatisfied by the unequal distribution of economic growth in the South. As one of them says, “If we don’t do something, nothing will get done. I mean, who else is going to do it, but us?”
Scalawag correspondents provide ongoing updates from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia