The Southeast region of the United States was Ground Zero for the largest migration of people in the history of the modern world. From WWI to 1970, six million black people left the South headed for “The Warmth of Other Suns“. (Written by Isabel Wilkerson). Yet, recently, there’s been a reverse migration back to the South by black retirees and others tired of the stress found in over-crowded urban life in the North and West.
I bought a house three months ago in Randolph County on 10 acres seeking to repair my weary nerves and begin the process of learning to love myself again. I knew I needed to create nurturing sanctuary for myself, and in a part of being where the Vietnam Era Veteran is still bewildered, I think I half imagined a place patrolled by dogs inside locked fences and a trusty shotgun waiting reasuredly next to the back door.
What I’ve found so far is a region still wrapped in the trauma of the Civil War. People who both are calmer and more open than I am, yet oddly, often tense for no apparent reason. Young female cashiers often snapped rudely at me. Having been told people value niceness here, I often left stores scratching my head. I gradually learned that someone unsolicitedly announcing they were Christians almost inevitably signaled they were about to throw a brick at the middle of my forehead. I began to snap back making things worse.
Yes, there are white men who will talk about, “The Confederacy” in the present tense (identity issues), and black people deeply swimming in the Crab Barrel of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome— but I was unprepared to discover that it was not the still alive, good old boy systems I had to fear… but other blacks.
The Southeast is still a very conservative place and the many of the people I met in California adamantly refuse to ever return. My land is beautiful. I have nine out-buildings…. three barns, a chicken house, livestock houses, three wells, and other small structures. The area rests within the range of the Great America Forest that stretches from Missouri to Washington, DC.
Be prepared to be be awed by nature’s beauty, silenced by the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and stirred by the many forms of beauty so many black people walk around in. Be also prepared to deal with the affects of decades… centuries.. of untreated generational trauma. Untreated trauma turns into personality disorders like, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline PD, Narcissism, and others… but as Peter K. Gerlach, MSW, says, underneath it all.. rest Toxic Shame.
This is the area that American Apartheid legally sanctioned some human beings as, “three-fifths of a man,” and those traumatized by that dehumanization are the first to reinforce the limits of that boundary. They do it through malicious gossip, shaming, and the chains that come with Fundamentalist Christianity. Have fun… but remember, you’re going to be tested and it’s up to you to find out how to keep your self-esteem by addressing idiots (because trust me… they’ve already spotted your out-of-state license plates) in assertive by ways that allows them to keep the remaining vestiges of their torn self-esteem.
There are a lot of good people here… but there is also a “slave mentality” that you’ll have to step avoid. Dysfunctional families and cultures tear each other down, so have a goal and place your happiness in it and the right people will show up. If you have a program that heals, know that this may well be the land of opportunity for you. The economy is down so you’ll be able to afford far more than you will in other parts of the country… but my advice is to bring your retirement check with you… because I’d hate to have to depend on the kindness of these strangers to survive on.