I grew up in a town called Bells, one of the five small towns that make up Crockett County in West Tennessee. The county is 83 percent white--I am also white--14 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic. (For comparison, according to 2016 Census data, Tennessee's population is only 17 percent black and 5 percent Hispanic.) The median household income is $35,000, and 19 percent of the county's 14,411 residents live below the poverty line. Most of the people I went to school with are still there. The area is deeply rural--the main highway that winds through the county is framed by cotton fields and pastures where cows keep a lazy watch over passing cars. Friday night football reigns supreme; game attendance is only second in importance to church. Many families have been here for generations, passing down their farmland and businesses to their children and grandchildren.It can be a lovely place to live, but in counties like Crockett, it's hard to be anything other than white. So I decided to go back home and talk to the people I should have been talking to all along--people of color who live and work and go to school with white Trump supporters. They told me how it feels to live among neighbors who voted against their best interests and--worst case--their basic existence.
Turner's mom, who cleans houses in town for a living, went to work a couple of days after that, and her employer, an older white woman, brought up the results of the recent election. The two had talked politics before--Turner's mom is a Democrat, and her employer is a Republican. "Well, you might as well come and live with me now," the employer said. "You gonna be mine eventually."She called her daughter in tears. Turner immediately got in her car and picked her mother up to bring her home.Last year before the election, a young woman Turner described as one of her best friends casually mentioned she hoped for a Trump victory so that he might "do away with some of these African American people." She quickly clarified that she wasn't referring to Turner's "type," but when Turner sharply asked her what she meant, she couldn't answer. Another friend assured her that it would be okay if Trump won the election because she would convince her parents to purchase Turner's family as their new slaves. In a place where a few large plantation-style houses remain scattered through the county, the "joke" feels a lot like a threat.
Disagree. I think they haven't eaten enough lead.