I initially read The Washington Post article, “The Confederate flag resurged. The KKK burned a cross. Racial tensions flared in a Southern town,” then The Courier-Tribune’s, “Mayor: We have work to do. The whole world has work to do.”
While I can imagine that aspects of Dexter Trogdon Jr.’s interview were sensationalized, the reality is that in rural pockets of North Carolina racial tension is palpable.
I have lived, traveled and worked in various areas of North Carolina and eastern North Carolina; Havelock specifically has a different cultural feel. This area should be one of the most diverse in North Carolina, given the military presence. However, the town feels more reflective of an oppressive South than a military town where Confederate flags, “Make America Great Again” and Trump bumper stickers are often side by side.
Mr. Trogdon stated he thought about moving his family; this is a sentiment I understand all to well. I currently have an hour and 15 minute commute from Jacksonville to Havelock because the idea of being a single, black female living in Havelock felt like a safety concern, given all the racial and political tension in the media; although I’m not faced with a Confederate monument on my morning commute, I do encounter the well-preserved Foscue Plantation, complete with a massive cotton field.
For those that felt The Washington Post article was “race baiting,” it is not, but it is an opening to much-needed conversation regarding race relations and a glimpse into the world that so many African-Americans have grown all too accustomed to living in.