Sold down the River

During the horrible times in Ferguson, Missouri, a good-friend of mine from the Delta called and we spoke of the murder of Michael Brown. She escaped the Delta to become a liberal and a journalist. During our conversation, she told me a story behind the racial attitudes in the region called the Delta. Eight states make up this region: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. In many of those states the Confederate Flag still waves from porches and pick-up trucks.

The slaves who were fortunate enough to work in the plantations near the port cities of the Delta rivers shared one great fear—the fear of being sold down river. The plantations down the river were known to be the worst of the worst, where beatings were commonplace and families had no chance of staying together. These large, cotton plantations were run like a commercial industry. They treated the slaves like dogs and grew wealthy from their sweat and soul. The field work was hot, dirty and when the sun was at high noon it must have felt like they were in an oven. The sun-rays broiled them and the hard summer dirt cooked their bodies. A slave sold down river…rarely survived.

What I figure is this…The Delta has always been the land of the white man. I hope I am wrong, I often am wrong. What happened in Ferguson, Missouri, brought attention to the racist mind-set that has existed for centuries. The Ferguson police acted as if their racist mind-set was the norm. I pray that the death in Ferguson of college-bound Michael Brown will keep that light shining brightly until the Delta is a safe refuge for all God’s children.

I thought of this, as I read a list of racist words on today.

“Sold down the river:”
This phrase, meaning “betrayed” or “cheated” originated in the Mississippi River region during the American slave trade. “Troublesome” slaves would literally be sold down the river to southern Mississippi where the plantation conditions were much harsher.

Knowing the reality about the term today, I felt like speaking up for Ferguson, MO. As a southern white woman, I cannot believe that any man/woman/child could ever own another man and his family because of the color of their skin. Slavery was an abomination and a deep scar in our culture.

I read the rest of the list and the words are not worth repeating. Though, I do take exception to one term. I am sure what is written is true that slaves were kept in the upper gallery, the peanut gallery, during church.

I promise you, that when this old hippie grandmother uses the term, “peanut gallery,” I am referring to Howdy Dowdy and my formerly young children.

Also, I think I just offended the citizens of eight states. I am now leaving the country on a jet plane.

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