For the past three years we have spent two months a year in the south. Two years were in Texas, this year in Arkansas. We also have traveled in Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina in the past. Until this year, our experience has been that Blacks are largely invisible, except when shopping in stores like Wal-Mart or at a shopping mall. When we did encounter one, they seemed uncomfortable if we talked to them, they didn’t look us in the eye. The races lived largely separate.
This year we spent a couple of days in Mississippi before coming to Arkansas. There, and here in Arkansas, we found African-Americans much more open to us, responding in a comfortable way. Here in Arkansas, we see them as tourists, as employees in the park and in local businesses, and there doesn’t seem to be the discomfort and separation we saw, especially in Texas. It is refreshing.