On My momma and Plantation Houses (Veranda, 2021)
Toward the end of 2020, my mom and I took a trip to Natchez, Mississippi—about five hours south of the small Mississippi town where I was born and raised, and about four hours south of the slightly bigger, but still small, Mississippi town where I live now.
We were going, as I say in the piece, to "look at white folks' houses," a thing we hadn't done in maybe 20 years. Twenty years ago, we were going to look at Christmas decorations. On that day in November of 2020, we were going to look at plantation houses.
In this essay—which will appear in Veranda's July/August print issue—I reflect on my momma, the houses, and the forever question of what should happen to them.
Here's an excerpt:
Momma and I stood in the middle of High Street looking up at Stanton. We saw what they meant by stunning. It was beautiful. How the emptying oaks stood tall and stretched out, like they were pretending to be bigger than they were. How, from the street where we stood, it looked like the stairs skipped the yard and went straight to the front porch, splitting four Corinthian columns in two, resting in the shadow of a small balcony perched above. How, from the balcony on the white house, my Black momma and me, her Black son, would have looked out of place—Momma was outside, and I was a free man—when Stanton was built.