So I'm back from my historic trip to the historic campus of University of Mississippi and the historic first presidential debate (Am I the only one that thinks the word historic has lost a little bit of meaning with its overuse this election season? Doesn't anyone own a thesaurus?). It felt like a trip down my grandmother's memory lane - fried food dripping with trans fat, confederate flags waving, and racism. And you know what? I loved it. It was kitschy, and comical, and slightly amusing. I was safe in my car filled with white liberals and wore my northern intellectualism and elitism with pride - because wisdom is the end of all fear, right? So knowing that left is right and the south is wrong made me feel confident as we sat outside watching the debate surrounded..and I mean surrounded...by hundreds of southern white folks applauding McCain with fervor and booing Obama. This just isn't real life I chuckled to myself.
But as I packed up my bag this morning and hopped on a plane back to the safe liberal world of progressive Washington D.C. I paused for a moment and remembered that wait...it actually is real life for the people that live there and that the black student groups I met with last week told me stories of reality so frightening that they closed their eyes and dreamed of an imaginary land, far far away, where there could be a black homecoming queen, and Obama signs didn't get torn down, and professors didn't treat them like they were stupid. Their fairytale land was my reality - and their reality was my nightmare. So I said a quick but heartfelt prayer for that land of the past, good old Mississippi, closed my eyes, and flew back to the future.