By Glenn Henry

Dear Fellow Southern White and Black Citizens,

We must have an honest discussion about race, based on our own individual and personal experiences. As a 63-year old African-American my perspective is different than most persons of color. The following are my personal beliefs, opinions and viewpoints about our South, that I Love.

First, as Southerners we must stop allowing ourselves to become the “Whipping Boy” for the whole United States. We are not America’s “Misfits,” based on my personal experiences, being raised in Beaufort, North Carolina.

In the first and second grades, I attended an all-black Queen Street School. In the third grade, about seven students, including my brother and I, had the voluntary opportunity, to attend the all-white Beaufort Elementary School.

The mayor of Beaufort correctly advised my parents that everything will be fine. We already had white friends and playmates, prior to attending the school. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents never displayed, nor taught us to hold, any animosity toward white persons, although, slavery, the Confederacy, civil rights and voting rights have occurred.

Most persons in my family made great decisions, and they have earned and obtained pretty much everything they wanted from life, and our great country.

During high school I was allowed the opportunity to become a school bus driver in the 11th and 12th grades. I would pick up my fellow classmates and drive everyone to school. The governors were set at 35 miles per hour.

In Carteret County, North Carolina, many white persons, who are tied to Southern Confederate roots, would invite me to travel on their sailing boats, shrimp trawlers, scallop boats, deep sea fishing vessel, and channel fishing boats—free of charge- along with free training, setting bluecrab pots, finding oysters and clams.

I retired from the U.S. Air Force at the age of 36 years old and I had numerous opportunities. Saw the world, and earned numerous university degrees Including a master’s degree, some post masters level education specialist degree credits, and earned numerous doctoral -level courses in Public Administration.

I have owned numerous businesses, taught high school, and I have been a newspaper columnist and a university adjunct professor. I have earned numerous certifications. Presently, I’m a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker.

In Alabama, a white commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans helped me to start a vending business, while working on my master’s degree. After having 25 vending locations including numerous post offices and businesses I had the opportunity to get another location for a new business that was under new construction.

The white owners stated I could have the business as long as I placed all new machines in place. I explained this to the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The commander ordered the machines for me, and he said pay me back whenever you can- without any contract or agreement in writing.

I paid him back in 3 months. I offered him the location, since I didn’t have the $5000 in my pocket at the time. I didn’t want to go into debt for any of the machines. I have never had any of my own Black Folks, help me in this manner.

I often and wrongly hear from others, about how bad the Sons of Confederate Veterans are, and how terrible, the Confederate Flag may be. In contrast, numerous Southern Confederates allowed me to fish on their property in South Montgomery, who said you can fish on my property whenever you like. Just make sure the gate is locked when you leave. Bass and catfish were so huge, I had to often just back up and drag the fish on the bank to preclude losing the catch.

I can guarantee white and black Southerners a few things. Based on my upbringing, experiences, and my love for you, and my love of the South, I will never make white persons feel guilty, based on their history, and their heritage. I will never make them turn pink, nor cause them to turn red, or make them blush, or feel embarrassed based on their parents and their ancestry.

I have no scores to settle with white persons. During my lifetime, I have never been unemployed, never been on welfare, and I have never drawn an unemployment check.

A new wrong, and maligned new normal today, appears to be, all or nothing, on any issue. Most damaging today, numerous whites are being pressured to think one way, or be wrongly labeled as racists. For example, concerning kneeling during the National Anthem, or hearing whites real and honest opinion concerning the Confederate Flag. I don’t argue with white people if their beliefs, views, opinions and thoughts differ from mine. By the way we are not going to get 100 percent agreement on any issue anyway.

Recently, some famous persons, have gotten themselves in hot water, just for stating their honest opinions, then changing their opinion to group think, after being criticized. If we continue along these same lines, our freedom of speech will be exterminated. Our individual free expressions, thoughts, and beliefs will be rendered, only through coercion and threats of others, which doesn’t allow a Republic, nor Democracy.

While a huge percent of our citizenry agree police reforms, are needed, and each law enforcement person committing crimes must face the court system for justice.

Much of the piling on is occurring and is being fueled by, the upcoming elections in November. The piling on are the numerous issues that fall outside police reforms, which are the main issues. Now all issues going back to slavery are being placed on the table for argument and debate.

On both sides of the aisle we are seeing polling data and arguments that can’t be validated. None of the sides are providing all factors measured, because they know we will be able to use our scientific calculators to figure out what they have done.

Many of my fellow Soul Brothers, and my fellow Soul Sisters, will not write a column, stating positive truths about Southern whites. They are afraid someone will call them Honorary White Man, Uncle Tom, or Aunt Sue.

In closing, as white and black Southerners, we must ensure that we are no longer identified as the “Whipping Boy” and portrayed as America’s “Misfits.” In my eyes, our Southerners can do no wrong. Our Southerners of 2020 are awesome. The Southern white man taught me how to fish. Today, all I need is a match, for my fish and seafood fry.

(16) comments

dc

Thank you, Mr. Henry, for standing up for and speaking the truth. Hopefully, your insightful and inspiring letter will be read far and wide. You are a great American, North Carolinian, Carteret Countian and Southerner. All the best from a little older fellow countian with memories very similar to your own.

Beacon

Funny, my life mirrors Mr. Henry’s right down to driving a school bus in high school to serving in the USAF. Only I am a Southern White. I long felt Southern Blacks and Southern Whites have a lot in common. We have suffered together on many issues that relate to our social economic status nationally. I hope we will not let outside influencers damage the harmony and progress we have made in Carteret Cty on race relations. Any issues we have we can resolve ourselves.

David Collins

And this is the way things should be . Respect matters .

SandFiddler

Thank you for such a beautifully written, inspirational, straight from the heart letter. This should be published everywhere across the country and on billboard signs too. It literally brought tears to my eyes. Your letter is the solution to unite all and stop the nonsensical behaviours, destructiveness across the country. You are right, the natives from Beaufort and for that matter Carteret County, no matter their color, have always respected one other, learned from each other, played together, helped one another, worked side by side with each other, loved our history, laughed and sang together and never even thought about color. The citizens of our county are to be admired for rising above racial issues. You, Glenn Henry, are one we are proud to call our own... even though you didn't send the Thunderbird flyover (grins)

rooster

Very well said Glenn. Definitely paints the true picture that I also remember. It's too bad that way of life is being torn apart.

PINEYPOINTER

I have a Confederate Flag.It represents the South to me not racism.also to pi-- off some dingbatter yankee! lol

toothfairy

Pride in your heritage is a wonderful thing until it morphs and manifests itself into putting your "group" above another using derogatory names and descriptions as put-downs.

I grew up in the great state of Maine never knowing, and rarely ever seeing a black person, also never hearing a racial slur or a negative reference to a southerner. None if that existed in all of my life living in the North.

It wasn't until I moved to NC 30 years ago that I became aware that not only black people were marginalized by the native whites but we "Yankees" were also, as quite evident by Piney Pointer's unflattering reference to "dingbatter Yankee". I am as proud of my heritage as y'all are, and especially proud that I grew up in a very old house where run-away slaves found safe refuge from their bondage and servitude in the south.

My home town proudly displays the statue of a black man rising up out of an underground tunnel built solely for that purpose.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chamberlain-freedom-park

I personally see nothing wrong with the confederate flag, and it for sure, has no meaning for me, one way or another; but openly and with malice referring to Northerners as "dit dots" and "dingbatters" is not nice and only serves to perpetuate existing prejudices. I have heard those terms used thousands of times myself, openly because they are not stifled by the color of my shin. Don't build barriers and then blame the other person for trying to overcome them.

We only want to be excepted for our hearts, deed and character, not verbally and otherwise rejected solely for the place of our birth.

There are good and bad people everywhere, but by putting unflattering labels on people or groups of people does nothing good for personal or community relationships. Much of this is what is terribly wrong in this country right now.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

One doesn't have to live very long in Durham, N.C. to experience the militant attitude of the blacks there. White are no welcome in many areas of the city. While it is better in some areas, the larger cities are quite different. One has to wonder where racism really lives these days.

SandFiddler

In defense of PineyPointer's comment of "dingbatter" and for those who don't know, dingbatter and ditdot terminology are some of our favorite terms but there is no malevolence intended towards anyone. For that matter, we call ourselves "hoi toiders" - translated to High Tiders and/or a "native". Our Outer Banks dialect is just one of the appealing things that fascinates others and draws visitors to our area. It was influenced by seventeenth century English regional settlers along with Irish and perhaps Scottish. Another term we use is "foreigner" which is similar to dingbatter and ditdot - meaning someone not "native" to our community. Our chosen word for very calm water is "slick cam". I wonder if our beautiful bodies of water are offended by such terminology? Our dialect is not "deragotory", nor does it indicate"predjudices". It is not unflattering nor is it meant to be perceived as such. It is just a part of who we are. When someone moves down here and lives here for years, they certainly must not be offended by it or they would leave. "Mommicked"-meaning (harassed, bothered or aggravated) is what I'm feeling right now having to defend our roots, words and ways. We do not try to change anyone's ways or accents , so we would appreciate it if others don't try to change us, our ways and most of all our distinct vocabulary.

David Collins

One of the things that drive locals crazy is that when a transplant arrives , they usually say how much they love the quiet charm of the area . Sadly , not many moons pass before you here I wish we had this and that and whatever like we had up North . Next thing that happens is apparently the word gets out and here come the very same things they fled from . They end up bringing Jersey or Connecticut to Down East ruining it for everyone .

SandFiddler

True David. We sadly have to watch our quaint sea port communities transform into a metropolis. We sadly, with very heavy hearts, watch our leaders with $ signs in their eyes, bow down and cater to transplants' every wish and whim with absolutely no regard of the original appeal of the community nor its natives. Thankfully, we "hoi toiders" will still have our memories and those can never be taken away.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

I disagree with sandfiddler: dingbatter was never intended to be anything other than a negative adjective. Many natives just wish they would go home.

David Collins

Am quite sure the original inhabitants of this area felt the same way . The ding batters would not be here if a Downeaster had not sold the property . Original sin . Flush with money , the floodgates opened and we have what we have . Same all over the country . Called Progress .

CARTERETISCORRUPT

It saddens me that the culture that was Carteret has been long ago killed in the name of the dollar. IT is true that locals were tempted and sold out when dingbatters waved dollars in their faces. And they did sell out; their heritage, their culture, their past. All for paper. I was raised in the 60's and 70's in Beaufort. IT was a splendid little town back then. Now, just like any other commercial tourist trap. Aren't we proud?

CARTERETISCORRUPT

It was mentioned here that we have our memories of our home, that can never be taken away. After one or two generations, it will be completely forgotten. IT is surprising how little is remembered now. For example, it was quite amusing that the new owners of the old Beaufort High School gym were surprised to find the school emblem at center court. Natives all knew it was there, as we used to play in the gym. Lots of memories there as well, soon to be lost forever.

SandFiddler

Reminiscences of Beaufort School, the gym, that emblem,the autographed football that disgustingly wound up in a thrift shop, Queen Street School and their marching band, warm the heart. Who can forget Randolph Johnson, the principal of Queen Street,The (original) Spot and Mrs. Murphy's store across the street? The community was in a good place. There was genuine camaraderie as Glenn Henry described. Police were respected and they respected us. Leaders were leaders who wouldn't have considered succumbing to small, non-profit groups/associations/volunteers (or whatever they want to call themselves) that somehow always manage to dictate/divide our community with the eventual result of nonsensically and tackily padding their obituaries. In addition, our district has been replaced with, among other things, commercialism and tourism. Most recently there are culture club and protest meetings over racial divide both of which, in my opinion, can serve as positive therapy but, at the same time, dissever us further by inciting more hostile behavior. I hope Glenn's positive letter, which serves to educate and unite, will be read by all.

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