I was born in a very small North Texas town, and I was born a Negro…which became black…which became Afro/Black/African-American. But while American society came up with new names to call me based on my race, I just considered myself a Texan.
I remember as a child playing in the red dirt of my parent’s home town, eating Moon Pies, drinking grape Nehi or red cream sodas, giant pickles from a pickle jar, salt-and-vinegar chips like a home-grown Southern kid. I think it’s very telling that my earliest memories of living in the South centers around food.
Then we moved to Colorado and snow, which had been a novelty before but became a part of life. It didn’t take me long to realize that I’m not a huge fan of snow. My parents were surprised when we were showed homes in racially diverse neighborhoods. We wouldn’t be “blockbusting” after all.
Years later, circumstances and finances had me moving back to Texas and living with my parents. I was nervous at first, considering the stories my parents told me about growing up in the segregated South, but when I arrived and visited the small hometown my parents grew up in, I was shocked at what I saw.
A small North Texas town more racially integrated than some of the neighborhoods I left behind in Colorado.
After living in Colorado for 17 years, I came back to Texas. After living in Scotland for over seven years—I came back to Texas with my Scottish husband who loves it here.
Why? Because my roots run very deep here, unlike some of the politicians who have represented the state in recent history. Despite these “prominent” citizens, the people of Texas really are friendly, are caring, and do have common sense.
Living in Texas has made me appreciate history and especially the history of my family. History is nothing but a bunch of stories; some of it is fact, some of it is fiction, but it’s all about the story. Texans have been known to tell a tall tale or two.
The South is full of myths, legends, and stereotypes that mix in with reality and creates a wealth of inspiration for stories. But sometimes these elements turn into propaganda—for better or worse.
Is Texas perfect? Hell, no. Ever wondered why there are so many churches in the South? Because there’s a whole lotta sinnin’ goin’ on! You can’t take us at face value. You have to come and experience it for yourself.
So come on down to Texas. You may not have been born here, but like the bumper sticker says, you should get here as soon as you can.
Zetta Brown is an editor and the author of several published short stories and a novel. Her short story “Devil Don’t Want Her” is set in Texas and available as an ebook. She blogs about writing and editing at her Zetta’s Desk blog (zettasdesk.com) and has a featured blog at SheWrites.com called [REALITY CHECK]