birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Too Close to Home

We thought we were far enough from home to escape signs of it. "They're more enlightened on the other side of the pond," we'd said as we hopped on the luxurious Virgin Airlines flight to London. Yeah, they speak English, yeah they're one set of forebears of our country (though many would attempt to argue they're the only ancestors that matter, I refuse to claim that the 200-years-late British-band-wagoners were the masterminds of this project), but they're too linked to the rest of the world to keep our antiquated views about the world. We ignored the perseverance of the monarchy, entrenched classism, the creation of whiteness.

So needless to say we didn't expect to see a Confederate flag flying in a backyard by the train tracks. "Was that...?" We both turned to one another at the same time to ask, but trailing off before we dared to speak it into truth.

It was just the day before that a young black man in Brixton had stopped to ask whether the movie Selma were true when we told him we were from Alabama. "That Jim Crow real? You have to use a separate water fountain an all that?" He asked my husband, awed that people would choose to live in a place like that. My husband laughed. "No, not all that, but there's still problems there. It's just more subtle now. No signs."

On our first night we got lost looking for our air-b-n-b and two teens asked us similar questions while they waited with us for the next bus, more helpful than we had expected them to be, considering we'd interrupted their deep discussion about some "fit" girl on Instagram.

"Wow, that history is a distant, foreign memory to them," we remarked later. "They think it's like in the movies." And I was reminded of my family in Connecticut who ask the same questions, their ideas of the South as racist helps their own narrative about how progressive the North is.

How easy it is to implicate others without acknowledging your own hand. A couple of years later, of course there was Brexit.

Looks like there's nowhere too far removed from hate.

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