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Culture Shock In South Carolina

Updated on August 11, 2015

It Was A Different World

Life in rural South Carolina during the early 1960’s was a different world. It was for me anyway. My life up to that point had been spent as a “military “brat” traveling the world with my family following dad from one Air Force Base to another.

Then it happened. Dad went to Vietnam. He was born in a small town in South Carolina and decided that’s where our family would live until his tour of duty was over. This arrangement suited us fine since we had never lived there before. Was I in for a culture shock! Racism ran rampant during those years and was something I had never experienced.

Military families, during my lifetime, have always been integrated. Nationalities of all kinds go to the same schools and theaters, shop the same stores, join the same clubs and on and on.


I became keenly aware of prejudice the first day in our new town. I had made a new friend and he was showing me around. It was a hot summer day and we became thirsty and decided to buy a couple of soft drinks. There was a small general store a short distance down the street so we headed there. When I got to the store, I saw a sign proclaiming “whites only." This had to be a joke I thought. My friend caught up to me and stopped. I went in but he didn’t. My new friend happened to be black and assured me the sign was not a joke.

Suddenly I became a lawyer and informed my friend this was illegal and eventually convinced him to enter with me. He timidly followed close behind.

Once inside I told the store keeper we would like to buy a couple of sodas and was promptly notified I could buy a drink but my friend couldn’t. Then, I ordered two drinks, and as the proprietor scowled, gave one to my pal. We left in short order and I never shopped at his store again.

However, this was not the only type of prejudice I experienced. My white peers made life difficult for me as well. It seemed I wasn’t like them. I spoke, acted and dressed a little differently. And of course I associated with everybody no matter what race they were. They couldn’t or wouldn’t accept these things. I was goaded into fights almost daily, as if it made them better than me. Fortunately, I was a pretty tuff little kid and didn’t lose many fights. Unfortunately, if they couldn’t win one on one there would be two to fight the next day.

The years have passed now and I’m middle aged living in South Carolina and have been for a while. Have things changed? Yes. There have been major improvements in attitudes and tolerance for others. But from time to time I still see vestiges of the old south. Maybe someday we’ll all grow up.


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    • realtalk247 profile image

      realtalk247 22 months ago

      Suddenly I became a lawyer and informed my friend this was illegal and eventually convinced him to enter with me. –Many illegal actions and liberties are violated on a daily basis from businesses/corporations to civil rights, etc. People are not aware of their rights, particularly in the south and those that are realize that they cannot say anything against certain abuses and violations because the legal and justice system does not operate equally for all in the south.

      I spoke, acted and dressed a little differently. Bring on the hate. That hasn’t changed. You’re dealing with a society of minorities that still believe/tolerate that they cannot enter the store and purchase that soda. In many ways your African American friend understood the racist operations rules. Now magnify that to workplace hiring, workplace wages, and treatment of others in the south.

      I beg to differ on major improvements. Yes, there are a few figure heads representing some type of change and achievements by minorities but in no way this progress does not represent the treatment of the masses. The south clings to racism and mistreatment of “outsiders” and that has not changed. People are not aware of their rights because fighting for justice is nearly impossible here. Debtors prisons on the rise in places in the south-unconstitutional but heck-people do what they want in the south forget the constitution. The massacre at the church in South Carolina proves nothing has changed. What’s sad is for the sake of embarrassment or presenting states as if they are progressive, fair, and equal-those that experience mistreatment will stand up and defend this way of life like it’s right. It’s so ridiculous to witness minority groups mistreat their own while kissing up to those in positions of power rather than respecting and treating everyone like equals, kind of like how you want to be treated. People still act like Mister in the color purple going to the court house-even today.

      Even today African Americans need a green book in the south because regardless of education, presentation, intelligence-people will ensure you stay in your place in some way or another. Don’t forget to say thank you and kiss up so you can pay your money for services. It’s not just one group against another because the southern way of most cultures is to stay in your place, don’t ask any questions because questions mean you are questioning someone’s authority, and stay with your cultural group. Segregation in social circles and even restaurants are practiced today. Group think reigns supreme. Nothing has changed.

    • Right Black profile image

      Right Black 7 years ago from Huntington Beach, California

      Excellent hub, while racism is on the decline we must be vigilant. If things have improved in South Carolina the home of secession then we will overcome.

    • i scribble profile image

      i scribble 7 years ago

      Thanks for telling it like it is-and was. A couple of years ago I was tutoring a group of kids in a deep South city. A ten-year-old boy made a "joke" about beating up a black man. I told him racial remarks were unacceptable in the group. I can only speculate that this was the type of humor he learned at home. Glad you stood up to the racist bullies.