On a recent trip to the Texas coast, my boyfriend and I passed a cotton field. He actually pointed it out to me, asking “is that cotton?”.
I remember the first time I saw a cotton field. I was with my college roommate, driving in East Arkansas. I was so enchanted at these little “cotton balls” growing on plants. We pulled over so I could go pick some and feel it. I actually kept it in a vase in my room for years, it was so cool to me.
So I asked my boyfriend, a Black man from the South, if he’s ever felt raw cotton and he said that he has not. I now realize now that I was being (unintentionally) a bit tone deaf when I asked him if he wanted to pull over so we and our van-load of five teen boys could see cotton up close (and maybe pick a couple branches). My very understanding sweetie laughed and said “nope I’m good on that.” And something about 200 years.
I shared this story on Facebook and a friend posted this video of a young man telling his own story of “the most racist field trip ever.” He tells it well.