Black people have faced a number of racist laws and discriminatory treatments from fellow Americans over the decades. While many White supremacy ideals didn’t die with the times, it’s much more common for people to be called out on their racist ways in today’s day and age. Something that did unfortunately survive though (in abundance might I add) is something called a sundown town.
If you watched the first episode of the HBO show “Lovecraft Country” the words “sundown town” may sound familiar to you, but I had never heard that term until I came across a TicTok post by the user “Colt_mccannon,” and I was shocked at what I heard. Further research has proven to me just how alive and well racism is today.
Well, what is it? A sundown town is most simply described as a town that practices a form of segregation against Black people. The inhabitants will welcome or tolerate Black people in the neighborhoods and town while the sun is up, but prosecute them if they are still there after sundown. While this seems very regressive (and it is), these areas are still alive and well today and if you’re Black, or any form of POC (because I assume the only thing White racist don’t discriminate against is who their racist to) you should know how to check for a sundown town while traveling.
— Heather B (@Iheardthisonce) September 1, 2020
Not too shockingly, these dangerous areas are more known, researched, and placed in the south but that doesn’t mean they’re exclusively there. To take the first step in finding out what towns are suspected to be sundown towns, you can check out this website, sundown.toungaloo.edu, that lists possible sundown towns in different areas.
If you have time to commit to conducting your own extensive research, then there are some steps that you can take for that as well. The first one is to research the town you’re looking to visit or pass through. According to sundown.toungaloo.edu, you can properly do this by following the website’s advice: “Look up the census information on racial composition in various years. Data at census.gov provide the racial proportions of every town in the country with more than a few hundred inhabitants for 1990 and 2000. Included is information as to age and sex in the Black population and the number of households with Black adult householders. This information is particularly useful because it allows us to avoid misattributing residential status to African Americans living in institutions such as colleges or prisons or within white households as servants.”
From your responses, I plotted them all onto a map: pic.twitter.com/Geys1NwV5S
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) August 18, 2020
Just to be cautious, you can study the local history and newspapers, preferably online, of the areas you plan to pass through. You can also take note of the area’s oral history (though if you’re a POC I wouldn’t suggest doing this one).
Social media has been buzzing about this topic, and for good reason. Unfortunately, the world isn’t completely safe for us yet, and though I hope to see that day come to fruition, it’s not today. Places like sundown towns and people like White supremacist still live and thrive around others like themselves to this day and it’s important to take precautions against encountering them.
Make sure you’re traveling safe!
By Kendal Amos, Sophomore, Little Black Pearl