Jeff Switt, Contestant #13, in one hundred words

Strom Thurmond....black was the color of his true love's hair

Black is the color of my true love’s hair

“and the dealers got ya thinking, that it’s either black or white. Thank god, it’s not that simple in my secret life.” (Leonard Cohen)

Literati

So what is the poster boy for segregation, Strom Thurmond, doing here?

I will explain. As the Senate’s longest serving member, Strom Thurmond made every effort to prevent “the mongrelization of the Nation,” including crafting legislation making marriage and even co-habitation of mixed races a punishable crime.

And yet, he fathered a child with black teenager when they were both quite young. Rather than disavow his daughter,  he supported her financially and saw that she was well educated and raised to be a competent, independent adult. Is it not reasonable to think that he felt affection for his child, and for her mother?  He was punished by his own ideology, which prevented both those relationships from reaching their full potential.  He became his own victim, inflicting the same punishment upon himself that he inflicted upon the nation.

We now have an entry that implies a similarity: are we still not free to chose who to befriend, or even, who to love?

While many of us struggle to limit ourselves to 500 words, the parameter of our contest, Jeff Switt has managed his entire response with a beginning, middle and an end in just 100 words.  Bravo!

Either. Or. Neither. Noir

by Jeff Switt

The other side of the tracks. That’s where the Negroes lived. “I catch you over there and I’ll whip your ass,” my mother would warn me. Every day I would stand as close as I could to those tracks. One Thursday a black girl my age walked toward me, her head braided with a tightness of rope, pig tails tied off with red ribbon.

“My name is Louise,” she said to me. “What’s yours?”

“Billy,” I replied.

“Better not come over here, Billy.”

I walked across those tracks toward her, reached out my hand, and touched her face. She smiled.

for those of you interested in learning more:

http://www.pulitzer.org/article/paragon-jim-crow-south-kept-little-secret

7 comments

  1. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    This concisely framed, quite literal touching story of 100 words mixing harsh, cautious, daring & tenderness, with a true flash fiction’s flash ending satisfied me as a reader & as a repressed romantic wishing someone would dare so much for me. Thank you.

  2. Miryam Howard says:

    Brilliant Mr. Switt.
    Overflowing with symbolic references, yet doesn’t appear deliberate….
    Really appreciate this piece!

  3. Michael Stang says:

    For such a little thing, this pebble makes quite the splash. But then again I suspect the author behind the pen is no stranger to ripples. Good to read more from Mr. Switt.

  4. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    The article by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Colbert I. King is very germane as a supplement to reading Mr. Switt’s story. Nina Simone’s performance is immortal & on point, excellent. Please read the article & become a fan of Nina Simone if you are not already. I also want to mention the Supreme Court Case in 1967 of Loving v. Virginia as an additional thought. That case decision legitimised Interracial Marriages formally opposed as abominations through violence towards mixed couples & social punishments. This law change did not stop the violence, but demanded by law that marriage licenses be issued to brave, interracial couples.

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