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Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:46 PM
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KB0679 KB0679 is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Washington, DC/rural SC
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Originally Posted by edale View Post
Anyone who's spent any time in both New Orleans and Charleston knows that there are huge differences in the vibes of each city, and a lot of that is tied to race. Despite having a large black population, Charleston feels very white-centric in its downtown/peninsula. It's preppy and really leans in to the whole Southern Gentry type of feeling. You don't see many black people walking around Downtown Charleston, and I'll never forget one of the first times I visited the city being shocked to see black people sitting in front of the former slave market making straw baskets and such. It feels really....backward. The city and region feels extremely conservative to me, and does not seem like a tolerant or accepting place.
Don't feel sorry for the Black basket-weavers; they are entrepreneurs and those baskets aren't at all cheap. The rolling joke among Black folks in SC is that they dress homely selling their wares but when it's time to go home, they drive off in their BMWs. But I always find it a bit amusing that folks are gallivanting about in a city literally built with wealth generated from the slave trade and generally don't have an issue seeing Blacks in low-wage service occupations, but it's the basket-weavers that are off-putting. Kinda reminds me of folks who get upset when they are told about slavery during plantation tours.

The city of Charleston itself (as well as North Charleston) isn't extremely conservative; Charleston County is reliably blue and relatively gay-friendly. The suburban counties are more conservative of course, as it is the South. For what it's worth, a Congressional seat in the region did unexpectedly flip from R to D in the midterm elections. And while he's nobody's liberal, one of the few Black U.S. Senators we have is from Charleston (Tim Scott).

It's true that Charleston's tourist economy is a bit more upscale than Savannah's and NOLA's and doesn't have a big nightlife element to it. It also lacks an HBCU and all of that results in a smaller Black presence in the historic downtown, but that will change somewhat with the opening of the International African American Museum which will essentially be Charleston's version of the NMAAHC in DC. Otherwise there are plenty of Black folks in the Charleston region living ordinary middle class lives, working at the Medical University of SC, Boeing, the port, or other large employers in the region. What you see in the historic downtown doesn't at all reflect what life is like on a daily basis for the average Charlestonian.
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