EAT DOWNTOWN! BREAKFAST AND LUNCH OPEN 7:30 AM ’til 4 PM Across from the Alamo National Bank 135 East Commerce, San Antonio 225-0231 THE POLITICIAN THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LYNDON JOHNSON The Drive for Power from the Frontier to Master of the Senate Bp 80119I6 DINKIER Send us $20 and we will send you an autographed copy of Ronnie Dugger’s acclaimed book on Lyndon Johnson. \(Postage included; Name Address City State Zip The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Austin, Texas 78701 . \\Al and Associates E 502 W. 15th Street Austin, Texas 78701 REALTOR” Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty 477-3651 Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 o Sytile the legendary RAW DEAL Steaks, Chops, Chicken open lunch and evenings 6th & Sabine, Austin No Reservations wandering around interviewing poor people, asking them what’s changed since the civil rights acts and the War on Poverty. The answer is: not a whole lot. The overt discrimination is gone, but economic discrimination is still oppressive: People have been too quick to speak of the New South. They have been influenced by the sight of a few black faces in elective office. But that is not power, only the illusion of power .. . Power in the South has not passed from white hands to black hands. Economics is still the greater controller. Economics is money is power is white. This is not, you will note, a very profound insight, and if all the book had to offer were these sorts of hackneyed not to waste your time reading it. But it has more. Fuller writes well about the people he meets, and he can make their sad and desperate lives painfully real. In tractable poverty, the hopelessness of job-seeking when there are no jobs, the degrading quality of the work available to those without skills, the despair of those who know that no matter how hard they work, they cannot get out of debt: these are abstractions until a writer like Fuller gives them human flesh by introducing us to the people who actually embody these abstractions. It would take a heart as cold as David Stockman’s not to be affected by what Chet Fuller found on his travels. And the New South? Oddly enough, Fuller did find one manifestation of it, though I suspect it will be another quarter of a century before any black person traveling through the region will be comfortable when he finds himself in the same situation. Fuller’s car breaks down one night and he trudges a mile to an open gas station for help. He sticks his head in the door and sees half a dozen “of the toughest-looking bunch of red necks this side of Billy Carter’s service station in Plains.” He remembers a castrated black man found floating in a river in south Georgia a couple of years earlier, but he still manages to ask for help with his car. One of the rednecks drives with him back to his car in the tow-truck and they head off to town in search of a mechanic. The redneck tries to make small talk, but Fuller is wary and ready to meet violence with violence, “pre pared to let loose the wildest ass-kicking display of battle this hick had ever seen.” The climax comes when they find the mechanic and he fixes the car, charges very little, laughs about how he could have cheated Fuller but didn’t, and offers Fuller a cigarette \(which Fuller misinterpreted the situation, how much his preconceived notions about these men \(his assumption that rednecks, given the slightest opportunity, would could have led him into a violent confrontation: During all the time they waited on me and fixed my car, I was terrified, because I knew the moment they made the slightest suspicious move I was going to start kicking and swinging. And it was all in my mind. Those people were nice to me, and all the while I was thinking horrible thoughts, my mind assigning them the worst possible intentions . . . But the truth is that even though I felt foolish for being afraid, and felt a deep sickness in the pit of my stomach because of the fear that had been inside me, I could have acted in no other way. Even in 1978 after the civil-rights movement, the black movement, voting rights; after all the things that were supposed to help remove the veil of ignorance and darkness from the South I still did not feel safe traveling alone in a car in my native region. And no black person I knew felt any safer. The day Chet Fuller can feel safe in his native region will be the day the New South is more than a slogan dreamed up by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. 111 Patrick Bishop is the editor of Criminal Law Monthly. COMPLETE PERSONAL & BUSINESS INSURANCE ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY 808-A E. 46th, Austin, Texas 459-6577 22 JULY 23, 1982
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