Menu

DAY 09

MALAISE IN LEXINGTON


Robbie introduces me to her friend David whom she defines as an “electropunk“.

He’s a bit special, but lets himself go with the flow. Behind him is a painting that he has flipped. Originally, it depicted a figure holding a crucifix in his hands. He paid an artist to remove the crucifix. He wears a satanic sign that metal fans are fond of.

During the afternoon Robbie shows me a vital source of income for Lexington: thoroughbred stables. Located just around the airport, people come here from as far as Saudi Arabia in private jets.

I rediscover sensations I had experienced in Fargo, another small town. Different people give me appointments several times in the same cafe.

I get to a rock bar where I’m trying to find good music a little too late. The tattooed waitress – large sized, doesn’t finish the cold potato salad she was devouring behind the bar and throws the rest away. Suddenly it feels like a sad little town. It could have been my hometown: Caen, with its single Arab workers in the harbour’s bars illuminated with neon…

The same malaise overpowers me. In most of the places I go to, the only black people I see are servers. This division is so mundane that no one even notices anymore.

In the cafe where I’m lost in these deep reflections, Elvis is playing on the radio his rendition of “Hound Dog”, the classic big Mama Thorton song. This is all too much. And I don’t like it.

I walk by a cemetery. Intrigued by an isolated banner. It is hung on the graveyard’s gate and invites to celebrate “Juneteenth”. I realize that this is a cemetery described as “African”. I learn that this is a historic cemetery, founded by an association of “people of color” in 1869, and “Juneteenth” is the oldest festival celebrating the abolition of slavery in the United States.

So my questioning is valid, the community does exists… just not here.

My next candidate is Lamin, a black and disabled young artist. We talk a little and he nuances my perception of things with regards to the permanence of segregation. Is he trying to embellish the reality to make it more digestible to me, or is it me who is sticking to my old clichés?

In the evening, I pass by small brick houses with tunnels that were reportedly used for the “Underground Railroad” (the famous escape network for slaves fleeing the South to the North). I hear that Lexington had one of the largest slave markets, up to 25 % of the population of the state was black at some point. Today, only the stables remain. But I also learn that there once used to be slave-breeding business…Robbie tells me that today Latinos have it worse than blacks, whom are now somewhat integrated.

I leave Lexington, anxious to find out what lies ahead. On to Nashville with their fringed cowboy shirts and all.

TANYA & CHRISTIAN


DAVID


LEXINGTON TO NASHVILLE