Pop Culture

Road Tripping To SXSW: Part Two

Why I love post-racial America

Why I love post-racial America

11:30-ishAM: One of the main differences I’ve noticed between people born and raised in the South and those who grew up in one of the Northern/Mid-Atlantic states is the amount of regional pride those in the South tend to have. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone,  but it just seems like people from the southern states are more likely to consider where they’re from as a part of them instead of just the place they happen/happened to live. (The only northern place where you see anywhere close to that type of thinking is The Consistently Overrated New York City.) It also seems to matriculate in all facets of life. For instance, I’ve yet to meet a person who went to school up north who was as dogmatic about attending Homecoming as many of the southerners I’ve met.

No other state exemplifies this mindset the way Texas seems to. As soon as you enter, you’re consistently reminded that this state is like no other state you’ve ever been to. For one, the speed limit jumps to 75mph, which basically means you can safety do 90 without really worrying about getting pulled over. (Seeing the 75 made me google the highest posted speed limit in the U.S. Naturally, this also exists in Texas, as a stretch outside of Austin allows you to go 85mph)

Also, Texas seems to be obsessed with using Texas as an adjective to describe everything. There’s the Texas BBQ. The Texas buffet. The Texas farmer’s market. The Texas-style car dealership. The Texas-style strip club. The exterminator with special spray to kill Texas-sized bugs. And, if this isn’t enough, if you ever forget exactly where you are, the ubiquity of the giant billboards that just say “TEXAS” will remind you.

6:45PM: We finally make it into Austin, passing Dallas, Waco, and approximately 57547843 car accidents on our way there. (Question: Does any small American town have a more randomly important recent history than Waco? Just in the last 20 years the Branch Davidians, the worst scandal in college basketball history, and the emergence of both RG3 and the most unique female athlete ever all took place there.)

We check in our hotel and likely would have slept for the next 12 or so hours if not for the fact that I had to walk 8 blocks downtown to pick up my registration badge. We also planned on attending a “welcome to Austin” party for all the Black people in town for SXSW that was starting at 7, so I showered up, ran out the door, and planned to meet the Gay Reindeer back at the hotel after I picked up my badge.

8:00PM: Before leaving for Austin, My homie Kaneisha—author of Be Your Own Boyfriend, Austin resident, and the person who organized my panel—stressed how important it was to create a clear schedule and itinerary because SXSW is so busy and sprawling that you’d drive yourself crazy without one. Naturally, I ignored her advice. And, after five minutes of walking around downtown, I wished I hadn’t. I’m not a person who gets overwhelmed by much. In fact, “whelmed to slightly underwhelmed” would be the best way to describe how I generally view things. But, the amount of people/events/noises/activities taking place was overwhelming. Not overwhelming in a bad way. The atmosphere practically punks you into having fun. It’s almost as if someone sprayed a 500,000 gallon can of liquid molly on the entire town. Still, I should have listened to Kaneisha.

8:30PM: Knowing that the party ends at 9 and I still needed to walk seven blocks uphill to meet the Gay Reindeer back at the hotel and make our way to the party, I hire one of those bike rickshaw guys to give me a ride.

And, because this three part piece is likely going to be over 3,000 words long, I won’t say too much about the odd mixture of race-related feelings experienced when sitting in the back of a chariot drinking lemonade and enjoying the breeze while a sweating and grunting White man struggles to bike you uphill. I will say, though, that if this is what post-racial America looks like, sign me up!!!

8:50PM: The exchange between the Gay Reindeer and the rickshaw guy after we make it to the party:

GR: “Thanks. How much do we owe you?”

Bike Guy (BG): “Well, my normal rate is $10 per person.”

GR: “It says $5 on the back of your bike”

Bike Guy (BG): “That’s an old sign.”

GR: “Ok. 20 is fine.”

Bike Guy: “Well, since I gave you all a ride all the way from downtown, I was thinking 40.”

GR: “$40? For 15 minutes of work?”

Bike Guy: “Yeah, but I’m really sweating a lot”

GR: “Here’s $25. Thanks again!”

Obviously, the bike guy assumed he could guilt us into giving him $40. The bike guy obviously never met the Gay Reindeer.

9:15PM: With my jeans, t-shirt, and boots, I felt overdressed among the throngs of anxious hipsters near the convention center. But, as I entered the Black party, I immediately felt underdressed. Bougie Black People love to overdress in Texas too, apparently. Some things never change.

While there, I scan the crowd for familiar faces, and end up running into the homie Slim Jackson and the always entertaining Luvvie, who teases me about finally leaving Pittsburgh. There’s another woman with them whose face I recognize but I can’t quite make out where I know her from. After hearing her voice it hits me: it’s Franchesca Ramsey, from “Shit White Girls Say…to Black Girls.” Fun and shit.

Also, this party was the first example of what would be a recurring theme during the weekend. It took place maybe 10 blocks or so away from downtown, and most of the “Black” events that weekend were isolated in a similar fashion. Even our panels all took place on one floor in the BiT house, three blocks away from the convention center.

Damn you, post racial America! Damn you!

11PM Friday: After leaving the party, the Gay Reindeer and I eventually meet up with Kaneisha, Arielle Loren, and a few others at a rooftop bar downtown. While there, Kaneisha attempts to give me some directions about where our panel would be taking place the next morning and when to show up. Naturally, I ignore her (again), which didn’t seem to be a big deal, until…

11:22AM Saturday: I’m on the 18th floor of the Hilton. Our panel is supposed to be taking place here in 8 minutes. But, as I get off the elevator, I don’t see anyone. Confused, I call Kaneisha.

“Hey, where is everybody?”


“Where is everybody?

“We’re all here. Waiting for you”

“I’m on the 18th floor of the Hilton. I don’t see anybody.”

“That’s strange. There should be people greeting you as soon as you get off the elevator.”


“Damon, I think you’re in the wrong hotel.”


“Yeah, I think you’re at the main Hilton. The BiT house is at the Hilton Garden Inn down the street.”


“Well, we’re starting in 8 minutes, so…”

***Part 3 coming tomorrow***

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) 

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

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  • A Woman’s Eyes

    I love how you tell a story! Run! Be on time! :)

    • oh, i ran. now, was I on time? hmmm…

      • Aly

        No? Yes? SO MUCH SUSPENSE!!

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        with baited breath, i wait for tomorrow’s story

  • You are correct…We be on that Texas hard! Negros love to overdress for things here too, much like ATL and NO…I think it is a southern thang.

    • nah. overdressing is an everywhere black people happen to be thing

  • IcePrincess3

    *yells* Tx10inch! Get over here, they talkn bout ya state!!

  • Champ if you had let me know you were at SXSW virgin. I would informed you on the in and outs. At least now you know

    • Yeah, like every woman hopes after she has sex for the first time, the next time should be better.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        how you know that? :)

      • Sweet GA Brown

        Whats wrong with the second chance theory?

  • IcePrincess3

    How many miles did he ride yall? That would’ve let you kno what was a fair price, compared to a cab. It’s roughly $2 per mile plus a small fee for an extra person.

    • Maybe one mile. maybe

      • IcePrincess3

        Oh hellllllllll no! That’s highway robbery! Guess not much has changed since the wild wild west.

        • Dignan

          How the conversation would have gone if I were involved:

          “Your sign says $5 per person.”

          “That’s an old sign.”

          “Here’s $10. I’ll pay you more when you get a new sign.”

  • Wild Cougar

    *sings* ,(Lyle Lovett voice)
    THAT’S RIGHT, you’re not from Texas!
    That’s right, you’re not from Texas
    That’s right you’re not from Texas


  • Medium Meech

    This may be the most blog like series of posts I’ve ever read from you. A couple of things though…

    1) We don’t consider Texas the south. Kind of how Pittsburgh is a cultural slut for Western PA, the midwest (more specifically the subspecies Cincinatticus)., the North East, the south and whatever West Virginia is, Texas is for the southwest, Mexico, the midwest, the wild west and whatever region of Texas you happen to be in. We don’t even play football with Texas, save this new A&M thing and that still doesn’t feel right.

    2) Are we going to get the hookup lowdown? You’re wifed up so no fear of reciprocity. It can be like that sex stroy they did for the Olympic village. You don’t have to use names.

    • miss t-lee

      “Texas is for the southwest”
      “We don’t consider Texas the south.”


      • Medium Meech

        Are you saying you agree or that Texas is the South?

        • miss t-lee

          Texas is very much the South.
          The end. :)

      • mena

        Texas is not the south. The south stops at Louisiana, goes up to Tennessee and Kentucky and stops right before you hit the DMV down to Florida.

        Now technically the south stops at the border of MD and Pennslyvannia but MD and northern VA haven’t been the south in a LONG minute.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah…won’t really be arguing this point. So we’ll be at an impasse.
          Any state that was formerly in the Confederacy is pretty much the South.
          Have a great day.

          • A Woman’s Eyes

            Yep, yep! I agree! Any state where Black people used to be enslaved, is a part of the South.

            • Michael Dean Miller

              Lots of Northern states had slaves but are nowhere near being in The South.
              In fact the only reason the War To Prevent Northern Agression started in 1861 instead of 1841 was because the Northern states needed another 20 years to sell off their own slaves before they could huff and puff in righteous indignation against the sins of slavery.

              • A Woman’s Eyes

                Hi! :)

              • Medium Meech

                War of Northern aggression…lol.

              • ‘L’

                +1, the emancipation proclamation only freed the slaves n the south, actually the confederacy, which is a real gangsta move on abe’s part since they had seceded, he had no authority 2 do so.

        • Brian

          Texas isn’t considered the South? Everyone else who lives here will be surprised when I deliver the news.

          • mena

            Only Texans must consider themselves to be southern. Everyone else thinks of them as texans. LOL! It’s like a different region of the US.

            • MissB

              As a proud TEXAN now living in the sorry ace state of florida…

              Texans believe TEXAS=THESOUTH. I always hate when people from other states claim otherwise. Now anything west of Texas along the coast is officially outside the boundary of “the south”.

          • iamnotakata


    • I’ve heard people say Austin and Dallas aren’t the South. I’ve spent plenty of time in Houston, and they view north Texas as ‘the North’

      • iamnotakata

        I’m from Austin & have lived in Houston for 7 years and have never heard this…..this must be some Northern urban myth. As far as I know folks from Texas consider it the South and Dallas Northern? Never! Have you heard them speak blasphemy…

        • miss t-lee

          I also, have never, ever heard this. I’m native Texan, born, raised, and still here.

    • iamnotakata

      This is news to me..Last I checked Texas is big time south. Specifically know for producing the retarded cowboy President Bush W. If Texas aint south I don’t know what is? Have you ever been to Leander, TX, or any small town around Texas? The klan is alive and well in Vidor, TX…

      • Medium Meech

        You guys have interesting criteria for southern. Racism and ignorance are not sufficient or every non-urban part of America would be southern. The Lone star state has always kind of done its own thing.

    • nillalatte

      Who da hail is ‘we’ Meechie? smdh. There is Texas and then there is West Texas. It’s all pretty much considered the South. In TN, we have East, West and Middle TN, but we’re all definitely South. And, to think…. smdh….


      • nillalatte
      • Medium Meech

        It just isn’t. Doesn’t have that common cultural link with the rest of the south. The Spanish origin and influence. Definitely not the old sough like Virginia. Cotton slavery didn’t drive the economy so there wasn’t the plantation aristocracy mentality. San Antonio, El Paso? It has it’s own distinct and separate cultural lineage from the south.

        • miss t-lee

          “Cotton slavery didn’t drive the economy so there wasn’t the plantation aristocracy mentality.”

          Ask my grandparents and parents who both participated in said cotton economy for quite a time. I’ll think you’ll change your mind on that point.

  • Micthemessenger

    Welp, I don’t know when ya’ll headed back but if y’all find yourselves passing through Dallas Saturday, DEFINITELY hit up the St. Patrick’s day parade on Greenville St. Scores of drunk people and fun, and we’re throwing a house party!

    • MzPk7

      Snoop Lion (Dog) whatever is supposed to perform right? Maybe I should get out of the house and explore Dallas more.

  • IcePrincess3

    Hurry up & get to the part where you drank yourself so sick, you couldn’t write for 2 days :-)

    • nillalatte

      BOL! I was wondering when Ice would chime in on the obvious! LOL

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