Just came back from the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in Atlanta, 24,000 scientists eager to provide a Keynesian infusion of capital into the travel and tourist industry. Seriously though, it is quite an educational affair.
One interesting anecdote. In downtown Atlanta, the hotel and service industry is African American, to a person. One thing’s for sure, they are American citizens and know English. I was genuinely surprised when I heard the maid say, “Housekeeping!” without an hispanic accent.
At the convention center I had breakfast with a Trinidaddian colleague who has stylish dreads and a carribean accent. We walked into the restaurant and the waitress sits him down at a table. I made like I was going to sit across from him, and the waitress said, “You sit over here” and directed me to a separate table. I hadn’t had coffee yet, so I complied, for about 30 seconds.
When it dawned on me how stupid I was I moved back. The waitress’ eyes got big and she was about to warn me. Pre-emptively, I told her, “No, I’m with him, it’s ok”.
We all laughed about it, but it illustrates the old reflex to segregate that persists throughout the south.