By Jesmyn Ward in Time
When people ask me why I returned home to Mississippi after years of living in the West, the East and the Midwest, I simply say this: I moved home because I love the beauty of the place, and I love the people. But this is a toothless answer, as weak and harmless as a baby’s mouth.
It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so. In the early 1800s, there were more millionaires in Mississippi than anywhere else in the country, and all these white men were made rich by cotton, by slavery. Their fields were notorious for their brutality and their productivity.