White mob before breaking into the US Capitol on January 6th, 2020.

Twelve years ago, I packed up a Uhaul and left the home my son was born in. I drove across the country with him in a car seat, singing hours of nursery rhymes to keep him entertained.

I loved that house — a big, collapsing, and beautiful Victorian farmhouse that my friends and I had sunk years of work into to make it a home. I loved that neighborhood; sweet neighbors who would holler at me to join them on their porch or come over late on New Year’s Eve with Jello shots and gossip. I loved that city —…


Past Is Prologue

Hundreds of years from now, how will the story of this time in the United States be told?

Photo: ksunderman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As a kid, road trips were marked by dog slobber and historical markers.

We had an ’83 Jeep Cherokee with no heat and no air conditioning. The winters were fine in that car, but the summers were pure hell. Oberon, our Great Dane, would lean his massive head over my shoulder, his drool sliding in long shimmering strings down the back of the seat, pooling by my legs, and sticking my thighs to the vinyl.

We lived in the country, and I spent my elementary school years carsick as we drove up and down mountain roads, gravel spitting out from…


The Kanawha in Charleston. Photo by author.

I woke up in a tent on the ridge above Cat Gut on the shortest day of the longest year and shook the morning rain off the fly. My car was parked in a friend’s yard, his house looking like it could slide into the creek, and I nodded to old man chopping wood before kicking my boots and getting in the driver’s seat. He stared at me and spat.

In Charleston, I stopped for hot coffee and walked towards the Kanawha to see the barges. A woman screamed at a man outside the courthouse; not the stately sandstone courthouse…


Past Is Prologue

Working-class white people in the South have better stories to tell than the Lost Cause

Woman in Graham, North Carolina counter-protesting a Black Lives Matter march this past July. Photo by author.

I think she is trying to stare me down. Her eyes are leveled right at me.

In another space, at another time, we might be friendly. We might chat. I might say, “Excuse me, ma’am, my apologies,” as I bumped into her on my way to pay my bill at the diner. And she might smile at me and say, “No problem, hon.” She might comment on my tattoo, and I might tell her I like hers. Maybe she has a butterfly that makes her think of her mother or a bit of script reminding her to be strong. She…


Working and poor folks are alone in this one. It’s time to build power.

“PPE for Philly Sanitation workers” by joepiette2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Our house was way up the side of a mountain and the road that led to it was rutted and potholed. I was small for eight and I could barely see out the backseat window, which was smeared from the dog’s nose. Mountain roads might be the stuff of folk songs, but the truth is they are scary: Deep ravines plummet down with only what seems like inches to spare, loose rocks gather on their edges. …


The local sheriff stands with deputies guarding the Confederate Memorial in Graham, NC, despite no protests.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, a lawman for the ages, tirelessly guards the Confederate statue in Graham basically day and night with his deputies, assigning sometimes dozens of his deputies to the courthouse detail, threat or no threat, like a true patriot.

It’s Sunday night and there are maybe a dozen people on the square, most eating frozen custard. My son has chosen a root beer float, and I have had him turn his Black Lives Matter shirt inside out because, well, it’s hard to say how things will shake down in Graham. …


Children, parenting, and sending them in the right direction.

“Turtle Aug 2014 (1)” by Pam_Broviak is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“I want to go to Germany,” you say as we flip through the pages of National Geographic, laying on the front porch together, your red popsicle dripping onto the pages.

“Where is this?” you ask, grimy finger pressed against the wall map, pointing to Alaska. You say you want to see mountains that have snow on top.

“I want to go to a place with prairie dogs!” you laugh, snorting and covering your nose so the chocolate milk doesn’t come out. You watch the silly little bandits ganging up on a…


This Is Us

For starters, it’s Blacker and gayer than you could ever imagine

People dancing in summer clothing in the streets of a small town, one wearing an elaborate yellow dress.
People dancing in summer clothing in the streets of a small town, one wearing an elaborate yellow dress.
Mz. Gizelle performing in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the author.

My South is singing to Dolly Parton through a mouthful of elotes and trap music at a Low Country boil.

My South is weedy grass growing up through the curb, a “We Buy Houses” sign stapled to a telephone pole, collard greens grown in empty lots, and a grandpa whose story is going to take all day.

My South is the mangonada truck parked at the top of the riverbank, children emptying the change out of their pockets, tamarind sticky fingers, shoes left tangled in the roots of the trees, and a rope swing plunging them into the muddy water.


“Spring — The Plateau” by planetirony is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

That winter was a long winter, the winter when I was 27 and would strap my baby to my back before pulling on my boots. That winter when each night I would lean deep into the truck’s engine, flashlight between my teeth, to unbolt the battery, the metal of the socket wrench sticking to my fingertips, cold. …


How Covid19 is exposing the failures of policy.

“Cashier” by Midnight Believer is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

I remember sitting on the edge of a creek watching my son pick up stones with his small, chubby hands and stack them in a row. His pebbles and stones grew taller and, to his delight, began to divert the water. He piled and piled the rocks, trying to pool the water behind them deep enough to sit in. He walked across a clearing and filled his pockets with more rocks and his dam grew taller — but no matter how tall he made it, water still seeped through. He became frustrated. “It won’t stop coming, Mama.” He looked up…

Gwen Frisbie-Fulton

Mother. Southerner. Storyteller. Bread and Roses. #race #class #poverty #gender #equity #children #egalitarianorganizing #bottomupstorytelling *views my own*

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