Letter Re: Advice on Relocation–A Reader Concerned About Local Racism

Mr. Rawles:
I’m a single mother of an 11-year-old living in rural Colorado, with good food and supply stores. I share a house with another single woman who owns it, in a duplex apartment. We have wood heat and national forest out back. We have no firearms. I have no family and I’m on disability, but I have a registered nurse license and keep it up. I honestly do have a very hard time working a job, but would if I had to and realize it may come to that. I have been disabled since a car accident in 2004.
My question is related to race. I’m black. I feel horribly isolated out here and sad all the time. Even church people are cold and distant. I’m afraid to go out and take a walk with my child as people have screamed and thrown things at us. And Colorado isn’t even as bad some other areas. If something happens fast versus a slow emergency and people panic, I think these people would easily seek to hurt my daughter unless we keep hidden.

I want to move to Atlanta (my child was born there and her father is there who would help also), where I could make friends, have Christian fellowship with real Christians, and have some support (emotional) from others and have a chance of doing normal things such as dating.

The problem with Atlanta, is not a worry about gang members, who are actually people too–and in a minority, they would be quickly put down by people such as the Muslims and regular folk if they decide to be aggressive to their own (unlikely other than to other criminals and drug users, and even more unlikely that they’d travel)–but if it is a SHTF situation I worry that areas such as that would simply be cordoned off without supplies and the people within them left to die. I see the average Americans quite capable of this sort of evil (I equate them to Germans in the 1930s and early 1940s) because they don’t seem to think of us as truly :”people” unless we are “exceptions” in their eyes. As a Christian, I think these very prideful, affluent and braggart-type people are the sorts who will be destroyed by the Lord, no matter where they live and how safe they’ve tried to make themselves, not the majority in the inner city as their wisdom has it. The meek will inherit the earth.

My question is whether I should trust in the Lord and move to Atlanta or stick it out in what is an adequate retreat in rural Colorado given my circumstances? Ideally, I would prefer to leave the country, but don’t have the resources to do that.

JWR Replies: Colorado probably won’t be good for you, unless you can join an established “retreat” group there. I am sorry to read that even church people you know are cold and distant. (I would pray that most Christian retreat groups are essentially color blind. They’d be happy to have a member that was of any race if they had years of practical experience as a nurse.)

The Memsahib Adds: Your neighborhood sounds horrible! Is it just one horrible person who screams and throws things? Or are most of your neighbors awful? Whether you stay or move, as a single person without family, black or white, you ought to have as your highest preparedness priority to develop a support group. This may not be a full blown survival group. But it could be people who you could count on if you got snowed in, or your car broke down, or you ran out of firewood. I think that rural people expect mutual aid in times of trouble. Although because of your accident you are not able to work full-time as a nurse, can you volunteer part time as a ministry? For instance could you volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, at a Vacation Bible School or Camp, or part time at a Christian school or daycare, as a nurse? This would be a way to serve the Lord and let the local community see your value as a nurse. If people in your community are made aware of your skills and training, race might become less of an issue. As for the ugly, ugly, ugly, individuals who don’t think of blacks as truly people, as you say, unless you are “exceptions” in their eyes, maybe they will see you as the exception, which will make you and your daughter safer. Perhaps in the course of volunteering you will develop friendships with the other volunteers. Helping others will help you with feelings of isolation and sadness. (But I have to say, I do think the church today is really failing in hospitality. For example, we have had people in our church say to us that they “would love to have over for a visit”, yet more than a full year has gone by before they set an actual date for the visit!) Another thought is: attend the Bible studies your church offers. When people get to know you as a person, maybe they will not see the color of your skin. It is really a shame that you have to work so hard just because your race. That isn’t the way it ought to be! But, I think this advice applies to any single person. The single person must work extra hard to immerse themselves into the community. You must go out of your way to attend all the community activities and do works of service for your neighbors and church members. Eventually they will start reciprocating. And maybe they will even come to rely on you for certain things. Bit by bit, you will become a part of their social network. And when things go bad they will feel compelled, out of their reciprocal relationship with you, to aid you in your time of trouble. God bless you and your daughter in your upcoming decision on relocation.

JWR Continues: If you do decide to move out of Colorado, then I’d recommend that you move to a more rural portion of the southeastern US than Atlanta! The city of Atlanta and its suburbs will likely be a war zone if and when bad times come. North Georgia is rural and has a lower population density than the communities around Atlanta, but it is already so impoverished that it might not do well in an economic depression. Rather, you should pick a more prosperous yet still agricultural area (preferably with mostly “truck farming”) and with a low population density, that is well away from urban sprawl. It should be well inland to be safe from hurricanes, but no in the primary Tornado Belt. (For example, western Tennessee would be a bad choice.) Just as important is finding a good church home–somewhere that you can be with like-minded folks, of any race.

One clue: Look for small towns (250 to 3,000 population) with one or more church that has a mixed race congregation. Those are the places where people will likely work together rather than divide along racial lines, in the event of a disaster.

Another clue: Look for churches with “Reformed” in their church name. They tend to have a high ratio of preparedness-minded individuals. (And usually sound doctrine, too!)

If you would consider relocating to join an existing retreat group that would value your skills as a nurse, then see the “Finding Others” static page at my site:

With current high food prices, truck farming areas are likely to do well in the next few years. You might consider some of the more rural counties in eastern Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, or perhaps north Alabama.

In your situation, since you are unarmed, you are probably best off joining a group where you can benefit from mutual security, and where you can put your medical skills good use with folks that will appreciate them and benefit from your knowledge and experience. Proceed with prayer!