Black Travel Questions | What’s It Like Living Among Republican Retirees?

When I first considered RVing, a lot of people warned me I would dislike it because of the lack of diversity. They were right, but not for the reasons they originally supposed. I don’t care whether I see another Black face at a campground or not. I find what I miss most is being around young people.

Younger people are statistically more likely to hold liberals views. In contrast, not only are retirees statistically likely to lean Conservative, but they believe they are too old and wise to learn from us young folks. I encounter this all the time and have learned to leave them to their ignorance.

This ignorance sometimes walks a thin line between mere ignorance and being racist, xenophobic or some other descriptor based on hate. In fact, I can sum up what it’s like to live among Republican retirees in one sentence:

I knew about the Capitol Insurrection before it happened.

They are miserable.

When I get to a campground, I can almost immediately spot the Conservatives and the Liberals, based purely on their facial expressions and general openness. The liberal retirees are more positive, more friendly and more welcoming. They also tend to take better care of their belongings, seem financially better off, and have higher education levels. Republican retirees have a sterner countenance and are generally not as open. Many of them are nice, but there is always something stiffer and more awkward about their social behaviours.

Negativity controls their lives.

This miserable look on their faces may come from the fact that they are among the most negative people I have ever known. I met some lovely and well-meaning Conservatives on the road, but I have met no exceptions to this. Republicans are extremely negative and make decisions based on what they hate and what they believe should be restricted. Democrats, on the other hand, make decisions based on who or what they love and push for more openness.

For example, Liberals tell me they voted for basic decency, human rights and social equity. Here are some of the reasons Republicans have given me for voting for the Orange Man in the White House:

  • I fear what will happen if we don’t take our country back.
  • I fear the possibility of criminal immigrants coming into our country.
  • I hate abortions; women shouldn’t be allowed to have any.
  • I hate taxes and Biden is going to make me pay more taxes.
  • Men should only be with women and vice versa.

Most are either racist or racially ignorant

I am often appalled by the things that come out of White Conservatives’ mouths when they discuss race in America. They genuinely do not understand what racism is, but you can’t tell them what it is either, because they are old and know everything. Ask them to explain racism and you will either laugh or want to punch them in the face.

I heard some of the most disturbing remarks from an elderly White couple raising a Black teenage boy in Arizona. They acknowledged racism existed, but could not seem to understand what it was or why it was concerning far beyond interactions with the police. So far, I have met only one White Conservative who had a great grasp of racism and was genuinely eager to learn more.

Most grew up in diverse neighbourhoods.

We have this idea in our heads that Conservatives grow up in the middle of nowhere and never see Black people, so that contributes to their racism. Cure yourself of this notion. The most racially ignorant and racist White people I have ever met in America are exactly the ones raised in diverse communities.

They brag about how close they were with Blacks, Natives and Hispanics, when growing up, and how welcomed they were by the community. All while still trying to convince you they understand what racism is because they felt uncomfortable, in spite of the warm welcome. For the record, every White racist I know has Black friends or even Black spouses.

They try to fix racism by fixing you.

When I first shared my Arizona experiences with a Conservative friend of mine, she was horrified. Once I had cleared the threat and high-tailed it to California, she changed tactics. Instead of trying to fix racism within her political circle, she tried to fix my response to racism.

She said, “Has it ever occured to you that maybe people look at you like that because you’re beautiful and they don’t know what to say?” She repeated this to me daily. One day I snapped and asked her if she thought I just got my face yesterday. I told her I’ve had it for 31 years and had worn it in six countries and 30 states. Yet, I never had those experiences in Arizona, until Arizona.

They give lots of backhanded compliments.

When the vaccine first came out, one Conservative told me excitedly that the first woman to receive it was Jamaican. She said she could tell right off the back that the woman was not American because her English was very formal and proper. “She sounds like you!” she said. “You know, there’s a big difference between how educated and uneducated Black people sound. Uneducated Black people sound like a text message that didn’t send correctly. But, not you guys!”

On a serious note, do prejudiced White people know how they sound when they, too, are uneducated — or nah? I met plenty of them in Arizona. Why is this considered something exclusive to Black people?

They are opportunists.

The White Conservatives at my campgrounds are extremely helpful, but many are also users. They talk a lot of crap about people in the park, especially Californians and Liberals, until they need favours from that person. Many also agree that the Orange Man is an a**hole and an idiot, but then they always follow up this admission by talking about the economy.

Similarly, almost all the Conservatives who voted blue and all the Liberals I met in Arizona who voted Democrat did so because they wanted free healthcare and weed. From a values perspective, they were very much still Republican. They just wanted to do drugs in peace. Likewise, an alliance with the police was convenient when they wanted to be racist, but “Blue Lives” became as disposable as Black ones when they stood in their way at the Capitol.

They have no community values.

Conservatives talk a lot about family values and church fellowship. Considering that so many of them belong to small, tight-knit communities, I expected stronger community values. The pandemic and my personal experience among them showcase the opposite. I have never met a group of people so proud to put individual rights and personal freedoms above community values and public health.

One posted on Instagram that the pandemic was a hoax because “only 73,000” more people had died in 2020 compared to 2019, at the time of his post.

Only 73,000.
Let that sink in.
Would 73,001 have made a difference?

The cognitive dissonance is high.

One Conservative asked me why Black people overwhelmingly vote Democratic. I told her it’s because Republicans are overwhelmingly racist. She took personal offense to this and proceeded to make a case for her colleagues and herself. I replied:

Not all Repulicans are racist, but racists flock to the Republican party. At what point are you going to stop and ask yourself, why? Tell me, when was the last time you saw a Democrat with a Confederate Flag or a Nazi tattoo.

She has yet to answer this. I won’t hold my breath.

They love their guns.

A staunch Trump supporter at the last campground I stayed at once ended a one-sided political rant by telling me, “I don’t debate politics with unarmed persons” and storming off to his RV, like a teenager. This all stemmed from me asking him how he spent the holidays. He proceeded to tell me how he spent Christmas stocking up for the Second Civil War and assisting a group in Nevada. Two days later, the Capitol Insurrection occured. I packed my things and left the campground by the end of the week. I have no desire to be parked across from terrorists.

Republicans are not all villains. After all, Republicans helped me get out of Arizona when I was having a Cold War with the Confederacy. I have also had a Trump Supporter rush outside in the middle of a winter storm to help me secure my RV in high winds. In fact, outside of Arizona, most of them have tried to be courteous and kind — especially when they wanted Black votes. Even so, one cannot be Republican without giving a pass to racism in one form or another.

Funny enough, I started this adventure looking forward to meeting Republican retirees. I was eager to hear their thoughts and have meaningful discourse about our political differences. I thought these people would be more level-headed and mature. Boy, was I wrong! Turns out, when it comes to race and racism, 90% of Republicans are exactly like their stereotypes —and worse.

May I never live to be this bitter.
This hateful.
Or to see myself become a parody of my own beliefs.

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34 thoughts on “Black Travel Questions | What’s It Like Living Among Republican Retirees?

  1. Man Alexis, sometimes I wish you would come back home where the main social ills are “uptown vs. downtown” but that would be clipping your wings, wouldn’t it? Stay safe and continue to avoid those nasty old conservatives. Like you said, they are stuck in their ways and you’d go blue in the face trying to get them to see life differently. It’s pretty sad that these centuries-old issues are still at the forefront of American society in 2021!

    1. I love being in America, but the people suck. A good half of them. Namely the people who voted for the Orange Man. The first time around, maybe you can give them a pass and say they didn’t know what he would really do. But vote for him a second time?? Nah…..

      I left Jamaica because of the crime and violence. America has its ills, but I feel safer here. I can walk around with my phone anywhere, boondock in the middle of nowhere and don’t feel the need to hide that I’m a woman traveling alone. Can’t do those things in Jamaica!

      When Jamaica fixes its crime problem, I’ll be coming right back, though. I have property there with a river and everything. Would love to build a tiny home there for me and Shadow. 🙃

      1. I guess it depends on where in America because I don’t hear that from my relatives in some parts of New York. I hear pickpocketing etc occurs quite a bit, but it’s certainly more tailored to solo female travel. Plus there are a lot more opportunities for school, scholarships, jobs and earning better wages too. But hey, if this crime rate ever gets under control and that house gets built, I’m inviting myself to the house warming 😁

      2. Big cities are always going to be problematic, anywhere in the world. But I’ve been to 30 states and felt safe in every one of them. Even in AZ, aside from the racism, I didn’t fear for my physical safety. Mom and I used to go for walks in the ATL hoods after midnight and we felt just fine.

        I think Jamaica needs to address the economy and then maybe crime will fall. Unemployment creates too many idle hands and underemployment can be even worse. I think it will happen, just not sure when.

        You’re definitely invited to my tiny house, whether it’s in the desert, on the island or both. 🙃

      3. You’re quite right. Our economy and the crime go hand in hand. There are so many educated people and bright minds sitting at home broke, in debt and jobless so crime will always seem appealing. That and when you work so hard and get little in return, then see things come so easy for others due to corruption/links, that’s a next part of the problem. We’re in quite a sticky situation.

      4. Yup, and that’s why we leave. If Jamaica was wise, it would do a better job of exporting labour so it can capitalize on it. There are so many trained professionals who would love to go abroad. Jamaica needs to broker deals with countries that need them. It could even take a small cut of the salary for the first year or 2 in payment. After that, the person is on their own. But ……our politicians doh have no sense half the time.

      5. Exactly! After working in a public hospital for 18 months, I must say.. I’m surprised we have any nurses in the country at all. They work really long rough shifts (as much as 16hours long), execute the plan that we the doctors write in the dockets (although to be honest, doctors have to turn around and do the nurses’ job a LOT because of inadequate/demotivated nursing staff) AND then make less than $100K a month? With a college degree???

        And while professional groups bargain for wage increases every few years, and I still believe the government can pay a bit better or even provide doctors with pension (but that’s another story),, I still don’t believe Jamaica will ever be able to compete with the wages of first world countries. Thus, rather than fight a losing battle of trying to retain skilled workers, I’ve long held the opinion too that the government should just tap into the export of labour market. But like you say, no one is thinking! ugh!

      6. Agreed on all of that! The situation in America is similar with a twist. We have a shortage of doctors but enough nurses.

        Brogad Anju needs to have a word with Cuba. They mastered exporting labour. He can learn a few lessons there.

        Can you imagine if we also sold athletes to countries? Who WOULDN’T want Jamaican runners on their teams?

        Jamaica a play wid di money. Our leaders need to work on their creativity and stop trying to be like everyone else.

  2. Some interesting but unfortunate experiences you have had. Good thing you can easily move when things go bad! There are a few people down here in New Zealand who support Trump surprisingly, one of them was even a friend who I used to live with. I didn’t know back then though. These people seemed mostly OK as long as you avoided talking politics. Although they seem to love their conspiracy theories.

    1. Definitely a good thing that I can move out of bad situations. This guy was one of those who had to lead every conversation with politics and Trump. I knew he was a Trump supporter the day we met and the whole Second Civil War conversation started because I asked him how he spent his Christmas break. Maybe you have the saner ones over there!

      1. I’m not sure if I could call any Trump Supporter “sane” now. I could understand why people may have voted for him initially but not now. Does it worry you when people talk about a “second civil war” over there?

      2. I’m in California. We have the two largest marine bases here and I’ve positioned myself between both. My parents live within 2 minutes of an army base. My dad always told me, when sh!t hits the fan in America, be near a military base. The military doesn’t answer to rebels, even when the police officers do.

        That said, no, I’m not afraid of them. They are spineless fools. Wearing lashes to their Civil Wars, arriving by private jet, and complaining about not getting all organic food in prison. These people are not fit for war. They are fit only for a psychiatric ward.

    1. Thank you! One lady is always in the comments crying about being pigeonholed. Imagine being more concerned about her reputation than the fact that I spent 4 weeks next to Confederates and 5 weeks living across from someone who helped plan the Capitol insurrection. She confirms what I already said in the post: they are self-serving.

  3. I’m sorry you had encountered such awful people during your travels. I’ve come across many Republican retirees who are like this, although I’ll also say that not every one of them is like this. At least the ones who are more moderate-leaning. I think the reason why the older generation tend to be/vote Republican is because life wears you down, the more people you meet and let you down become more apparent, and after being let down countless times by those close to them and the government, I can see why they would start forming preconceived notions about particular races, ethnicities, and those of a particular status. In other words, they are jaded. Liberals tend to be younger, yes, but also more-naive: I was like this a couple of years back, thinking that optimism and hard work could change the world. But life isn’t like this, and I learned that you can only but change yourself, while making a small dent on the bigger picture. Not to say that I sympathize with the Republic retirees (i.e. their cantankerous rudeness and racism aren’t excusable), but I see where they are coming from. Hopefully, you can avoid them from now on!

    1. I know jaded liberals. I wouldn’t describe Republicans as jaded. Jaded tends to stem more from an opinion of self and your personal role in the world unfolding.

      Their problem is the total opposite. Zero personal accountability, but plenty of pointing fingers at everyone else for their problems. Just look at how they’re responding to the Capitol incident. Their president can’t even apologise for his words. He has doubled down on saying his speech was excellent and there was nothing wrong with it. Meanwhile, Republicans are saying that’s not a reflection of their party, like the rebels were carrying Biden and Libertarian flags. They even tried to say it was ANTIFA and BLM because a Black BLM person attended the rally and was at the riot (alongside other civil rights members) to report and record it. I want to see accountability from the Republican party. I make no excuses for them.

      I’m sure I’ll continue to run into them, because I prefer rural areas and don’t plan to give that up. I’ll just have to find my way around the racial naivety, backhanded compliments and outright hostility. 😭

  4. Most of the people we met when RVing were nice, but in the beginning, we didn’t stay long enough to really get to know them. Our last experience took us into the heart of Trumpland and it was shocking. I heard the ‘n’ word, experienced dehumanizing talk when it came to ‘others’, and witnessed the gun culture first hand. I didn’t speak up at first – one Conservative we met warned me they have guns, so be careful what you say – but in the end had to speak. I said that I was afraid my life experience and values didn’t coincide. When one asked me to explain, she said, oh we don’t mind. My takeaway is that these people are well-meaning but so indocrinated they can’t see how damaging their ways are.

    1. Most of the people I’ve met so far try to be nice. But they are so awkward with handling race relations that I end up with conversations like the ones I shared in the post. These are still people who bring me free produce and ask if I need propane because they’re going in town.

      However, I’ve also met the deliberately awful ones who just want to intimidate. They want to hold power and they dislike the idea of competing with “lesser people” and losing. That was the guy parked across from me, who also used the N word while talking to me, and the Confederates in Arizona.

      I was also told they have guns and I should be careful, while in Arizona. But I am Jamaican. We are like Americans in the sense that you cannot tell us what to do and we will not cower in the face of a threat. The difference though is that we still have community values, so this is more about personal protection than “let’s not wear masks because we have rights” kinda mentality.

      How have you managed to avoid the crazies, so far? I like rural areas, so it seems to come with the territory for me.

      1. We like the rural areas too. Some of our travels involved meeting up with friends, which gave us an excuse not to mingle, but mostly (due to my illness) we kept to minimal contact. You are brave, as one commenter said, but at the same time, you need to be wary of danger.

      2. That makes sense. I’ve been keeping to myself where I am right now. I actually have friends here and have not told them I’m in the area. 😅

        I definitely try to be wary of danger. That’s why I cut my reservation short in Winterhaven. I was supposed to be there for 8 weeks and left in week 5. I also have RV security and everything I own has a tracker on it, including the cat, the car, the RV, my purse, my keys, etc etc 😅

  5. YOU are strong, brave, and beautiful and have a purpose in this world. People need to realize we all just as the saying goes “bleed the same”. Only when people stop spreading hate and intake that quote will they realize we are all not so different. Unfortunately hate is taught though people can change. One should be responsible for their own actions and in recent events THEY who caused unnecessary harm and rioted the Capitol should be held accountable no matter what race or religious views.

    1. Thank you, Sara!

      I agree with you about those people at the Capitol. The guy across from me was so very upset about race. I heard him use the N word myself, while talking to me. He also said f**k BLM and called Biden a “f**k head”. As you can imagine, he was quite eloquent, this one. Funny enough, he repeatedly tried to tell me he’s not racist.

      The great thing about being in an RV is that when I don’t like my neighbours, I can leave!

  6. Interesting observations. Stay safe out there. I contemplated RVing and simply traveling about, but decided I am just not a campground person and not mechanically-inclined enough to deal with stuff happening along the way. Congratulations on choosing this road adventure. Your blog is my opportunity to live vicariously on the road.

    1. Thank you! I try to stay as safe as possible. I just hate that two campgrounds in a row, I ran into White supremacists, and that both times, they were either parked across from me or next to me. I spent 4 weeks at one and 5 weeks at the other, so it was no passing interaction. These were long-term neighbours.

      As far as campgrounds, they’re not all very “campie”. Some of the ones I’ve stayed at are more like apartment complexes where you bring your own “apartment”. 😂

    1. This is why Black people are angry: having our experiences invalidated by White people who are obviously not Black and do not live our lives.

      How funny it is that you are more concerned about your reputation than the fact that I WAS LIVING ACROSS FROM ONE OF THE CAPITOL TERRORISTS or being harassed by Confederates in Arizona.

      These are MY experiences. Who are you to tell me otherwise? Were you there? Are you Black?

      Your priorities are questionable and I suggest that you, in fact, must be the one failing to take the right things seriously.

      Good day.

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