Walk Like An American

A Sojourn in Alabama

Taking a Break to Work

Constantino Diaz-Duran is a fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University. He is chronicling his walk from New York to Los Angeles to celebrate his eligibility for American citizenship. Follow Constantino’s progress.

Well, it happened. I found the Deep South. I liked it-and SEC football-so much that I’ve decided to put the walk on hold for a while and stay in Alabama through Thanksgiving. I’m going to another game this Saturday, and the people I’m tailgating with are bringing grilled salmon and fried cornbread. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Actually, the real reason I’ve decided to stay is that I want to take a more in-depth look at life in the South. I’ve been offered a job in construction which will also allow me to save up some cash and keep going with more peace of mind. But since the Ivy League didn’t teach me anything about manual labor, they hired me as an unskilled worker. That means I’ll probably start out just hauling heavy things around all day. My first day is Monday, and I can’t wait!

I’ve also secured a second job, working part-time as a server at a restaurant where most of the staff are immigrants. With all the talk about the immigration law that went into effect here this month, this will be a great way to really become a part of that community. I’m hoping to meet some of the people who are here illegally and hear their stories.

This is an unplanned twist to the project, but part of walking like an American is working like an American. I do not doubt that this will add great value to the journey. It will give me the opportunity to fully experience life in this part of the country, and get more than just a glimpse at the changing demographics and racial dynamics of the region.

I look forward to this new chapter of the adventure, and I will continue to share with you my impressions and the stories of the people I meet. There is only thing that concerns me. A man I met told me “If you leave the South without a belly, you ain’t doin’ it right, boy!” This, I told him, is a part of the task which I do not intend to do properly. Does anyone know of a good gym in Tuscaloosa?

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*Photo by Constantino Diaz-Duran.