( INTRO )
In Mississippi, being a conservative white woman is embraced and those who turn from those beliefs risk abuse, rejection or public humiliation
“I love you,” Chera Sherman’s mother told her before driving away in her Jeep Cherokee, leaving her daughter, then 19, bawling fat tears in front of her boyfriend’s home in Laurel, Mississippi.
It was 1994, and Sherman had made the life-altering mistake of falling in love with Jerry Breland, a lanky, black 19-year-old she’d met through a friend back when she worked at Kmart.
Her mother had finally told her stepfather about their six-month relationship earlier that day after a local cop pulled Breland over while he was driving his girlfriend’s yellow Sunbird. When her stepfather heard she was violating his code against race-mixing, he drove to her job to tell her she had to move out.
“White men aren’t going to want you,” her father told her.