Morgan Jerkins: Who Gets Displaced for the Sake of Tourism?
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
On hiding from the stakes of her book:
My editors said “you have to put yourself in it.” I didn’t want to because my first book was so personal. But even though I didn’t intend to hide, I was hiding because I wasn’t showing that I had a stake in this, as well as a potential reader has a stake in it. So once I had this come-to-Jesus moment with my agent and editors, I went backwards and started to interview family members. Magically, somehow, while I looked through the transcriptions of interviewees that I had talked to on my journey across the country, the interviews seemed to be in dialogue with each other.
On the consequences of turning places into tourist destinations:
When you go to [Hilton Head Island], the word “plantation” is ubiquitous, from the stores at the strip malls to the gated communities. The descendants of the formerly enslaved Gullah Geechee people are not living there. They hardly have access to it. It was really perverse, this blurred line between leisure and slavery, and that’s what I wanted to pay attention to… It’s not just happening in Hilton Head but all along the Lowcountry, because it’s such a beautiful region. I want people to consider the consequences of making those places so beautiful and modernized and marketable to tourists. Oftentimes the marginalized people there get pushed further toward the margins or even displaced.
Morgan Jerkins is the NYT bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing. She is a senior editor at Medium’s ZORA magazine. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Vogue, The New York Times, the Atlantic, Elle, Rolling Stone, Lenny Letter, and BuzzFeed, among many other outlets. She lives in New York. Her latest book is called Wandering In Strange Lands.