In some ways, society has become a lot more integrated over the past few decades, with blacks and whites, Asians and Latinos, Jews and Muslims mingling more in school, at work, and in social settings. But when it comes to death, we tend to remain segregated, according to an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The way it plays out, white funeral homes serve whites, black funeral homes attract blacks, while Hispanic or Jewish funeral homes handle their respective peoples, funeral officials say.
"In the South, it's still old-school," said Bradley Smith, funeral director for Advantage Funeral Home and Cremation Service. "Even the cemeteries are segregated."
Smith's funeral home in Chattanooga is trying to change that. At Advantage Funeral Home, Smith, who is white, and co-director Nate Pinkard, who is black, are "breaking the mold." Advantage caters to a diverse group of families, be they black, white or Jewish.
"They did what nobody ever said could be done; they made a black and white funeral home," said Wilbert McClure, another Advantage funeral director, who is black.
Part of the reason for Advantage's success may be their relative affordability. By keeping prices low, Advantage has been able to attract customers from all corners.
"It doesn't matter if you're poor or rich or white or black," Smith said. "That's what makes us unique; we can bury anybody."
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