Southern Style: Mississippi Madness

Our very first stop on the southern tour brings us absolutely wonderful news!

My fellow Americans…slavery has ended!

That ugly chapter is finished and we are free! (Does it really matter that slavery was abolished, oh, around..1865?)

Mississippi. Are you serious? The stench of this can not be covered with the smell of magnolia in bloom. A cold glass of sweet tea won’t help it go down any easier. This state has one of the highest population of blacks, for God’s sake! I am beginning to think this state is the land that time forgot…

* Last state to officially repeal prohibition

* Repealed the interracial marriage ban in 1987…20 years after SCOTUS ruled the ban unconstitutional

* Poll tax officially removed…in 1989

* A state constitution that says, in Section 265, “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.” (This is not enforceable, but still!)

And although happy that freedom has been embraced, I remain saddened..and a wee bit angry. This type of news is not encouraging.

This reluctance is understandable. After all, before the War of Northern Aggression (I still chuckle at that one!), Mississippi was ranked the fifth wealthiest state. No wonder it was the second state to declare succession. Slavery (which played NO part) was quite profitable.

But..the Confederate States lost. I know it hurts, but it’s true. Instead of acceptance, Jim Crow. Rather than handshakes, lynchings. Where there should have been integration, segregation. No longer the Black Belt, but the Bible Belt. Praise Jesus? Yes, let’s praise the fact that in just three short generations post freedom: blacks went from free farm owners..to sharecroppers..to landless and facing poverty. That freedom sure took, huh?

And now, the United States is post racial.

Are we, really?

I have always chuckled at that phrase…post racial. It is supposed to create a warm and fuzzy about our long, hard fought victory over racism. Its real meaning: Hush your mouth! That is all in the past, chile! Move on, already!

Here’s a radical idea…let’s treat people equally. We will move on when institutionalized racism moves on.

Fund impoverished schools (in predominantly black neighborhoods). Reform the penal system (which disproportionately impacts the black community). Get to work ensuring that unemployment in the black community is not consistently higher than white unemployment.

We are progressing, but we are not post racial. Mississippi simply shined a light on the dark underbelly of America. We can shake our heads. We can be sad. We can be angry. But, we must act! Ratification is just the beginning. Let’s work on that teen birth rate, that’s the highest in the country. Let’s improve healthcare, where you’re ranked near the bottom. Let’s work on lowering unemployment, which has been hovering around 10%.

Don’t misunderstand, Mississippi. I like Oprah. And I enjoy a root beer, on occasion. And nobody’s voice is as soothing as Morgan Freeman’s. But, come on, we have to do better than this. This whole equality thing…is not a fad. We can get serious about it now.

It’s time to jump off the porch swing and get to work!

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