A whole lot of ‘taking’ going on

By Christopher Young,

Contributing Writer,

Legions of good people are watching the recent developments at the Mississippi State Capitol in horror. Mississippi can’t ever move forward when we have a supermajority of legislators practicing what simmers down to white superiority. These folks help multi-million-dollar white corporations to expand in Mississippi using tax dollars from all Mississippians, while they methodically starve the blackest populated parts of the State. Today in legislative session, these folks are taking aim at our capital city in an effort to make it theirs.

House Bill 1168 which directs certain municipalities to spend 100% of income from its 1% sales tax on water and sewer only. A state take-over of a portion of the city checkbook is authored by Representative John Thomas Lamar III (R-08). His district is nearly 70% white like him, population of 24,000 and 150 miles away from Jackson. 

Bill status currently: Passed by House February 2, 2023 by a vote of 76-41 with 3 bowing out of the vote. Now on to the Senate it goes.

Senate Bill 2889 which creates Mississippi Capitol Region Utility Act – installing a board of appointees having authority over the Central Mississippi water system. The Mayor of Jackson will be able to appoint four members (at least for an initial term) of the nine-member board.

A state take-over of Jackson’s water system is authored by Senator David Parker (R-02). His district is nearly 50% white like him, population of 61,000 and 180 miles away from Jackson.

Bill Status currently: Passed by Senate February 7, 2023 by a vote of 34-15 with 3 bowing out of the vote. Now on to the House it goes.

House Bill 1020 would create a new Court System inside the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) with staff being appointed rather than elected – and – expand the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police into north-northeast Jackson right to County Line Road. Replacing the will of Jackson voters to elect their own judges with appointees, by all-white appointors – and – Jackson would have 18.758% of its normal allocations from the State taken away to help fund all this – and – so much more. This bill is authored by John Thomas Lamar III.

Bill Status currently: Passed by House February 7, 2023 by a vote of 76-38 with 6 bowing out of the vote. Now on to the Senate it goes.

Systemic racism is resilient. It has been alive and flourishing in what we now call the United States of America – “the land of the free and the home of the brave” for over 400 years – since 1619. The forms of taking change over time – never the intent.

Two hundred forty-five years of slavery; taking identity, country, rights, esteem, dignity – stripping away everything possible – even the breath of life. There was some measure of reprieve during Reconstruction, but only for twelve years. Then Jim Crow; racially mandated segregation, black codes, and on and on – relentlessly for another eighty-eight years; another eighty-eight years of taking, but with the added overlap of ongoing white terrorism, the Klan, redlining, mass incarceration, felony disenfranchisement, convict leasing, debt peonage, hate groups, and New Deal exclusion – the list never ends. White nationalists are terrified by the browning of what they view as their America. Their fear becomes more acute with each new Census report. 

It’s easy to see how through enslaving, incarcerating, depriving of resources, the United States has evolved to the largest economy in the world. For the takers, they can easily set aside every fundamental tenant of Christianity in favor of economics. Their train keeps on rolling, fueled by those benjamins.

Some people say that racism and oppression is invisible in the modern day. Surely its invisible in the Mississippi Delta. Hospital closures with threats of more hospital and clinic closures and other reductions of medical services – in one of the poorest parts of the poorest State in America – and in the area where at one point in time nearly 60% of the entire country’s exports derived. But a firm “no” to Medicaid expansion – calling it Obama Care. Saying no to expanding Medicaid in the poorest State in the country, the state ranked dead last in healthcare and numerous health outcomes, becomes just another lever of racism and oppression here. And remember, this occurs as state leaders boast having a $4 billion surplus.

Only two months ago, eleven white-owned farming operations in the Delta were held to account by the Department of Labor. Mississippi Today reported that the fines came after the farms misused a popular visa program that brought in white workers from South Africa as it underpaid black local workers and phased out their farm jobs. “For the first time in 25 years, the Delta has its own Wage and Hour Division investigators stationed in Greenwood and Clarksdale. Prior to the recent hires, the nearest investigators were in Jackson,” they reported on November 28, 2022. The takers never stop taking, and not a word of outcry from the state’s top elected officials.

Racism and oppression are certainly not invisible in Jackson, Mississippi, my new home and home to some of the finest men and women I have ever had the privilege of knowing. An 80+% black city, suffocating in poverty – probably double that of the statewide level estimated at 20%. The city is in grave danger of losing our airport, our public schools, our water system and our autonomy – which are all under black leadership. The takers, identified as white Christian Republicans, many who once ran away from Jackson, now intent on reclaiming Jackson as theirs – all in the broad light of day.

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