Heaven forbid, some people want to change Mississippi – Dog-whistles fly as November 7th General Election draws near

Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. Photo: Chris Young

By Christopher Young,

Contributing Writer,

MS Food Network during a drive-thru food pantry, courtesy of website

We can say it’s just politics, and it is, but when the stakes are as high as they are in Mississippi, the political rhetoric can have grave consequences. Not his only time, but at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob at the Mississippi Coliseum on October 26, incumbent Governor Jonathan Tate Reeves did it again, claiming – “They don’t just want to change governors, they want to change Mississippi!” God forbid. Why on God’s green earth would anyone want to change Mississippi?

Gov. Reeves understands dog-whistles. He understands a certain Mississippi mindset, fortunately not held by all, that couldn’t care less that our state is last in just about everything. And he clearly understands that barking to the Republican base that out-of-state funders, pouring millions into a Democratic campaign, is an attempt to change Mississippi. By doing so, he taps into a level of fear so deeply felt that it runs through Mississippi’s soil – fear that is a first cousin to hate.

Mississippi knows about hate. We know too, who Mississippi hates most of all. The vast majority of African Americans vote Democrat. Reeves knows all about it.

On June 10, 2020, acclaimed investigative reporter for the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization, and the author of “ Race Against Time,” Jerry Mitchell, submitted a guest column to the Clarion Ledger, entitled: “Pandemic of hate, racism still threatens America, but there is hope.” He artfully shared the original pandemic – “This pandemic struck us long ago, long before COVID-19 came to the fore, infecting our hearts with a disease known as hate. The roots of racism can be found in this hate, a toxic mix of fear and prejudice. And when we down this deadly drink, we begin to dehumanize, giving ourselves permission to treat others as less than human, or even to destroy them.”

As Mississippi’s Conservative-in-Chief, with or without his fitness trainer, lemon trees and meditation garden, Reeves – now visibly fearful in his shaky bid for reelection – dog whistles his faithful to stay the course with him despite evidence it is grossly undeserved, “They want to flip Mississippi blue. They don’t just want to change governors, they want to change Mississippi,” stated Reeves, as reported by WAPT’s Ross Adams.

There are many who want to see change in Mississippi, and lo and behold, they are not all Mississippians. Right-minded people, from all corners of the earth – people who believe in fairness and equity – are repulsed by what many in Mississippi view as the norm:

• Highest incarceration rate, and black people constituted 39% of state residents, but are 57% of people in jail and are 62% of people in prison, per www.vera.org.

• Highest rate for 18-64 year olds without insurance – 20%, per the CDC

• Life expectancy at birth is declining. Those born in Hawaii lives 8.8 years longer, per CDC

• Despite 44% minority population overall, Mississippi’s government awards just 5.5% of contracts for goods and services to minorities.

• Highest maternal mortality rate, per www.usafacts.org May 15, 2023

• Highest infant mortality rate, per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) September 12, 2023

• 2nd highest poverty rate – 19.4%, 49th in economic opportunity, per www.usnews.com 

• 49th in healthcare, 50th healthcare quality, 45th healthcare access, per www.usnews.com

These facts and statistics, without any doubt, are a true picture of Mississippi’s suffering, but they don’t tell the whole story. The fuller, more complete story is that all of it is intentional; not only intentional but conjured and delivered by a majority of elected officials who claim to love all Mississippi and claim to be Christian – they are self-called lovers of God and the words of God – yet they deliver pain and inequality to our brothers and sisters with each new legislative session.

In their unquestionably racist zeal to keep the African-American Mississippian down, they also forsake the poor of all colors and creeds, and they forsake others who toil each day to experience a decent life. They are hypocrites without equal, and their kind keep being elected. Directly or indirectly, they issue the promise to keep Mississippi as it is – a boiling kettle of racism and oppression – and they deliver the goods. 

Reeves has had his chances to undo the state’s 30-year history of proclaiming April as Confederate History Month and the fourth Monday in April as Confederate Memorial Day as a State Holiday – just like Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, but he has elected not to do so. He also elects not to have the state government recognize Black History Month, running contrary to the rest of the country.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2023 Kids Count Data Profile ranks Mississippi 48th overall. Twenty-eight percent of Mississippi’s children live in poverty. That number has not changed in the last five years. The Friends Committee on National Legislation, a nonpartisan Quaker organization, indicates that in 2021, 10.4% of American households experienced hunger, and that Mississippi’s rate is 15.3% – the highest in the nation. Heaven forbid that anyone would want to bring change to Mississippi.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.