Mississippi Gets in Its Own Way Again

You can find enclaves of hate in any ZIP code. But when a church gets burned in Mississippi, which is what happened in Greenville earlier this week, it has to be national news because Mississippi has not dealt fully with its past sins. This isn’t to say that any place has; there’s as much segregation in Chicago as there is in Jackson. Yet is to say that a place that proudly proclaims itself as “the most Southern place on earth” has to own up to to consequences of embracing tradition. You can’t proclaim that things have changed one minute, and the next drape yourself with a flag that features a confederate symbol.

UPDATE: We aren’t all bad: about $180,000 has already been raised to rebuild the church. But the point remains: because of Mississippi’s history, the citizens of this state must collectively hold themselves to a higher standard because of the urgent need for racial reconciliation.

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27 Responses to Mississippi Gets in Its Own Way Again

  1. Shuchi Patel says:

    What happened in Greenville is depressing, but I am not surprised that this incident occurred. Most white Republicans try to stick to their beliefs which are clearly wrong. It’s 2016 and people still do not know how to treat others properly. If we accept everyone for who they are and not what we want them to be, the world would be a better place. No race should be superior to one another. Burning down a church is definitely not the answer to anything.

  2. Jagger Riggle says:

    Mississippi is very traditional. It does not have a lot of money, and it does not like changing major ideals. Race is one of those ideals that it was forced to change very rapidly within the last 100-150 years. However, things have gotten much better. The overall mindset of America has changed and people are starting to mix. Still, not all people like the integration as much. Parents taught their kids that is was bad, who taught their kids the same thing. It has continued to be passed down from generation to generation.

    At the same time, there are many people today that turn things to racism just to make more people angry. Not all things are about race, but the media changes somethings to make it sound like discrimination. Once people learn the truth, instead of only listening to the media, we will all be able to start living in peace and treating everyone as equals.

  3. Sarah Swiderski says:

    Mississippi is historically a hub for racism and discrimination in America, which is made worse because of our refusal to admit this is so. From my experience, many southern Republicans don’t see racism as a pertinent issue-I’ve even heard the argument that racism is more prevalent among blacks than whites. It’s not hard to see how people can be so ignorant. When we look around, there is an utter lack of museums and other historical sites, and thus a failure to teach future generations of past mistakes. It’s understandable to be ashamed of what has happened, but those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it-a truth made all too clear by the occurrence in Greenville.

  4. Yousef Abu-Salah says:

    I feel that these instances of violence as well as the future possible dangers have forced Mississippi to take one action: change our state flag. Our history as a state has been one of bloodshed and inhumane ways, reckoning to the days of both slavery as well as the countless murders that occurred for whoever knows what reason. This history cannot be allowed to continue to pop up, because it will only serve to cause even more problems. We as a state cannot take the nickname of the “hospitality state” if bloodshed continues to reign supreme. I understand this sounds idealistic, because one can never truly prevent violence from occurring due to the fact that violence is a key part of human nature. In order to grow as a state, we must truly let go of the past and look towards a better future. This is the only way in which we can truly become a “hospitality state.”

  5. Samuel Patterson says:

    America hasn’t dealt fully with its past sins. Mississippi is merely were America frequently shows its true colors. I am from Greenville and the presence of racism is hidden by the supermajority of African Americans living there. Some say that America is built on slavery, but this notion should be pinned directly to Mississippi. While the burning of the church was tragic, it simply shows just how much progress America has made with race relations and that fact is what is so tragic to other Americans

  6. Mariana Strawn says:

    Mississippi has always been considered one of the poorest and most socially backward state since the civil war. Walking down the streets in Ocean Springs for a parade or city event, it was not uncommon to see trucks pulled along the street will large confederate flags waving in the breeze. Maybe it is some twisted way of showing Mississippi pride. Maybe, although quite unlikely, these people do not associate the confederate flag with the slavery during the civil war. Regardless,this simple act is one of the many the reasons that many looking in and many within the state believe that racism is still a predominant issue. Looking at the burning of the church in Greenwood, it is hard to say that this isn’t the case. But when events like this occur, it is a stark reminder that we must continue fighting racism if we are ever to see the end of it. Mississippi is an amazing state with so much potential, perhaps it is finally time to let go of our bitterness for loosing the war and to finally progress past racism.

  7. Amber Jackson says:

    The article attached was a very interesting read. I think the reason why most whites are “valued” or more expensive than blacks is simply because of the history of this country. Whites have had years to develop themselves, their families, and their communities. Most people are sitting/living off of old money or are able to improve their economic standing because they started from a stable background. With blacks its not the same because there has been less time to be given the opportunity to develop a stable background/inheritance. People in poverty usually stay in poverty because that’s all they know, that’s all they’ve been exposed to, and they don’t know how to get out(or have the means). This isn’t just a problem in Mississippi, but it is a BIG problem in Mississippi (not just for blacks in this context).

  8. Kayci Kimmons says:

    It’s the same story, different day. We’re caught in a vicious cycle here in Mississippi, one that continues to raise chaos. What happened in the old times still continues to happen today, no matter how you look at it. It doesn’t matter that it happens a whole lot less; what matters is that it still happens. Many people fail to realize this, and that’s why we’re still stuck in this whirlwind of hate, stereotypes, and racism. If we as a whole are not willing to make the change, nothing gets fixed. Instances like these show that everyone is not yet on the same page. We’re still divided.

  9. Kayla Patel says:

    There are as many good things about Mississippi as there are bad things. Mississippi meets many of the stereotypes given to the state, good and bad. Mississippi is often known for poor rankings in educations and high obesity rates, but that’s not what Mississippi is all about. Change is not just wanted but needed. I have already decided that I do not want to stay in Mississippi, but I have not ruled out the south entirely.

  10. Aurelia Caine says:

    I live in Cleveland which is only about 45 minutes away from Greenville. I can probably count on one hand how many times this small little town has been on national news recently. For this situation to be about a church getting burned and vandalized, it is absolutely horrible. I think Mississippi is trying to change for better. But every time the state takes one step forward, it gets pushes back four more. It’s certain people who are just determined to stay the way they are and have Mississippi do the same. Some have to mature and realize that it is time to change the way we are viewed. Incidents like this are the reasons we have a negative image.

  11. Kendall Wells says:

    Being “southern” is not a bad label. There are as many good qualities to being labeled southern as there are bad. People who enhance the bad qualities and are living stereotypes of “southerners” are the reason Mississippi has such a bad image in the nation’s eye. The church burning down was a tragic hate crime and it’s disgusting that Mississippians are still racist enough to pull that kind of stunt. But, the media did not blow up the fact that citizens raised $180,000 for the new church, because who shares good news about the south? Most of the nation only sees the bad qualities of southerners through social media. In order to change, citizens need to come together and enhance the great rewards of being southern.

  12. Briana Johnston says:

    Mississippians are known for racism-it’s just the way it is. The more racially-motivated hate crimes committed, the more Mississippi’s reputation suffers. Boys from my home school proudly displayed the Confederate flag, some clueless about how it came across. The flag is an important part of our history, but it’s time to retire it and the negative symbolism. Our state still has deep-rooted racism, and that isn’t going to change overnight, but the retirement of the flag will eliminate what has become a sort of symbol of racism. This elimination will discourage future generations from the racism that plagues the state because they won’t be exposed to it in their everyday lives.

  13. Lydia Holley says:

    Hate crimes like this give Mississippi and the south bad names. When bad things happen we usually stick together and help each other, but when people don’t get their way with politics people are killed and Churches are burned. We need to work together during this time and work to make the world a better place. We need to work on making a good name for our state instead of letting people destroy our state. It seems as though the only time Mississippi is mentioned in national news is when something bad happens. We all need to work on making it that our state is mentioned for the good things, not hate crimes.

  14. Madalyn Coln says:

    Crimes like this are incredibly embarrassing to me as a resident of Mississippi, among many other reasons…
    Ultimately, the worst part about this whole situation is that it would be easy for someone to say “All of those racist Trump supporters” or whatever else, because people tend to associate the bad decisions/qualities of one person in a group to be the common behavior of the entire group. That’s not true.
    However– the burning of a church was in no way acceptable, whether white or black, but in this case it could be a crime targeted to intimidate voters. This is also unacceptable. What is this place coming to?

  15. Vera L. Taire says:

    I think everyone here is ignoring the fact that there are, in fact, differences between the two races. We have different values, different standards, and different morals. More so, they’re missing that equality doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has everything exactly the same. Equality means everyone having what they need. Race is an issue because we make it an issue. It’s time to move on. The last of the slave and slave-owning generation have passed away.
    Looking further, did the church really affect the election results? Would Trump have won either way? I don’t think so. Had he not inspired such racist, hateful acts, would he have inspired the same devotion in his followers? I think the passion that led the burning is the very same passion that led many to the booth in Trump’s favor.

  16. Landry Filce says:

    I feel as though this is not only a hate crime but also quite possibly voter intimidation. The Mississippi Delta has a high percentage of African American residents, who are statistically more likely to vote for Clinton than Trump. White residents of the Delta are notoriously some of the most conservative people in the nation, and it wouldn’t be surprising to me if they tried to suppress liberal voters as much as they could.
    I think it is important to mention that “Vote Trump” was spray painted onto the side of the church after it was burned. It was a black church that burned down, a safe haven for a group of people heavily discriminated against here in the South. The arsonists knew this and sought to destroy a safe place and scare people into not voting for the candidate that they truly believe in.

  17. Stephanie Dauber says:

    It’s hard to change when you have so many influences everywhere else, pushing you not to. I had a pastor literally say “This rising generation is just waiting for us to die. We must teach them out ways so that they don’t die out.” I can’t make this up. Older generations aren’t progressive, and they do not want to deviate from their ways, no matter the consequences. We are stuck in the past and it’s frustrating quite honestly to see such an influential demographic not want to innovate or change.

  18. AK Mynatt says:

    To a point, we are still just as segregated as we were in the 50’s or 60’s. Back home, there are three public schools. Two of which are predominately white while the third is predominately black. People who are racist that lived in that time are slowly dying off which is quite blunt, but is it for the better? If they aren’t here to spread their negative beliefs on the color of someone’s skin, will racism last much longer? I understand that it’s basically a passed down tradition to be racist here in the south, so why aren’t more people trying to stop it?

  19. Devon M says:

    Honestly, I am ready to move out of Mississippi. However, I don’t want to leave my roots in the south. I really love Tennessee. Anyways, I think that Mississippi has a negative light shone on it because we are dead last in a lot of major things: obesity, education, teen pregnancy rates (I think for that last one). Mississippi needs to change for the better, but the only way that we can change as a state is for the people to want to change for the betterment of the state. Honestly, government can only do so much until it is in the hands of the citizens to make the decisions themselves.

  20. Emily King says:

    I find myself questioning whether Mississippi ever moved past the Civil War more and more every time I look at the things that happen here. Of course, it’s not all Mississippi’s fault: the rest of the United States always seems quick to point out anything terrible that happens here and use it as an excuse to call Mississippians unjust or intolerant. While that’s clearly not universally true, as evidenced by everyone at MSMS, it is, unfortunately, true for some in the state. Besides, this act of arson is hardly the only hate crime that has happened. Something clearly needs to change here, and yet, while incidents like this are instantly splashed across front page news across the country and used as evidence to call this state terrible, no one actually seems to be willing to do anything to fix anything.
    If the rest of the country wants to talk about the bad things that can happen here, that’s fine. Still, it seems that, if they’re going to do that, they might at least be productive while doing so, and actually try to do something about it—instead of just using it to sell metaphorical newspapers.

  21. Brianna Ladnier says:

    I love Mississippi, but I do not love it for its oppression, ignorance, and racist ways. Mississippi will never change, and that is the most discouraging thing a Mississippian can hear. The majority of Mississippians are not reflected in the decisions of our legislature or those few idiots that catch the national eye of media. I never wish to move away from Mississippi, but if it will not progress away from the 1920s, then I will not have a choice.

  22. P. Patel says:

    Bad things happen everyday in every state, but news reporters only like to broadcast about things that will bring them most popularity. I believe that every state needs changes , but some states need it faster than others. Mississippi needs many changes, and one them is to change the state flag. Another thing people need to change is how they react to things so quickly. For example, if people reacted to things with a clear mind than there would not be as much violent as there is right now.

  23. Mariat Thankachan says:

    Change is good and in the case of Mississippi, change is necessary. It is time that people alter their viewpoints on race and embrace the differences. As awareness of racial injustice continues to build around the nation, young citizens are eager to provide solutions. The problem is that these individuals lack the knowledge to bring about great change, not that they are not trying. They don’t know what racial reconciliation looks like or how to work towards achieving it because they grew up in racially isolated communities. Mississippi’s past had already gone down in history, but change is undoubtedly needed to ensure that our state represents diversity and considers everyone a member of the family.

    • P. Patel says:

      I agree with you that if everyone considered everyone else as their family member then the crime rates will go down. Also, we need to start educating our individuals to make good changes, and not bad changes.

  24. Meagan Pittman says:

    The increasing media coverage and reporting of events such as these, can help to shift peoples opinions, slowly but surely. The more that people see how hate charged these actions are, the more they begin to realize how widespread this hate is. I don’t necessarily believe that every citizen in Mississippi must hold themselves to a “higher standard,” people simply should not proclaim their hate for others. And if doing so is considered a high standard instead of normalcy, I am disappointed with society. “Racial reconciliation” does not have to be anything extravagant or particularly groundbreaking, it should simply be love shared ~mutually~ between races.

  25. Kamal Bhalla says:

    We always say that Mississippi is the “hospitality” state, yet events like this occur. We cannot grow as a state as events like these occur, but we do not learn from them. We can only grow if we (at least try to) educate people and (try to) become united. The only way we can be the “hospitality” state, if we welcome our neighbors and be kind to them just as we should be to everyone else.

  26. Jackson Sparkman says:

    Its time to finally change our state flag. Our state cannot bathe in the glory of tradition if that tradition is slavery, and ignoring the horrendous acts of hate its citizens has committed. Our state’s universities are so embarrassed of the symbol of our state flag they’ve stopped flying. Mississippi finally needs to bury the hatchet of the Civil War to become a new sate of equality and love.
    Mississippi. It’s a fantastic place full of art and wonderful people. Its a state from which our family lives. When a hurricane hits, we rebuild together. When a tornado hits, we stay together. So if our people feature of such togetherness, why do we have a flag that is so divisive. We should have to have a flag that features our best qualities, not one that panders to the more aggressive faction of deplorable racists. Their numbers dwindle every day.
    We had a tradition of not washing our hands. We realized that not washing our hands lead to many bad outcomes. We changed to become better. We still remember a time from which we didn’t wash our hands, and the outcome then because we don’t want to repeat those times.
    It’s time we do that with our state. Starting with our state flag.

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