18 October 2005

Racism Lives In Mississippi

Daily Kos diarist philinmaine provides his account:

We started in Laurel, MS, a town of some 30,000 90 miles from the coast. Every fourth house had a tarp on it, trees into houses, across driveways, debris in the roads, well, it looked like a week after a mighty big storm. . . .

First, it's physically different. Young (white) men's haircuts are pretty much a variation of the old Ringo Starr look, long bangs hanging over the eyes, a throw back to the `rebel' days of American Graffiti. Andy and Opie, sex, football, and Jesus (although Jesus is another code name for white and pure). Blacks know they are not equal, but most are also a throw back to the `50's.Just give me my crappy job, leave me alone and come on Friday night is at least one motto. The invisible lines are everywhere. Go into a small convenience store and the sign says 79 cents, get to the register and if you're white you pay 59 cents. It's called double pricing and it exists. I'm sure I haven't even picked up on half of it.

A few select scenes: I'm on the phone with a property manager who tells me he has some good places to rent and some worker homes but he can tell from talking to me that I would not want a worker home because, "those are for blacks, mexicans and guatamalans, they're used to living on dirt floors." Casually, normal conversation, no change of voice, he says this. I had to meet him. His office is replete with several copies of the Bible and from the news clippings I can see he is a minister who likes to bowl. He shows me a couple of places and along the way assures me there is no racism in MS today.

I'm standing outside a print shop in downtown Laurel. The owner brought me outside to show me downtown Laurel. Like many downtowns of mid size towns, it has been relatively deserted for the malls so there are few stores, not much to recommend it but he says, "Did you expect to see this in MS? In Laurel, it's still 1978, and let me tell you, there is no color in MS, contrary to popular opinion." Allow me to explain that statement. Since I've been in MS, I have been reassured many, many times there is no racism in MS today. I'm sure I've been told this since anyone can tell I'm not `from here' in less than two seconds. I don't even need to open my mouth. But they want me to know there is no racism in MS. Then they often proceed to tell me something racist. I quickly learned racists introduce themselves by saying, `there is no racism in MS today.'


Hope comes and goes. In Mississippi, it may be a long time before it returns.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is interesting. I am thinking about moving to Hattiesburg and I will not fit the mold there.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I have lived in Mississippi my entire life. I am a white caucasian female, currently attending a public state university. I also attended a public high school that was 40% caucasion, 40% african american, and 20% other ethinicities that varied from german and russian to asian and hispanic. I have several friends of all ethinicities and never once, in my 21 years of living in this state, have I witnessed violence or discrimination based upon race. However, I suppose you would have to actually live here to realize that and since you are not 'from here' you have chosen to view a very small portion of our state. It is a stigma we may never overcome because of isolated accounts such as yours matched with our notorious history. So thank you for being yet another individual who ignorantly uses their microscope to diagnose our entire state as being racist.

Anonymous said...

Its funny that someone of your race is defending it so much, you might not see what other races see. I have friends that are caucasion who will say that they do not see racism when at our school or in certain stores but that is because they are not african american or of any other race. What we see is different than what you see. When it comes to certain looks,actions, or tones of voice some caucasions can be a little naive. So maybe you should look a little closer before you say anything at all

Anonymous said...

I spent a couple of years working as a physician in Mississippi. I have also spent a lot of time traveling. I am a white male from the mid west. I can say that the people of Mississippi are by far the most ignorant and lazy group of people I have ever seen in my entire life, especially the black community, but many whites as well.

My advise to the young people in MS was always... leave asap.

Anonymous said...

I am a white male originally from Chicago, have lived in 13 cities before I recently turned 30. I went to high school in Jackson and college in Hattiesburg. My take is this: my white friends who have lived in MS think there is no racism issue. But, they have nothing to compare it to. I never had an issue, went to a private high school almost 100% white then a public high school that was 90% african american. I didn't have a problem, but I am not racist. The elements are there is a white social class and side of town, then a black side.
Went to college in Hattiesburg and found that it was okay. I liked dating in MS, it was easy getting dates being from bigger cities and being different. However, after many racist issues witnessed, the final straw was when I graduate college in 2002 and my stepfather came with my mother to graduation. I had a friend book them a room at a local hotel for the event. When they came into town from Boca Raton, FL, they wouldn't let him in because they thought he was Mexican. He is from Bogota, Columbia and actually lived in Spain. He was a retired multi-millionaire that helped form the European Union and ran the world's largest medical supply company from Italy. When I got to the hotel, they let him in. I thought about explaining who it was they were having an "issue" with trying to find his "reservation", but knew they wouldn't know what the EU was let alone care. I graduated in the summer and there were so few people at the hotel, I parked right by the front door.
So, as soon as I graduated, I moved immediately to Colorado Springs and at my first job, I met an african american guy who was just in Hattiesburg. He was with his white friend, the two of them went to Mardi Gras and got in a car wreck in Hattiesburg. She was hospitalized and they wouldn't let him up to her room to see her. I had just been there to see a friend of mine and no one stopped me or even asked a question as I repeatedly came over there for days.
Mississippi is easy living, you can be a big fish in a small pond, especially if you have an education. But, there is a reason the cost of living there is cheap and I swore I would never raise my family there. Haven't been back since. I prefer VA, NC and Colorado personally.

Anonymous said...

From an earlier post: "I also attended a public high school that was 40% caucasion, 40% african american, and 20% other ethinicities that varied from german and russian to asian and hispanic"

Uh... since I'm of German heritage, I'm not considered caucasian now? For that matter, Russians aren't either?

Wake up. Your post reeks of racism.

Anonymous said...

i've been to the deep south many times. It's not the best place to live that's for sure. something I am also sure of is that people need to learn about history and why people are the way they are. the oppression that existed in the south up until the 70's still affects society because it was not very long ago. all of the racist events had a grave affect on people's lives, their family's legacy, their chance for success, and their ability to get jobs and a good education. this term "laziness" is a sensitive term. lack of resources, lack of education, lack of support from the government, is going to hold people down. if a white community was restricted all the same things that the people of color were restricted from for many decades after abolition of slavery, then that would hold them down too wouldn't it...

Anonymous said...

I live in mississippi and my job involves meeting lots of people. Im mixed black and white but look more hispanic. I have never in my life heard some one use a hispanic racial slurr around me but the "N" word I hear almost on a daily basis. The bottom line is racism is strongly alive in mississippi, they still fly the confederate flag for gods sake and for anyone to say the flag is not a symbol of racism is sadly mistaken.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! I guess that flag was racist when black people were fighting behind it too huh. And maybe that flag was racist when black people owned slaves if they could afford them. Or maybe it was racist when you people made it racist and took away the real meaning of it. Idiots!

Anonymous said...

that flag is so racist.

Anonymous said...

I live in Mississippi.
Mississippi has a higher ratio of blacks to whites than ANY state in the United States. It's why the obesity rate is highest here, why the federal tax dollars sent here are so high, has the highest rate of deaths contributed by heart attacks per capita than any other state, and many, many other BAD statistics.
But that first one is why white people are the way they are.

Not all whites in Mississippi are racist. But it's not a stretch to say that over 90% of them are. Only less than 10% will truly admit it.
I admit I am one. Because of what I have to see, live with, and PAY for...when a black man has EVERY opportunity to reach the same things I can.
Laziness is in the eye of the holder. And in the proof of the percentages of blacks on the welfare rolls.
Everyone wants to be fake,..or a critic. Without facing FACTS.

Memphis,TN is the PERFECT example of how blacks can't even take care of their damn selves. They run the whole city and are in charge of everything there. And yet they rank the highest in the nation in everything negative.
It's no wonder white america doesnt want a black president....look at what a great job the black mayors do for this country. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mississippian, born and raised in the so-called good ole south. So-called white folks were racist then, when I was growing-up...and they are still a bunch of racist pecks. Not only in Miss, but all over the world where black foks resides!

The Facts!

Anonymous said...

"I quickly learned racists introduce themselves by saying, `there is no racism in MS today.'"
this sentence summarizes all. Read some of the comments you'll understand.

Deathgrip000 said...

I have lived in the state of Mississippi my entire life. I've been all around missippi and can say, Yes SOME Mississippians are still cought on the past. Rather it be a product of their enviroment or simply because someone somewhere fucked over them in school or work or whatever.
I can not see any problem with either Black or White people anywhere. Yes, some people have things easier while others are struggling (Trying hard but not getting too far)As far as the flag goes, It represented something like your last name represents your family heratige. Which is fine but at some point and time your name changes and so for better judgement so should this flag. I've been called the "N" word but have never found it to be offensive. Its not polite nor necessary, but it is as it is, A WORD. I wish everyone would stop looking for hand outs. To the White People, no one owns slaves anymore. GET over it!! To the Black People, No one owns slaves anymore. Get over it. No one will be handing out 40 achers and a mule anytime soon. And to the guy/ girl who said they are reacist, i really hope you have a change of heart soon, but i do respect the fact that youre able to admit it. Thats brave. Its not all Black peoples fault about the crime rate in Memphis. Thats just poor leadership and people witnessing things going on and not reporting it. Yes, SNITCHING. So if no one is willing to make that step forward you'll always on the downside of life. I do hope one day everyone would grow up. Move forward, and only read about this is history books. Can someone, ANYONE tell me why this isn't possable?

Anonymous said...

I have never been nor will I ever go to Mississippi. I just want to put it out there that rasism works both ways and I know so many more rasist black people than I do rasist white people. STOP THE HATE ON BOTH SIDES!

Anonymous said...

I am a mix of about 80% white the rest is native american. I live in south west ms, and have a utility service job that keeps me in random peoples yards. I have 8 years experience dealing with people in every situation and neighborhood local here. DEATHGRIP said it well but I would like to still weigh in. There is racism on both sides of the spectrum but it usually varies with opinion. Personally here I see self segregation every day. Wealthy people, usually upper scale whites, move them selves into neighborhoods others cant afford to move into. While welfare class blacks get gov. housing benefits that most whites cant get. Therefore they move into huge project housing developements to where they will hardly let whites enter without a very hard time. I personally have been threatened to be shot and have came very close to having to fight a group of people who demanded me give them the fire wood in my truck. luckily for me i'm big hairy and mean. People stereotype others based on what their tv says. There happens to be free thinkers like me DEATHGRIP, and some others who have likely above 120 IQ. Personally I think the largely zionist controlled media controlling the way our politicians vote is our main problem. They keep the people against each other so they can control the system. Look it up find out for your self. National vanguard has done lots of research although they are a primarily white support group, which I think is ignorant. The democrats have been buying votes from the blacks for a long time with welfare. That has caused a huge devision in the system. Lots of blacks will not try to succeed because they will lose welfare and if they do they will actually lose lots of finance. In turn they take less jobs not get rejected. Look into jefferson county and wilkinson county ms. There is little to no productive economy there, yet there is only white land owners and arabic store owners. THE ONLY WAY TO HELP FIX THIS PROBLEM IS TO NOT VOTE IN DEMS OR REPS BUT NEW GENUINE PEOPLE.

Carv said...

I think that the subject of racism cuts more than one way.
There can be no doubt that for a lot of America's history, blacks were treated as second class citizens. I feel as bad about that as anyone.
That being said, the past is the past. I believe that today, people of all races have opportunity - it's just that some people simply choose not to pursue it, and instead choose to focus on how bad their race was treated. Life is all about your inner attitude, and where you put your focus, regardless of your race.

Anonymous said...

I am a bi racial adult from the West Coast now living in the South. I can say without a doubt race is still a huge issue here. Being that there are 3 military facilities on the coast you would think that there would be a better attitude for your neighbor. Truth is there is not. I can excuse the 70 to 90 year old men I meet on base because they are using words they know and lived. I will not excuse the adults that teach at the school or run the football teams. Every child deserves the same education rather red,white,purple,brown or green. What they do with it is up to them. But when they can not achieve the same education because the teachers play by different rules it makes me angry.I will not deny my race any of them because each is part of me and where I come from but I will say this if I could up and move, sell my home and business I would because the Good Ole Boy system the mayor his family and friends throw around sucks.I have never met a larger bunch of puffed up birds in my life. I can say I am racist against stupid ignorant,over rated, and fake politicans, admin and friends. If I did not own my business, my own home, drive a nice car and dress in name brands, I promise you I would never have seen peoples true faces.Now that I have I promise you they are worse than the welfare mom who keeps having kids for the money.Racism is not dead n the South and neither is white trash/ black trash or for that matter ignorance. I am made of 5 races and addd two more in my boys so heniz 57 is my name and I have learned both great and powerful things from each family member and I hide those who act poorly because there are clowns and a disgrace in everything. To those who blame Obama you would be blaming it if it were a woman too so stop smell the roses and try to be a good person so a child watching can learn something valueable not HATE. I have met good friends but the bad out weigh the good by far

Carv said...

To the Anonymous poster in the last post: and racism is not an issue in the West? Particularly California and Arizona? Do you remember incidents related to a certain Rodney King, in a city called Los Angeles?? And in Arizona, particularly in the cities, people are developing downright phobias against the Mexican immigrants that hop over the border.
My point is, racism is EVERYWHERE.
My famiy comes from India. Look at the caste system there. Unfortunately it is still prevalent today, and many millions of people are prevented from living an otherwise better life, just because they're part of a "lower" caste.
The point of all of this is, the mind. The reality of the mind is just plain harsh - the mind wants to set up likes and dislikes, it wants to discriminate between this and that - and not just race. The mind may not like certain types of foods, or cultures, or personalities, or professions, or what have you.
It's the nature of the mind to want to discriminate between a lot of things. To just pin it down to race is missing a very big picture. It will take a lot for all of us to have a very open mind about a lot of things, not just race. And that is a very very difficult challenge to overcome, indeed.

Carv said...

(Cont'd) so what it all boils down to is, that we must master OURSELVES before mastering others, and trying to change the world. Change in the world ultimately happens from change in the INDIVIDUALS.
Yes, I know it's much easier than done. But again...the change must happen from within first.

Anonymous said...

We're a Filipino-American family from Texas, and we're driving to Florida to spend Christmas there, and we're stopping in Ocean Springs, MS overnight. We ate at a nearby catfish restaurant, and as soon as we entered the building, the whole place fell silent in a matter of seconds and they were staring at us like we were aliens. The food was good, I admit, but we couldn't help but feel a little uncomfortable. Is this racism? Yes. Is this hate and/or discrimination? No. Their reaction was simply a xenophobic one. I mean, Mississippi isn't exactly the most diverse state in the country, so it really isn't very surprising that the people reacted the way they did.

Anonymous said...

BLACKS ? WHATS ARE BLACKS, ARE THEY RELATED TO GREENS AND BLUES MS IS ALL LAZY WHITE PEOPLE WHO SUPPRESS THE BLACK PEOPLE BECAUSE WHITE PEOPLE BLAME BLACK FOR BEING POOR EVEN THOUGH ITS BECAUSE THEY DONT DESERVE ANYTHING FOR BEING BITTER LAZY RACISTS MS NEEDS TO GET WITH TIMES GET RID OF THE CONFEDERATE FLAG(REALLY ITS LIKE A GERMAN STATE HAVING A SWASTIKA COME ON MAN) AND STOP BLAMING OTHER PEOPLE FOR THEIR PROBLEMS

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how people must treat the Gay community down there.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Are you serious about charging different people different amounts of money at the counter? I have lived in Mississippi and have never seen this occur once. I worked at a grocery store of all places and never once charged a customer a different price based race. That is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Wow. As a MS resident, I must say there is racism in MS. This is a two way street though. I'm black, and many blacks where I'm from are not very accepting of white people. The reason for their hatred varies depending on what they have seen, and what they have been taught growing up. I grew up in a predominately black, poverty-stricken town in the MS delta. The only jobs were either in the cotton fields or the catfish plans. Mostly everyone disliked white people because of the white people's treatment of blacks.
I have seen racism many times with my own eyes. Once, when I was working at a fast-food restaurant as a teenager, an elderly white man plainly told me, " I don't want you to fix my food, I don't eat food made by nigger's". Another time, an older white guy told me that I was a good lil nigger girl. This didn't happen in the 50's or 60's; this was the late 90's. ( I am only 29 y/o) I'm not making this up. I have no reason to. Things are different down here.
I've accpeted it, and in my life I can honestly say that racism hasn't hindered my ability to be successful. I hate it when I hear people say things about how the white man brings us down. I think that is total crap and an excuse. Life is what you make of it, and regardless of whether you live in a racist town or not, you should be accountable for your situation in life.
For all the racists out there, I say do what you do. Everyone has their own beliefs, right or wrong. I won't let that affect me, though.

Anonymous said...

I went to MS on a fishing trip. I hailed a cab at the airport. Before the cabby ask where I wanted to go, he asked me, "do you know what a good niger is, well the only good niger is a dead niger swinging from a tree." Maybe racism isn't alive in MS but my cab driver sure was...

Anonymous said...

I read all the comments and the one I respect the most comes from someone who admits there are racial problems but puts their black head above it all and makes a success of their life. No matter the obstacles they are making a better tomorrow even in Miss. I am a white person with grandchildren are biracial. They are the most beautiful to my eyes. I do not see colour. Others do. Ignorance breeds racism. There is racism even here in CAnada. My son inlaw feels it. Like that person who said they became a success in spite of it, I salute you. The world has changed considerably during my time and it will again.

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that all of the non Mississippi people are such experts on the place of my birth and have such charming stories to tell about how much they think they know. Let me fill you in a bit. White folks in Mississippi have had Civil Rights crammed down our throat for so many years at the hands of agitators. I am not an uneducated person but I can share my experiences with you as a true blood Mississippian. I started school the year of intergration. I have been educated and worked with black people most of my life. I don't hate but race mixing is still frowned upon, especially when it comes to dating. If a white woman who is born and raised in Mississippi dates a black man she is usually either fat or white trash or both. I know a lot of you liberals don't want to believe that but since everyone is being so honest I think I will be that way too. Unless you are born and rasied in a white middle/upper class family you will never understand this. Our state has the highest population of black/white ratio in America, therefore that makes Mississippi different because of demogaphics. Our experiences are different. I just accept people for what they are but I don't care to socialize with them. Using the term racist is not offensive to me because it is probaly true. I think it would be interesting to see if some of these people screaming racism would feel different if they lived in a state that was so populated with black people. If you have never had outsiders trying to tell you how to live and think I bet you might feel a bit offended. Oh and by the way the Confederate flag is something to be revered not ashamed of.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is very definately racist. I'm white and I've lived in Mississippi, and I've listened to what people say there. The people there are dumb, stupid, and ignorant. That state will never change. The entire culture of that place is based around hate and intolerance. I'm white and I hated it there. I don't know how a person of a different race can stand that place!

Anonymous said...

I don't really know if anyone ever comes back to this site to read or even reread comments. My father was apart of the last Great Migration that ended in the early 70's. He went from Mississippi to Denver, CO where he raised 8 college graduates. Two of his children have doctorate degrees. He only finished the 3rd grade and was classified as illiterate. I am grateful that he left Mississippi and raised his children in a city that provided us with a multitude of opportunities to succeed. That said, he NEVER talked about race being a defining factor of success. He believed in hard work and raised us to believe that our success depended on it. He has since retired and moved back to Mississippi and I visit often. He lives in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I have yet to experience racism. I know racism exist. At my current job as a faculty member at CU-Boulder, I can walk from my office to the other side of campus and not see another face that looks like mine. Racism is everywhere. Let's keep it real folks.

Anonymous said...

So you say black people are lazy because of welfare but im from michigan where the numbers are diffrent its just as many white people on welfare then black and far as history go white people have lied,cheated and stole there way thru history then have the nerve to say blacks are lazy lets not forget how blacks and chinease help build this country for free and the lazy slave owners sat on there ass thats why the southern states didnt wont slavery to end Because They Were Lazy and couldnt picture themselfs working for a living so they made up false beliefs about black people but racism lives in all races we all have our share of lazy people that dont mean everyone in that race is the same way

Anonymous said...

Dam Mississippi

Anonymous said...

I love the US, been there a few times, have family there, and just want to keep going back. Never been to the South though. After reading this, and as a white Australian married to a Zimbabwean of Zulu and Scottish heritage, I'm staying the hell out of Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

Lol

Anonymous said...

Do you mean segregation? You sound really racist to me.