OPINION: In political and economic terms, the question for Black Mississippians today is, ‘where are we headed?’

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Each day more bad news, or at least threatening news, issues from the news media, the legislature, college and school boards, and other sources. Some observers proclaim many white state leaders are determined to take the state back to the prominent Jim Crow days of the 1890s to 1960s. 

Despite all of this, or in the face of that, there is much evidence Black Mississippians are continuing to live as if things will improve by osmosis and that it does not require any different efforts on their part. 

Along that line, as can be seen, many middle-income Black people, along with their white counterparts, continue fleeing from Jackson, as if running from a plague. The same can be seen across the Mississippi delta, where the majority of Black people reside. 

If these trends continue, Black people will lose even more political power and more land, which is the basis of economic growth and development. They will continue helping create poverty-stricken regions of Black people. 

If Black people do not sincerely adopt a policy of buying in their community and from one another, wealth will continue to migrate elsewhere. 

For example, each time a Jackson dollar is spent in Rankin County, Jackson residents are helping that county to grow and finance more “goon squads.” They are helping to improve Rankin County schools to the detriment of Jackson’s schools. 

Remaining in or returning to Jackson will help increase Jackson’s tax base, enabling it to improve or increase services to its residents. The same logic can be applied to any other area.

If Black people do not develop the working unity to stop and/or vote out of office those officials who undertake efforts to render Black municipalities powerless – without the ability to fully function – places like Jackson, Greenville, Yazoo City, and McComb will soon find themselves municipalities in name only. Their residents will be virtually disfranchised when it comes to the ability to elect the individuals who control their revenues and services. 

The moves to take control of Jackson’s water and sewage systems and the Medgar Evers airport are just two examples of the trend. Nothing can protect Natchez, Belzoni, or other such areas, if and when the state legislature decides to move against them too.

If Black people do not come together to defend initiatives such as “diversity, equity, and inclusion” and critical race theory, or such rights as academic freedom and freedom of speech, education will quickly become a thing of the past for them. The same is true regarding the idea of reparations and the protection of so-called entitlement programs.

In order to maximize their effectiveness, alumni associations must unite to help each others schools whenever they are in trouble, not waiting until their own school has been threatened. The NAACP and other civil rights organizations must be willing to unite and coordinate their activities rather than just carrying out their individual programs. 

Every group and every individual that claims to be or desires to be considered as Black and progressive must find ways and means to unite with others when there are initiatives designed to protect and/or liberate Black people.

It is certainly time now for Black groups and individuals hoping to remain a part of the struggle to stop being quiet. They are all in the same boat and will hear the music sooner or later, either with others or alone.

Finally, progressive activists should also be on the alert for progressives in other communities – Latin, Native, White, and Asian – who are enlightened and committed enough to joining in Black-led efforts designed to advance democracy and their group interests. History has shown, on more than one occasion, such alliances have helped all concerned. 

The cautions are that there has to be enough conversing and enough observations for all to “realize” what they have in common and what are the most effective ways to unite, without believing that they can be united in everything.

The ideas of freedom, democracy, and progress in Mississippi are not going to come automatically. They require effort, united effort, and committed effort. 

This then returns us to the original question: “To where are Black Mississippians headed, if they continue to flee from their own communities, if they continue to economically support competing communities, if they do not unite to protect their municipalities, and if they do not unite to protect and advance academic/intellectual initiatives?”

It is a question from which none can hide. It must be honestly answered day by day, instance by instance. In the absence of their taking positive action, we already know the answer. 

If Black people continue in the same pattern of behavior, the answer to where are we headed is, “absolutely nowhere.” 

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

OPINION: In political and economic terms, the question for Black Mississippians today is, ‘where are we headed?’

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
March 25, 2024