Wednesday, March 8, 2017
For a long time, people have viewed the city of Jackson as a diamond in the rough. This diamond, which has yet to shine to its full potential, has waited for the right leader to scrub the dirt and gunk off the pressurized carbon so everyone else can awe at her beauty. As a former Jacksonian looking into the city from D.C. with a powerful set of binoculars, I can't help but ask myself, "What the hell is going on?"
As I peer from the sh*t show of Trump Play Land, I begin to scratch my head at my beloved state and city. The Mississippi State Legislature is increasingly losing its "good ole boy," Ross Barnett-worshiping mind. Recently, the Mississippi Senate voted 32-16 to approve a bill saying local governments and public colleges can't stop their employees from asking whether a person has entered the U.S. illegally and can't try to grant any special status to those who have entered illegally. Legislation like this openly promotes xenophobia during a time in which a large segment of the population will stop at nothing until xenophobic actions are normalized.
Then, in an effort for Mississippi State Republicans to further advance their "Christian values," the Mississippi House advanced a proposal to add a firing squad, electrocution and a gas chamber as execution methods, you know, in case a court decides to be "cowards" and block the use of lethal injection drugs. Luckily, a Mississippi State Senate panel removed the firing squad as a proposed execution option.
Lastly, in a quest to make Sheriff Bull Connor enthusiastic (a word like "enthusiastic" would've troubled simple Bull), the Mississippi Legislature passed "Back the Badge Act" and the "Blue, Red and Med Lives Matter Act." I am all for pro-police reform legislation, especially helping those who are actually risking their lives to protect and serve, but why must these legislative acts only have a unilateral agenda? Where is legislation in Mississippi that protects or even promotes the protection of folks from police brutality? Looking from my brown eyes and black skin, passing legislation that makes an attack on police officers a hate crime while calling said legislation Blue Lives Matter without promoting the safety of black lives is like urinating on the dead black corpses who represent the Black Lives Matter movement and calling it piss.
Driving through the streets of Jackson is like driving through the streets of Berlin, Germany. And when I say Berlin, I mean 1945, bomb-riddled Berlin. In a city that already had to make sacrifices in an attempt to balance the budget, where does the City of Jackson find the money to fix the crumbling infrastructure? The City proposed to borrow $90 million for infrastructure repair. On its face, this seems like an awful idea for a place that is having a very hard time managing $90, let alone $90 million; however what choice do they really have? On his Facebook page, Councilmen Melvin Priester Jr. did an excellent job explaining that the citizens of Jackson shouldn't take the $90 million borrowed at face value, saying, "If you think what's about to happen is that $90 million will be sitting in Jackson's bank account ready to be wasted with no oversight, you're wrong."
As a Jackson native, if it weren't for some of the city council members, including Mr. Priester, I would've advised anyone listening to escape the city of Jackson faster than I can yell "Cheeto" when walking past the White House every morning.
I write harsh words directed toward the Jackson and the state of Mississippi because it comes from a place of honesty and love. I love where I'm from, and I know that one day it won't be the laughing stock of the South to anyone who hasn't been to Jackson and Mississippi and witnessed her beauty first hand. All I request is for the State of Mississippi to look forward and for the City of Jackson to have basic essentials like drivable roads and usable water.
Is that too much to ask?
Leslie McLemore II, a Jackson native, is now in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Jackson State University, North Carolina Central University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law.