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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Civil War = Barry Bonds?

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2011 at 9:43 am

What a combination. What a week. April 12 marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and a year ago, Mississippi’s and Virginia’s Governors Haley Barbour and Bob McDonnell were caught in the middle of a civil war proclamation controversy: seemingly, the issue of slavery and race were ignored. Recently, McDonnell received “positive response” for his condemnation of slavery in the revised proclamation. On April 10, 2011, Barbour stated “Slavery was the primary, central, cause of secession. The Civil War was necessary to bring about the abolition of slavery. Abolishing slavery was morally imperative and necessary, and it’s regrettable that it took the Civil War to do it. But it did.”

And on a day after former MLB star Barry Bonds was found guilty of an obstruction of justice charge, the minor of the felony indictments, the issue of race bubbles to the surface. While watching my morning addition of Mike and Mike in the Morning, several callers referenced race as the primary culprit for the government bringing charges against Bonds. Author and journalist Bill Rhoden believed “The trial of Barry Bonds has always been more than a simple case of pursuing a bad guy and proving that he lied.”

The complexities of race continue to be a sore and blind spot some 150 years later. Race is a challenging concept to grasp, the dynamics are so difficult that I believe at times we shy away from the probing questions–those questions that could lead to greater discussions rather than attacks on the other. We all have reason to celebrate; attend a reenactment, and yes, understand that we may disagree on the causes of the Civil War and the causes of the Barry Bonds trial, but race continues to be the sensitive subject that we all try to either ignore, explain away, or deal with it only with certain conditions. We all are one and intricately tied to the other, and for race to continue to divide us, well, is a travesty.

Advice to Live By

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

Terry McMillan’s Advice to Aspiring Writers can also be used for the non-writers alike.

Advice #2: “Try not to read, revise or rewrite what you’ve written until you’ve had a chance to let it simmer.” This can be applied to all of us: simply put, when the emotions run deep, think twice before you speak or communicate, for those words, no matter the medium, you have to stand by. I try my hardest to live by this, and I fall short because the emotions sometimes get in the way. And then I ask myself, do I really want to stand by the words that flew off my fingertips or tongue? Most likely not; or perhaps yes, but maybe the tone should have been checked prior to the words reaching the receiver. And before you know it, the proverbial line in the sand is drawn–how do you come back from that?

As Clarion Ledger’s Editorial Director David Hampton says, “Republican leaders made redistricting a line-in-the-sand issue. The GOP wants to control the House speaker’s position to put a lock on the legislative branch. The party also wants to be in control of the Legislature for congressional redistricting, which lawmakers will tackle next year.”

Advice #5: “Write about what frightens you. What you find perplexing. Disturbing. What breaks your heart. And what you wish you could change.” As Hampton says Democrats are to blame as well. And this leaves many nervous: from school districts to county supervisors and I could continue. The fear of the unknown, especially now, is perhaps too great a price for our legislators to take now because their political lives or elections are quickly approaching. A good friend of mine says, “they [legislators] punted to protect themselves.” So while redistricting may be fearful, frightening, or just difficult to deal with, the tough decisions in the end have to be made.

Advice #13: “You have to have conflict in your story. Even fairy tales and cartoons have them.” And so a little conflict and even complexity is what life is about. So when I speak those words out of fear, fright, or just plain ol’ rejection, let it simmer, think twice. But because a difference of opinions leads to a little conflict, that shouldn’t be the end of relationships. Hopefully, our legislators will recognize that as well. That a little conflict, which in my mind’s eye equates pluralism, leads to diversity of opinions and views. And yes, conflict will arise. But it is how we deal with that conflict that marks the courage of a woman or man. I am issuing a challenge to myself and to my legislators: the future is today, so let’s seize the moment.

What’s Your Legacy?

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

“I don’t know how to explain it, but I am blessed.” This came from my very precocious younger cousin when I asked how he was doing. Immediately my response was, “Wow, that was truly a mature look on life.” He has been through a little adversity as well as his family. He understands what struggle means, albeit a little early for my liking. But as another precocious friend of mine reminded me “that’s life.” And that is life indeed. While I was away on a business trip to my home county, Benton County, MS made news for having the highest STI (sexually transmitted infections) rates than any other county in the nation. Then a few days later, the Mississippi Department of Health released a statement saying the statistics were incorrectly reported. Memphis ABC 24 combined the statistics of Marshall and Benton Counties, “creating a false increase in Chlamydia cases and rates in Benton County. A coding mistake led to the
inaccurate submission of data to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and was included in this year’s County Health Rankings Report for 2008 released last week by the RWJF [Robert Wood Johnson Foundation]. The MSDH has been working with the CDC to correct the report for 2008.”

While the statistics may have been inaccurate, the problem remains access to health care, lack of education, and poverty. The STI, obesity, high school dropout, and unemployment rates still hover over the small County like a dark cloud. And this life is the life I don’t want my precocious cousin to grow up in; this life is not the life I want my home to experience; this life is not the life I want anyone to have to realize. And I challenge myself and you to get up, speak up and out, and move to educate, make a difference, even if that may be one person then that one person’s life has been changed for the better—thus changing the course of life for that individual and future generations. And so, there’s joy, there’s a legacy to be set. Just as these statistics garnered national attention and have left a legacy (and a stigma) that will be difficult for the County to walk away from, then too can a positive benefit or legacy be made. And it starts with me, it starts with you, this affects us all. While this may be a Benton County problem, while this may be a Northeast Mississippi problem, while this may be a Mississippi problem, this is a national/global issue. And the fight to save the generations behind us is on. I have no choice but to sign up to reverse these trends, and I hope you will do the same.