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Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

“If Frederick…”

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

These two words started an interesting journey for Gwinnett County, Georgia parents and children. As one parent acknowledged, the word questions demonstrated that “racists” still exist. Gwinnett County schools spokesperson Sloan Roach stated that “the teachers were trying to do a cross-curricular activity…We understand that there are concerns about these questions, and we agree that these questions were not appropriate.” Teaching about race requires teaching about a subject that we, all of us, have yet to properly situate.

Race may make some of us uncomfortable, some of us may think we dwell on the topic too much, some of us may be apathetic toward race, and still, race, better yet racism, is implied or outright demonstrated almost daily. That being the case, how do we introduce notions of healing and inclusiveness without evoking the bad spirits of old? I think Mississippi may use Gwinnett County as a “what not to do” guide. In 2006 Mississippi passed a law that mandates every history course from K-12 to teach civil rights history year-round. William Winter Institute’s Director Dr. Susan Glisson acknowledged that students should learn more than the “‘savior narrative” of “Rosa (Parks) sat down, Martin stood up and now everyone is free.'”

Specifically, Glisson says the 2006 law focuses on the average citizen who used grassroots organizing to challenge the old status quo, the old guard, the old Mississippi. Vestiges of the old may still exist, but as former Governor William Winter noted at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast at Mississippi State University, civil rights pioneers like a Medgar Evers helped to release all of us from a cultural and social prison–segregation. When speaking to Myrlie Evers, Governor Winter recalled “I said to her, ‘We white folks owe as much to your husband as black folks do. He freed us…We were all prisoners of the system. We were not able to move freely or speak freely or do a lot of things we’d like to have done, because of an oppressive society and fanatical segregation.”

For Mississippi, when we see the future, what does it look like? Where are its children? Can we do more than “just get along,” as Rodney King famously called for, to actually getting along through healing, dialogues, and forgiveness?

Do You Wonder?

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm

This new year has been filled with many uncertainties, perhaps enough to last a whole year. Can Tim Tebow truly play quarterback? How far can he lead the Broncos? Is his style of play sustainable? What about the GOP nomination? Can Ron Paul pull off the unthinkable? So many questions, so many answers.

Do not let me forget our resolutions, you know those, more times than not, empty promises we make to ourselves to improve our lives in one or more areas, be it in health, religion, or finances–the list of resolutions could go on for days.

As for me, I gave up on setting resolutions years ago. I have friends and family who set them, and actually the resoultions set the tone for them over the course of the year. In a way, our New Year’s resolutions are ways for each one of us to set the agenda, just like policymaking. Those who set the agenda are likely to be highly influential or powerful people. For Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant, the year has started out with a tremendous bang, whereby the tone, a rather controversial tone, was set by outgoing Governor Haley Barbour.

Governor Barbour’s last official acts in office have come in question, as he pardoned over 200 individuals, with some of these individuals receiving a full and unconditional pardon for murder and manslaughter. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has petitioned a Hinds County Circuit Court to halt the immediate release of many of these individuals; to which the court agreed to an immediate injunction and stated that Governor Barbour may have violated the Mississippi Constitution by not providing proper notice to the public.

The tone has been set. Governor Phil Bryant is stepping into an intense spotlight. Further, Governor Barbour’s actions have many thinking of curbing this executive power. Governor Barbour’s resolutions, in this case, was to pardon individuals “to allow them to find gainful employment or acquire professional licenses as well as hunt and vote.”
And his resolution, as controversial as it is, makes us wonder about the laws allowing executives broad authority; makes us wonder whether the three branches of government are co-equal; makes us wonder…