I choose…

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Peyton to the Broncos. Tebow to the Jets. Saints, for their role in “Bounty Gate”– banned coaches, fines, and loss of draft picks; and St. Louis Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, who held the same position with the Saints during their Super Bowl win, has been indefinitely suspended (or as one of my dear friends calls it, Williams has been “Pete Rosed!”). Whew, I am tired. Too much for this woman to take. Aside from the late-great Reggie White, Peyton Manning is my favorite football player (tied of course with Ray Lewis) and all this change has me uncomfortable and scrambling for some stability, but I am nonetheless excited about the upcoming NFL season for multiple reasons, chiefly because of the reasons I just discussed.

Change is probably the one thing I have come to accept is constant. Change. What a novel concept that packs a mighty punch. Change can be good and not so good, simultaneously. Change can be ignored; change can occur overnight; change can lead to a crisis. Change can bring peace, tear down walls that once separated a people; change can bring about new ideas and concepts; change can carry a new and welcoming tune.

In the past two weeks, I have witnessed change in varying aspects, some good, others not so much. But personal and professional, change has challenged me to inquire, dig deeper, to find a more substantive meaning to IT all. I was very fortunate to experience a revival of change in the Mississippi Delta last week. The Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, the Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development (my employer), and the History department at Mississippi State University co-sponsored an alternative spring break experiential learning opportunity for students to work in and learn about the Mississippi Delta. I was asked to conduct a facilitative dialogue on expectations, race, and the history of the Delta in comparison to the film The Help. I think I was prepared for every possible question one could imagine–what I was not prepared for: the students challenged me beyond my wildest expectations. After I returned from my time with them, I immediately updated my facebook status, as such: “‘I will lift my head in spite of adversity.’–Byron Cage. Sometimes we miss opportunities to celebrate the successes of Mississippi…sometimes it becomes too difficult to see beyond the adversities and challenges. But tonight I saw our present and our future, and it is very bright. Big ups to the Alternative Spring team for making a positive, sustained impact across this state.”

These missed opportunities can be missed because we are resistant or hesitant to change and the challenges they inevitably bring. The Mississippi that I know we are–the Mississippi that chooses an empowering, healing four letter word (LOVE) over hate–I believe in a Mississippi that refuses to succumb to the seed of Jim Crow, I believe in a better now and future. Today is a struggle, as I type these words, knowing that Mississippi’s first hate crime conviction (since the passing of that law) occurred today–I refuse to submit to the hate and I hope you do too. I see the bright and prosperous future as demonstrated during that spring break experience–students from Mumbai, Brazil, South Korea, China, white, Asian, black Americans all agreeing, disagreeing, agreeing to disagree, yet doing so peacefully, respectfully; but most importantly, doing so knowing that change spurred such a moment.


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