Tuesday, November 28, 2006

100 White Men?

An anonymous writer brings it home...

To clarify a point for readers---and Sis from Seattle: The newspaper did not label the lawmakers as "black." This is the label of their own choosing. Not all segregation begins and ends with the white man.

Imagine a headline that read "White Lawmakers Convene." Or Hispanic Lawmakers or Asian Lawmakers, etc. How would that make sense?

100 Black Men. Miss Black America. BTV. As long as black Americans want to be considered ONLY black as a priority over their status as Americans, then they will always seem to be struggling for acceptance. My ancestry is Scotch-Irish. Yet I do not label myself as such, nor do I feel the need to make the constant reference to my "homeland."

I am an American.

This writer drives the point home! How long would a group named "100 White Men" survive in the Mississippi Delta?

Question... can white females join "100 Black Men", and if not, how would they refuse them? "I'm sorry Ma'am, but we only allow black men in our club"? Any employer who made such a statement to a job applicant would spend the rest of his/her natural life in court.

So, why is it that the only color we are allowed to "discriminate" is black? Sociologists maintain that the "pendulum of life" has to swing just as far to the left as it does to the right in order to maintain balance. I don't disagree with this theory, but I think in 2006, the Delta should be getting pretty darn near close to plumb!


Sunday, November 26, 2006


As my Sunday ritual dictates, I arose to seek fresh coffee and the local Sunday newspaper. The only difference being that today, I had to share my DDT (and coffee of course) with my sister who was visiting me from Seattle, WA.

Being a gentleman, I offered my sister the front page of the Delta Democrat Times, (hoping that it would not offer some horrid tale of child abduction or a "Conoco caper"). She silently perused the front page for a few minutes and then quietly asked, "What are black lawmakers?" She paused and went on to read me the headline, "Mississippi hosts conference of black lawmakers".

Being from the Delta, the headline didn't seem unusual or ambiguous to me... at least until I tried to answer her question. Before I could utter a reply, my sister sharply inquired, "Should I assume that black lawmakers are those who make black laws?" I had to smile a bit at this, knowing where this conversation was probably going.

All I could get out was "Well, no...", before she folded the paper, removed her eyeglasses, glanced up at me and proclaimed, "It appears that Mississippi has made little progress over the past 100 years. Why is it that everything has to be labeled 'black' in the south?" A bit dumbfounded at first, I quickly realized where Sis was going with this debate... the problem was, I couldn't answer her question.

Several hours later, after my sister had departed for the airport, I had time to reflect on the essence of our conversation. It dawned on me that she was actually appalled at the term "black" lawmakers!

I picked up the DDT and stared at the headline and a question came to me. How would replacing the word "black" in this headline with any other adjective (such as white, Hispanic, gay/lesbian, Catholic, agnostic or HIV+) affect its newsworthiness? Better yet, why not leave out all racial, ethnic and cultural descriptors and simply boast that Mississippi will host national lawmakers?

Why? Because we are still a very segregated society for all of our strides toward equality. I think that my sister's indignity was that we still use labels, such as "black" to differentiate each other. Are the political issues of health care and housing restricted to "black" Americans? Are the plagues of poverty and inflation exclusive to the "black" population in our country?

Here's the real issue. By distinguishing "black" lawmakers, we imply that they are in some way "different". Isn't that what we implied in the 1950's with the designations of "White" and "Colored" restrooms, water fountains, schools, building entrances and restaurants?

At this moment, my sister's indignity hit me square in the face. As long as we label groups by their racial, cultural or spiritual beliefs, we are asserting some inequality... otherwise there would be no reason to differentiate. So why, in 2006, do we still see black and white?

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I got to see one of my favorite classic movies, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". In it, the gifted actor Sidney Poitier angrily addresses his father over personal views stating, "that the difference between you and me Dad, is that you see yourself as a black man; I see myself as a man".

Before the movie's end, even Spencer Tracey, a die-hard liberal of the printed word, nods to himself in acceptance of true racial equality in our society, and quietly mutters, "I'll be a son-of-a-bitch!"

Well, Sis... I guess I will be too!


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Just a Dog Catcher...

Almost every job that you apply for these days involves some type of criminal background check. Health care leads the industry by actually fingerprinting all applicants. In our high-tech world in which a person's actual identity can be stolen, I think knowing if you are hiring a convicted felon is relevant information... particularly if you working for state or local government.

I am a bit peeved at Mayor Hudson's recent defense of the city employee whose criminal past was exposed. She actually defended the city's policy of not screening applicant's criminal histories, stating that, "everyone deserves a second chance." Okay, I can agree with that, but what about the hundreds of law abiding citizens who are seeking jobs in Greenville that haven't had the first chance, let alone served time?

I think that the mayor's "head in the sand" approach to this issue is dangerous. Any employer who requires drug screens and criminal histories knows that there is a large population of undesirables in our fair city. For our city leaders to ignore this fact puts us all at great risk.

I once asked the leader of one of the biggest employers in Greenville why his organization did not conduct random drugs screens on employees. His response was that he would probably lose a third of his current staff. Duhhhh?

Should convicted criminals be given a "second chance"? Sure, right after all non-criminals have been eliminated as viable candidates for those jobs. I think you went a little too far left on this one, Heather.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The "Color" of Money

"Local Reflector" writes:

The water issue doesn't necessarily involve those who've lived in Greenville and understand what the tint is all about - prehistoric sediment. The issue is about recruiting all those businesses and industry and getting some jobs in the area.

Every recruiting effort conducted by industrial recruiters or companies interviewing for out-of-town employees isn't concluded without checking out the place. If, in the hotel, the water is obviously brown, these short term visitors don't have the luxury of a full explanation of the water; they chalk it up as dirty water and return home to tell everyone.

Yes, it seems trivial on some levels but I dealt with the same problem with my out-of-town guests. In this day and age, clear water is an expectation so I cannot understand how some can feel they're losing a cultural contribution by ridding the municipal water supply of a brown tint. By the way, very few other cities would accept such regardless of explanations or excuses.

Good Job Greenville Leaders!

I have to agree with LR on this one. Most people interpret "brown" as dirty and I am sure the majority of visitors to Greenville are not reassured by the "rotting leaves" fable, however prehistoric.

Clearing the water would do a great deal to make Greenville more marketable to industry as well as to instill a bit of pride in those of us who choose to remain in the Delta. I say "Go for it, Greenville!" We have nothing to lose but the stains of our past.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Favor of Local Flavor

Anonymous writes:

I told one of my (grown) children yesterday that the city was looking into removing the color from our water. His response was, "I hope it will still taste as good." My family would rather drink Greenville water than any beverage on this earth.

Actually, I know of an ex-Greenvillian who requests family and friends to bring gallon jugs of our brown water when visiting. He claims that it makes the best iced tea in the world.

Perhaps we could capitalize on our murky water. NYC tap water is actually bottled and sold in stores for $3.50 per bottle. In Rome, you can purchase "holy water" for $12.00 per ounce. Surely, we could get a couple of bucks for "Blues Water".


Friday, November 10, 2006

Mystique of the Delta

Could clear water be the key to Greenville's economic future? According to some, it could have a significant impact. Imagine drawing a glass of tap water and being able to see through the glass, or sitting in a bathtub and being able to see your legs!

As native Deltan's, we have become acustomed to our ice water resembling weak tea, but some visitors are simply appalled by our "local color". One of the first questions visitors ask me is, "What is wrong with the water?" I politely explain that our brown water is the result of "prehistoric biological sediments that have seeped into our wellspring feeders".... at least that's the rhetoric that I was raised on. Most simply shake their head and express their relief that we don't simply pump it directly out of the river.

In my travels, I find that Greenville is almost world renowned for two very memorable experiences. One is a eating a steak at Doe's Eat Place and the other... bathing in brown water! The latter is certainly not a drawing card, but quite memorable none the less.

So, is our water safe? We are told that it is, but who among us does not use water filers and/or bottled water... just to be sure. The Delta is well known for its filtering of all things obscure... its water included.

Perhaps the mystique and uniqueness of the Delta lies in its murky water. Cleansing ourselves of our "prehistoric sediments" may be a major step toward our economic progress as a community and may even land us squarely in the middle of the 21st century!