Mississippians getting a bad reputation

By NIKKI ROWELL,

In my short life, I’ve done a fair bit of traveling. 

In my experience, it never fails that when the people I meet along the way ask me where I’m from, they almost always gawk. 

My response is typically met with several questions centering on stereotypes about the state I call home, followed by me clarifying that we do in fact wear shoes, that people here do receive a quality education and that not everyone from the “Hospitality State” is closed-minded and racist. 

I like to tell people who ask these questions that while Mississippi is last in a lot of things, Mississippi is one of the nation’s poorest states and is also one of the nation’s highest in charitable giving. 

I feel like that fact better shows the heart of so many of the people I call neighbors.

However, the news following the Senate race between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy has been so disheartening. 

After the comments about public hangings and suppressing voters from Hyde-Smith emerged, she still won the election. It seems the nation has gotten confirmation of those stereotypes about my home, mainly from the fact that these things did not deter voters from choosing her.

Recently, a photo has emerged from a 2014 Facebook post made by Hyde-Smith. 

In the photo, she was wearing confederate garb and holding a Civil War rifle with a caption that read, “Mississippi history at its best!”

The photo was posted in 2014. Let that sink in.

 

Mississippi is infamous for its past. A terrible past that includes lynching, segregation and a hard-fought battle for civil rights.

But that’s the thing. We don’t have to live in the past.

Our state’s history doesn’t have to determine our future. And it’s a shame when the people in government that we trust to hold power in our state don’t represent all of their constituency. 

I can say, in my short time working as a journalist, I’ve gotten the chance to see a bit of what makes Mississippi what it is.

I’ve gotten to meet parents of children with rare diseases fighting for awareness to bring a cure; people who don’t have much but still give to those in need; teachers who work tirelessly to do everything they can for their students; and local government officials that go out of their way to do what’s right for the residents of their respective cities. 

Those people and their stories are what should be remembered as “Mississippi history at its best.”

And I would like to see a candidate who represents that resilient, loving, giving spirit that I associate with the people here. 

The world is watching as a majority of the residents of Mississippi have confirmed what others think about all of us who call this place home.

Mississippi, we must do better. 

Nikki Rowell is a Northside Sun staff writer.