Is this the new Jim Crow?
By Izayah Morgan
White representatives in the Mississippi state house approved a bill to create a new district that would include all of Jackson's majority-white neighborhoods. This was passed despite the fact that the capital city is largely Black individuals. From the U.S census it was polled that Jackson is around a 83% Black population.
Two supervising judges will be chosen by the Mississippi Supreme Court's white conservative chief justice - its prosecutors and public defenders will be chosen by the state's white Republican attorney general. Policing will be enforced by a white police chief and be under the supervision of a white public safety commissioner.
The Black majority will have no vote in the matter. This means it is all left up to officials in the Mississippi government who are white to make the decisions of a majority Black city.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba had choice words for state lawmakers and the bill passed. “It reminds me of apartheid,” Lumumba said Monday. “They are looking to colonize Jackson, not only in terms of them putting their military force over Jackson, but also dictating who has province over decision-making.”
Black leaders and the community of Jackson as whole has been pushing back on this for a while.
This feels as if it is a force over the citizens making explicit decisions for them. Having a small white majority - that is naturally segregated from the rest of the city - making decisions of policing and justice for a largely Black majority is wrong.
Not to mention Mississippi has a very long history of racial moments to put it gently. Its long and controversial history started with plantations and slavery. Then, after the Civil War when Black people were “free,” the state of Mississippi went on to create Black codes which segregated the newly “freed” citizens.
Throughout the 1900s Mississippi was known to be one of the most violent states for Black people. The state was known for having Ku Klux Klan members who terrorized African American communities. This included public lynchings of all ages, bombing of their homes, destruction of their comunties, and assassinations of public leaders.
The Civil Rights Movement lasted between the 1950s and the 1960s and brought attention to the racial injustices. This time period had many activists such as Medgar Wiley Evers who had challenged these racist and inequitable ideas. However, this eventually led to his assassination for speaking out on these issues.
Despite the racial strides that the Civil Rights Era was able to help prosper, Mississippi continued to face racism and inequality for decades. These issues included police brutality, discrimination in the justice system, medical malpractice, and mass incarceration.
Mississippi has undoubtedly had controversy throughout the history of this country. Laws such as this with even the mayor having his fair share to say about this bill passing is interesting to say the least.
The legacy of racism in Mississippi will continue to be a complex issue and laws such as this one only further set us back.