I’m from Mississippi. The Sip! Crooked s’s and humpback p’s! The dirty dirty! I see trees and wonder if strange fruit ever hung from the limbs. (Watch Ms. Holiday sing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs) I see flat fields that stretch further than my eyes and brain can comprehend and wonder if any of my relatives ever worked them in the middle of August. (Have you ever been in Mississippi in August? Baby, it’s something serious. I wouldn’t have made it as a slave. The Lord knew what He was doing when He dropped me off in 1986). I defend my state when people say ignorant things about it, and I try to come back with a smart aleck response when the comments ring true. I ALWAYS wonder why Arkansans and Alabamians think their state is any cooler. I am proud to be a Mississippian. I was born in Texas but never claimed it as home . . . uhhh, cuz it’s not.
Now, with all this love in my heart for my state, I sure can’t wait to leave! I know, I know!! What a contradiction! But girl, (or guy) there isn’t much here to do. Can I get a mall? Can I get a Target? Can a sista get a Jason’s Deli? For people aged 23-43, the social scene isn’t really crackin. Not only is the social scene lacking, but the professional scene leaves a bit to be desired as well. What opportunities are here to make me want to stay? And please let’s not even talk about these uber conservative “can’t believe we have a black president, love my Rick Santorum, don’t think interracial marriage should be legal” backward thinking residents in my beloved state! Of course I have no problem with people who have different opinions; it’s what makes it interesting to be on Earth. But do I really have the strength to fight that fight everyday?
Time Out: Not all Mississippi towns/cities are lacking a mall/Target/Jason’s Deli. I realize this. Some towns are really fun. I also know that not all southerners are backward thinking. As a matter of fact, many more forward thinking individuals live here than most people realize. I’m just talking generally.
< – – – gots ta have it!
Ok, time in.
Who will stay if my friends and I don’t? That’s the question. Who will stay in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, etc and create new job opportunities or change the political status quo? Who will stay and raise another well-informed generation? Who is going to create programs for the disenfranchised, the poverty-stricken, the uneducated? I don’t know, boo, but it probably won’t be me. *cringed as I typed this*
Somebody has to! I keep telling myself that it’s not my fight. Helping to create a better Mississippi is not my calling. But is it? Like most other things in my life, I have yet to figure this one out. Maybe I’m supposed to get rich some place else and then pump some resources back into my state. Maybe I’m supposed to get super successful and then create a scholarship for Harvard grads to live and work in Mississippi. Or maybe I’m just supposed to stay my brown butt in Mississippi *sigh*
I don’t know (I think I say this far too often). I’ll figure it out though. For all you other southerners who have dreams of living the big city life, I challenge you to reconsider. I challenge you to at least explore opportunities right where you are because little southern towns need you. Ok, that’s all I have today.