Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Leaving Mississippi

By October 15, 2017, after 34 years of residency, I will be leaving the State of Mississippi. I have found love and I will be getting married. My soul mate lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area, so I will make the journey to be with her and enjoy my final days, however long that is, there.

It has been an incredible journey since I first set foot on the campus of Jackson State University in August of 1983. My matriculation at Jackson State laid the foundation for me to find myself, because self-identity is crucial, and understand comprehensively my calling to public service. My years on "The Yard" exposed me to so much of Mississippi, the Black Diaspora, and the rest of the world. It is one thing to grow up in the "The City of Big Shoulders"; it is another to become an adult in Mississippi.

The citizens of Mississippi have made me feel welcome. For nine years, I had the privilege of serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives, trying my best to do their will. I was given the opportunity twice to represent the Mississippi Democratic Party as their nominee for the United States Senate. I have enjoyed many family reunions, church services, picnics, parties, football games and mint tea/lemonade/beer/bourbon drinks. I've had the unique privilege of traveling through all 82 counties and speaking (and partying) at nearly all of the institutions of higher learning.

Most importantly, I became a father to a native Mississippian and he is developing into the most special young man any father could ever be proud of. That will be the toughest transition of all, being away from him, but being the hero he has always been to me, he has worked out a strategy that I will strictly adhere to, to ease that angst and stay involved in his life.

I have friends that I am leaving behind. People who have been a constant reminder of how good human beings can be. I will miss you greatly. However, as long as I have my right mind, I will always have the memories that will make me smile and remind me that Mississippi is a exceptional place.

There will be those that will probably be glad to see me go, for whatever reason. I have to accept that, because we have all come up short and not been our best with everyone. I have asked for forgiveness from them and from God for those times. Maybe the distance will make that happen eventually.

Nevertheless, when you have been blessed to live 52 years on this earth, the good outweighs the bad. I would not trade in my experience in Mississippi for anything in the world. My only hope is that, as history will judge, that my time was significant enough to help move this state forward in some small way. I wish I could have done more and learned more. I did learn how to survive here though, and that will be a quality that I can take with me to Atlanta, or anywhere else God leads me to be in the future.

I'm gonna miss going up Highway 49 seeing the cotton growing and being harvested. I'm gonna miss Walnut Hills and Mary Mahoney's, Doe's and Char, Smith's Downtown and Widemann's. I'm gonna miss hanging out at the casinos and playing Mississippi golf. But at least I know I'm only six hours away if get homesick.

Anyway, before I get too sentimental, I just wanted to thank the people of Mississippi for letting me be a part of the experience in the most hospitable of ways. Y'all have made me a better person and a more conscious human being. Take care for now and may God continue to bless y'all, strengthen y'all, and keep y'all in His favor always.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Still Altruistic

The narrowest of minds predicate political thought today. We have blind allegiance to political figures, cults of personalities if you will, rather than a true subscription to the ideals that define what America is. We degrade ourselves to make political points (Deplorables, 99percenters). Really?
Here is what I know. Most of the central figures in American politics are not Jimmy Stewart’s character in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Far from it. The obvious detachment of the Federal District from the other 50 states is painfully measurable. Therefore, it is more productive to have permanent interests than permanent friends.
The integrity of the United States Constitution must be upheld. That is not up for discussion or debate. We cannot advocate for fascist shortcuts to justice and fairness regardless of who is in power. This is why the role and presence of truly engaged citizens is important. It is not about grandstanding or creating controversy when there is none.
When the US Constitution is violated, people should fight against the violation. When the Constitution needs defending, people need to stand up for it, more so than the Flag or the National Anthem, because those symbols are hollow without the US Constitution.
If you think people are poison because they disagree with you politically, you don’t get it. If you think people that people are automatically racist because they don’t agree with you, you don’t get it. The ideal of America is that within the confines defined in the Preamble of the US Constitution, the preservation of liberty and promoting the general welfare. Everyday political leaders must make decisions based on that criteria alone, balancing those principles out. Any major imbalance between those principles leads to a stagnation of ideas in public policy.
Ignorance is a harsh word to use on people. Misinformed and stubborn may be less harsh. But either way it goes, name calling and insults, no matter who throws them, or how many social media likes you get for them, does not reach consensus. Our country grows with positive debate and positive discourse. If you think otherwise, then look at the decline of our national politics. Why haven’t we found a solution to limit unemployment? Why haven’t we adapted to be more competitive globally? Why are we struggling in education? Why do we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country in the world?
If your knee jerk reaction is to say liberals or conservatives, you’re both right and you’re both wrong. Nobody has a monopoly of good ideas, therefore nobody should have a monopoly of which voice should be heard. Good public policy is worked out, not force fed.
Another thought, everyone in the country feels disenfranchised. EVERYONE! Why is that? A deft lack of leadership. America is supposed to symbolize opportunity for everyone, period. When we have gotten to the place where everyone feels disenfranchised and they are blaming other disenfranchised people for their disenfranchisement, then you will have a long period of civil unrest. We cannot move forward that way. When an unarmed human being is gunned down by someone given the privilege to serve and protect us, we all should be bothered. A civil society is everyone’s responsibility. A safe society is everyone’s responsibility.
When a child is senselessly gunned down, everyone should be supportive of law enforcement to find the perpetrators.  Again, a civil society is everyone’s responsibility. A safe society is everyone’s responsibility.
Maybe one day, in the not-to-distant future, we may reach that mindset. Until then, we, the majority, have to navigate and move forward. I don’t have to agree with the President to be a patriot. But also as a patriot, I truly do not want to see the President fail.

I agree, I’m still altruistic. The America we live in is a long way from that society I envision. However, with hope still the high mark for which we press, maybe that which seems quixotic will become common logic, in due time.