Stop turning the Mississippi water crisis into a racial issue

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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In late August of this year, the Pearl River around Jackson, Mississippi flooded after severe storms hit the area. The local water treatment plant, already facing dire infrastructure problems, had to shut down, leaving 150,000 residents without access to safe drinking water. The water crisis has led to political debate about racial discrimination, since most of the residents in Jackson are black. Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker argues that political race-baiting is taking attention away from finding solutions to an urgent infrastructure problem.

Make no mistake, Jackson, Mississippi has experienced a crisis as many of their residents have long struggled to have access to safe and reliable water. Not only can they not drink the water – they can’t even use it to take a bath.

It is in times like this that communities must come together. Unfortunately, when the national media sees an opportunity to get involved, they and many of the leaders in charge will use a crisis such as this to divide us.

CNN wasted no time in publishing an op-ed stating that the endgame to Jackson’s water crisis is “Black death.” In a news article, they and everyone else have pointed out that the majority of the city’s population is Black, while the state legislature of Mississippi is majority white.

Nowhere do any of these “news” articles mention that the majority of Jackson’s city council is also Black, that not only their mayor is Black, but that they’ve had a Black mayor for the past 25 years.

But that’s not the point, as we cannot get lost in the media’s defining of a crisis by the color of each person’s skin. In fact, when discussing the future of his city upon his election in 2017, Jackson’s current mayor stated “it becomes greater than a question of color and more a question of ideas.” 

Now, unfortunately, those ideas were pretty radical. In that same interview, he stated he wanted to make Jackson the “most radical city on the planet,” and show what happens when progressives come together.

But even now, discussions of ideas for solving the current water crisis in Jackson is totally drowned out by messaging that furthers division, by politically motivated race-baiting that only cares about short term attention at the cost of long-term damage and division in our communities.

It’s the politics of the left that promotes the notion that what is relevant is the outside of a person, what he or she looks like, not what is going on inside the person.

Make no mistake, Jackson, Mississippi has experienced a crisis, as many of their residents have long struggled to have access to safe and reliable water. Not only can they not drink the water – they can’t even use it to take a bath.

It is in times like this that communities must come together. Unfortunately, when the national media sees an opportunity to get involved, they and many of the leaders in charge will use a crisis such as this to divide us.

CNN wasted no time in publishing an op-ed stating that the endgame to Jackson’s water crisis is “Black death.” In a news article, they and everyone else have pointed out that the majority of the city’s population is Black, while the state legislature of Mississippi is majority White.

Nowhere do any of these “news” articles mention that a majority of Jackson’s city council is Black, that not only their mayor is Black, but that they’ve had a Black mayor for the past 25 years.

But that’s not the point, as we cannot get lost in the media’s defining of a crisis by the color of each person’s skin. In fact, when discussing the future of his city upon his election in 2017, Jackson’s current mayor stated “it becomes greater than a question of color and more a question of ideas.” 

Now, unfortunately, those ideas were pretty radical. In that same interview, he stated he wanted to make Jackson the “most radical city on the planet,” and show what happens when progressives come together.

But even now, discussions of ideas for solving the current water crisis in Jackson is drowned out by messaging that furthers division, by politically motivated race baiting that only cares about short term attention at the cost of long-term damage and division in our communities.

It’s the politics of the left that promote the notion that what is relevant is the outside of a person, what he or she looks like, not what is going on inside the person.

Last year, while sitting in the Atlanta airport, a white gentleman approached me and struck up a conversation. He had politics on his mind, and seeing me, a Black woman, he was sure that he had found a kindred spirit to share his hopes that Democrats would prevail in the upcoming elections in Georgia.

I politely straightened him out, leaving him a bit in shock that he had incorrectly assumed that seeing the outside of me was sufficient information to know what is going on inside of me.

If we want to build a more perfect union, we need to believe that every person is unique and that what people look like tells you nothing about who they are.

Racism is about taking away, stealing from individuals their uniqueness and making predetermined judgments about who any individual is based on socially defined characteristics of the group to which they are assigned by liberals. 

Instead of getting lost in who is White and who is Black, let’s focus on getting the water back on for everyone. In Jackson Mississippi.


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