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Help in Mississippi: We still have hate

This weekend the movie, “The Help” opened across the nation. This movie is based on the service of Black women in White households in Mississippi. As this movie was preparing to make its national debut an incident in Mississippi from June 25th of this year finally made the national news. On June 25th a young man committed vehicular homicide. The young man is White and the victim was a Black man. The accused is quoted as saying “Let’s go mess with some niggers” on the night he committed the murder of the Black man. A Facebook discussion has erupted over the incident pitting friends of the accused against members of the Black community who see this as another day in Mississippi. As I read the posts on the matter, I thought how sad for Mississippi to not be able to break free of its past because of the continued hate in its present.

The posts to my amazement centered not so much on the murdering aspect of the incident or how to mitigate such actions in the future but as to whether or not the incident was a hate crime. (My view: if you say, “Let’s mess with some niggers” and then you kill a Black person, you were operating under the guise of hate.)

One argument was why if a Black person kills a White person is it not called a hate crime. Southern Whites pointed to the crimes of Blacks against Whites not labeled hate crimes. My view is if the Black person stated “Let’s mess with some White people” and then kills a White person that Black person has committed a hate crime. Many of the crimes committed by person(s) of color are crimes of opportunity rather than hate crimes.

Another argument came from someone who claims to know the accused and his family. Her statement over and over again was the accused and his family were not racist; they have Black friends. My response is so what? As in the movie, The Help, Black women ran the households for the White housewives but were still considered to be inferior to Whites. I require a better argument especially in light of my knowing families in Mississippi who are teaching racist philosophy to their children. I have been in public many times when a small White child says something about “nigger”.

Finally, I am more appalled by the lack of a call to do something to mitigate the situation. The death of this Black man is not the first in recent years that could be classified as a hate crime. A young Black male was killed by a member of law enforcement 3 years ago under very suspicious circumstances. That story unlike this one did not make the national news (this story made national 45 days after being local news). The governor of Mississippi should be at the forefront of a call for action instead of praying the story will just go away. The people of Mississippi need to call for action beyond a stiffer penalty for the accuse. As long as Mississippi tolerates hate crimes the true genius and beauty of Mississippi will continue to be hidden behind current legacy of hate.


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