vol. 11 no. 04
October 3 - 9, 2012
JACKSONIAN TONJA MURPHY
ou can’t talk at them; you want them to be a part of the conversation that you’re having with them—about them.” Tonja Murphy is describing the parenting method she uses with her three children, Alexandria, 22; Gregory, 13; and Jordan, 12. Murphy, a single mother, is Jackson Public Schools’ “Parent of the Year,” and the after-school mentoring program coordinator at Rowan Middle School for Operation Shoestring, where she mentors both parents and children. Murphy provides some examples of bad dialogue and good dialogue. She advises not to say: “I told you not to do that” or ‘“why is that?” Instead, she suggests: “So tell me what you think about what you did.” After several years of working with nonprofits, Murphy says confidently that she will stay in that line of work. But that wasn’t always the case. Once she graduated from Murrah High School in 1991, she attended Jackson State University for a year, then moved to Hinds Community College, and eventually entered the career world in accounting as the director’s assistant for circulation at The Clarion Ledger in 1999. But she began to notice a pattern. When opportunities to contribute at community events and charities arose, she devoted copious amounts of her time and energy toward those causes. It came to a tipping point when, in 2006, she was offered a job at Habitat for
Humanity. However, with a family to provide for and a steady job already secured, she shied away from the opportunity. Fortunately, the job became available again a few months later and, in the interest of good health and a rewarding career, she seized it, resumed her studies at JSU and has never looked back. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences in 2008. Murphy’s mentoring has led her to some important discoveries about the function of human relationships. “Anybody who is successful had somebody in their life who took the time to encourage and educate them,” she says. She credits her sisters, Gale and Sharon, and her parents, Emma Robinson Dillard and the late Rev. Johnnie Robinson. Problems arise when generations neglect communication with each other. “Nobody just wakes up and says to themselves, ‘Hmm, I think I’m going to do something illegal today to support my family,’” she says. “Somebody at some time or another didn’t take the time to have a conversation with them.” This is why Murphy is adamant about “date night” with her two sons. She dedicates one night a week to relaxing and speaking candidly about the issues they encounter as they grow up. “Children understand when their parents are involved,” she says, “and when they know someone cares, that gives them the right to be the best they can be.” —Sam Suttle
Cover vintage poster, public domain More covers: jfp.ms/covers
11 JPS vs. the City
Superintendent Cedrick Gray is taking the city to court after the City Council refused to increase taxes to meet JPS’ proposed budget.
35 Moveable Feast
LurnyD’s Grille, a food truck serving gourmet burgers, is gearing up to open for business this month in downtown Jackson.
39 An Impossible Ideal
“No wonder we are a nation of eating disorders. If these bodies are ‘natural’ then, in addition to liposuction, so is anorexia and so is bulimia—all in an attempt to fulfill an impossible ideal.” —Jim Pathfinder Ewing, “The United States of Anorexia”
4 ..............................EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 .................................. BUSINESS 14 .................................. EDITORIAL 14 ................. EDITORIAL CARTOON 15 .................................... OPINION 17 ............................ COVER STORY 24 .............................. DIVERSIONS 26 .......................................... ARTS 26 ............................... JFP EVENTS 27 ....................................... 8 DAYS 30 ....................................... MUSIC 31 ......................... MUSIC LISTING 32 .......................................... FILM 33 ..................................... SPORTS 35 ......................................... FOOD 39 .............................. BODY/SOUL 41 .............................. ASTROLOGY 42 ............................................. FLY
COURTESY SHAPE; COURTESY LAUREN DAVIS; TRIP BURNS
OCTOBER 3 - 9, 2012 | VOL. 11 NO. 4
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Raising An Army
his past Monday night, I sat in an auditorium at Millsaps College packed with students—mostly female, but many males as well—and watched the documentary “Half the Sky.” It is the powerful film version of a book by the same name by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife and fellow journalist Sheryl WuDunn. “Half the Sky” is about the severe problems women face around the world. It is chilling, covering routine violence spanning from the sex trafficking and gang rape of toddlers in Cambodia to the routine rape of young women in Sierra Leone. Then, to add insult to horror, the victims are dispelled from their homes because they’re the ones who shamed their families—not the rapist (who is often a member of the family or a pastor or such). “Half the Sky” also explains the cycles of despair and poverty that often continues in the women’s children and grandchildren, and not just the females. The images of, for instance, the teen girl whose eye had been gouged out by the man who owned her in a brothel are horrifying— and makes an American realize that we complain about the wrong things so often (or as one student put it afterward, “we complain about having to get up for an 8 o’clock class). The film makes it clear that we Americans must be more engaged in what is happening to women around the globe (and sometimes as a result of globalization when it comes to sweatshops and working conditions). But here’s the thing. I may live in a very different world than the teen girl raped by her pastor in Sierra Leone, but there are disturbing parallels that tell us that the state of women everywhere needs serious work. As I’ve written about in the recent past, like that teen, I was raped by someone with perceived stature. I was held down. And I believe—probably rightly—that no one would
(a) believe me or (b) do something about it. Why? Because there is a horrific double standard right here in the United States: Men often get the wink-wink “boys will be boys” response while women are blamed for what we wear or, you know, for just being women. We are often presumed to be the guilty one until we’re proved innocent—when we’re actually the victims of violence and disrespect. Like in Sierra Leone, my rapist got away with it. Tragically, her father forced her and her mother out of the home because she tried to do something about it and made her rape public. Think for a moment about the men who blame the proverbial “ho” for their despicable anti-women talk or videos right here in Jackson for a parallel. How many young men (and women) are taught that women ask for rape with their actions and their dress? Or by dancing at a club? The talk at Millsaps wasn’t all about horrors against women and girls outside the United State. Carol Penick of The Women’s Fund stood up before and after the film and talked about the fact that Mississippi is routinely found to be the worst state in the United States to be a woman. Why? Because of our poverty; our antiquated laws about sexual assault, divorce and stalking (which are slowly improving thanks to amazing women’s advocates); our inadequate publiceducation system; our teen pregnancy rates; our poor systems of sex education; our lack of early childhood education; and more. But the reason they’re not considered priorities by state officials comes down to one thing: attitudes. We live in a state where few women are elected to public office and where very few women actually have public voices on issues that matter. For example, on The Clarion-Ledger’s front page you see a whole bunch of male blogger faces and no women; likewise, when is the last time you’ve seen a woman in pretty much any state media other
than the JFP write about serious political and policy issues? Most lawmakers at the state capitol don’t take women’s concerns seriously at all—and that includes members of both parties. They don’t want to lose a vote of some old white guy because they dare speak up about an issue that will help women and children (and thus everyone) because they might be conceived as too “liberal.” Just look at the last legislative term. Mississippi voters (especially women of both parties) spoke loud and clear last fall by rejecting “personhood” by a resounding margin. We came together over an effort (led by mostly men) that treated women like expendable second-class citizens. They tried to tell women that we can have an abortion even if our lives are in danger or if we’re a 13-year-old girl raped by our daddy. Oh, and we can’t have any kind of hormonal birth control, either. Women saw through that effort to control our health and our decisions. But the Legislature came back into session and, once again, used our rights as a political toy, trying to close the state’s only abortion clinic (although saying little about abortions performed in private doctor’s clinics on women who can afford them). Then this mess of a presidential election kicked in full force—and for some reason, many conservative men felt like they had permission to really let the women-hate fly in their efforts to pass laws to control all sorts of things we can do—and even want to allow our employers to tell us whether or not our insurance is welcome to pay for contraceptives. Ronni Mott’s cover package this issue lists many of these ridiculous quotes, showing how far backward we’ve gone from a time when being for or against abortion was the biggest issue. Now, it’s about whether or
not women should use birth control—and whether or not a particular politician thinks rape is “forcible” enough to actually qualify as rape. The good news is that, like last fall, women can find our voices. Even if we disagree on some issues, we can come together to demand that our needs are taken seriously—and to demand respect, and apologies, from men who behave like cavemen. It is vital that women find our voices and use them—and develop the kind of strength that doesn’t make us easy to shout down or take for granted. That’s where our attitudes come into play: We have to show that we will not take a war on women lying down. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in the film: We are fighting “deep cultural stereotypes about the worth of women.” Many men will continue to see us as lesser than them, or even as slaves and concubines, if we allow them to. Instead, we must invest in girls and women: failure to do so amounts to “planned poverty,” as the film teaches. The good news at Millsaps Monday night was that the film contained much hope. In each of the segments, we met grown women and teens who were rising to meet horrendous challenges. They were inspirational in how they were facing violence and poverty, determined to make something of themselves and change the cycle. And they were doing it with the help of other strong women spreading love and joy. After the film, students reacted with shock and determination. Sara del Castillo sat near the front in a Kappa Delta sweatshirt, her hair in a topknot. “We must generate our own army of people,” she suggested. She’s right. It’s time for women, and men who love and respect us, to raise our own army. We must fight a war for women. Comment at jfp.ms. Watch “Half the Sky” segments at jfp.ms/halfthesky.
October 3 - 9, 2012
Funmi “Queen” Franklin
Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. in 1997. She’s an award-wining writer and the JFP’s news editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She wrote the cover story.
Brian Johnson is the former managing editor of the Jackson Free Press. He is currently a science editor in Chicago where he lives with his wife and adorable son. He wrote a political film review.
Funmi “Queen” Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for sisterhood. She has a weakness for reality shows and her puppy, Shaka. She wrote a column.
Reporter Jacob Fuller is a former student at Ole Miss. When not reporting, he splits his time between playing music and photographing anything in sight. He covers the city for the JFP.
Tom Speed is a writer, amateur kazooist and peanut butter enthusiast. He co-founded the music magazine Honest Tune and has written for Paste, Blurt and Living Blues magazines. He lives in Oxford He wrote a music feature.
Manivanh Chansprasith is a Mississippi College grad student and a mother of two. Her roots go back to Laos, Arkansas and New Jersey. She can’t get enough of papaya salads and deep meditations. She wrote a food feature.
Advertising Designer Andrea Thomas is a native of Ridgeland and is a recent Antonelli College graduate. She loves to sing, dance and write poetry in her free time.
Executive Assistant Erica Crunkilton was raised in the Missouri Ozarks She migrated to Mississippi to attend Ole Miss and never left. She lives in Flowood with her fiancé with their two neurotic dogs and a kitten named Starbuck.
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WHAT WOMAN SHOULD RUN FOR OFFICE IN MISSISSIPPI?
Cheers to an Ally! I just finished reading â€œCome Out as an Allyâ€? (jfp.ms/lgbtally) in the Sept. 26 edition of the Jackson Free Press. As an out member of the LGBT community, I am so happy to see someone in the state taking a stand for the basic rights of LGBT citizens. I am new to Mississippi, so have been a bit cautious about being out. It gives me great hope to see articles like the column written by Emory Williamson. I expect that you will receive a letter or two (maybe more) suggesting that the article shouldnâ€™t have been printed, or that LGBT people are the cause of the evils that are happening in this country. Like most other LGBT people, I am just trying to do my job and contribute to society. I know that I still run the risk of discrimination at work, where I live, and the places I frequent. Knowing there are allies in the community who have my back helps me to feel safer. Thank you again for printing this piece! Lore M. Dickey Via email
October 3 - 9, 2012
This is inspiring. And takes guts, even in 2012. Congratulations Emory.
Youâ€™ve got amazing things ahead of you. I am really proud to know you and share a hometown and alma mater with you. mlindenberger Posted at jfp.ms Thank you, Emory Williamson, an example of what is good and progressive down in Mississippi. But this article also speaks in a larger sense to those in the Republican Party who profess not to be homophobic privately but stand by silently and enable their party to be run to appeal to the many homophobic bigots (a redundant term for the dunderheads who direct social policy for the GOP) in the partyâ€™s base. Enabling bigotry when one is not a bigot is even worse to me. It is cowardly. It is, moreover, a form of cultural appeasement. Kevin Sessums, NYC author, â€œMississippi Sissyâ€? (St. Martinâ€™s Press, 2007) Via Facebook As a Mississippian, this is inspiring to see, especially printed. Itâ€™s great to know there are people like Emory in this country and state. Brad Batson Via Facebook
Steve Monts: Cristen Hemmins--for her intelligence, humanity, style and class. And oh yeahâ€”sheâ€™s a fox as well! Eddie Outlaw: Lori Garrott because B*TCHES GET SH*T DONE! Tom Head: Colendula Green for mayor. Sharp, charismatic, and wellconnected. Nsombi Lambright would be a great voice to have in the legislature. Keisha Real Talk Varnell: I think Sandy Middleton. Sheâ€™s a firecracker and gogetter- people pay attention to her. Jill Butler: Laurie Bertram Roberts for councilman or legislator. Richard Perry: Jill Conner Browne sheâ€™s smart as a whip, she doesnâ€™t take sh*t from anybody, she uses humor effectively, sheâ€™s well-connected on both sides of the aisle, and sheâ€™s got the right values. Anne Scott Barrett: Cristen Hemmins and Donna Ladd. (Editorâ€™s Note: Ladd says NO!)
Charles Filhiol: Jill Butler for Governor, and Laurie Bertram Roberts for Lt. Governor. I donâ€™t know Cristen, but maybe she could be attorney general, if Jennifer R. James doesnâ€™t want the job. CJ Rhodes: I think Nsombi Lambright, Donna Ladd, Pam Shaw, Noel Didla ... Jay Pearson: Mayor Cheri Barry of Meridian for Lt. Gov. Casey Ann Hughes: Cristen Hemmins for any office she wants. Laurie Bertram Roberts: I would love to see Michelle Colon but I am sure Mississippi is not ready for her. Atlee Parks Breland: I want to see Lydia Quarles in office. We need her voice on the Supreme Court. Cristen Hemmins: Atlee Parks Breland needs to run for something! Sheâ€™s so on top of legislation, and I would think she was a lawyer if I didnâ€™t know she wasnâ€™t.
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Thursday, Sept. 27 Despite record droughts, the Department of Agriculture predicts higher-than-average farm income for 2012 from crop insurance. â€Ś A federal judge approves a $37.5 million settlement in a â€œtoxic FEMA trailerâ€? case. Friday, Sept. 28 One hundred eighteen inmates from the Mississippi Department of Corrections inmates receive educational and vocational diplomas at a ceremony. â€Ś During the broadcast of a high-speed car chase in Tonopah, Ariz., Fox News inadvertently airs live footage of the driver committing suicide. Saturday, Sept. 29 Mississippi Gaming Commission arrests three Mississippi Coast residents, alleging a scheme involving the exchange of counterfeit chips for cash. â€Ś Los Angeles County Sheriff finds himself under fire after the release of a report alleging misconduct and abuses. Sunday, Sept. 30 Severe weather in Stone County, Miss., tears the roof off a McHenry home. â€Ś NASA announces the completion of water-impact tests for the new Orion spacecraft.
October 3 - 9, 2012
Monday, Oct. 1 The 50-year anniversary of James Meredithâ€™s enrollment at the University of Mississippi is celebrated. â€Ś New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slaps JPMorgan Chase & Co. with a mortgage securities lawsuit.
Tuesday, Oct. 2 Entergy Nuclear locks union security personnel out of its Claiborne County plant and decides to replace them with non-union workers after union negotiations failed. â€Ś A Pennsylvania judge rules that new voter ID requirements will not take effect until after the Nov. 6 presidential election. Get breaking daily news at jfp.ms and jfpdaily.com. Subscribe free.
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Following the DHS Scanner Money by R.L. Nave
ississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the lobbying firm of former Gov. Haley Barbour have all benefitted from political donations from imaging giant Xerox, which holds the contract to manage the stateâ€™s controversial e-Childcare payment and tracking system. In September, the state agency that oversees several programs for low-income families, including the federal child-care subsidy, or certificate, program installed biometric finger scanners at 20 child-care centers in the Jackson metro. In order for the centers to get reimbursed by the state, parents and guardians must scan his or her finger when picking up or dropping off their child. DHSâ€™ move prompted a firestorm of complaints from child center directors who say the new system is wrought with problems and raises concerns about personal information security and privacy. â€œItâ€™s a headache, constant monitoring. You donâ€™t have time to do anything but monitor and make sure everyone is signed in,â€? Shirley Hampton, co-owner of Jamboree Child Development Center in Jackson, said last week. The switch also raised questions from Hampton and other providers about why DHS moved away from its previous computer system, implemented only in February 2012. Jill Dent, director of DHSâ€™ office for children and youth, told the Jackson Free Press that the agency is introducing new technology in phases that will help pare down the list of more than 8,000 children
waiting for subsidy assistance. Dent added that the agency is sensitive to concerns of parents and providers and stressed that the agency will not be capturing information about parents DHS doesnâ€™t already have in its databases. â€œWeâ€™re not putting it out for the public to see. Itâ€™s going to be very confidential and nobodyâ€™s going to be FILE PHOTO
Wednesday, Sept. 26 The Mississippi Department of Public Safety reverses an earlier decision and allows Robert Everhart to change the name on his driverâ€™s license after taking his wifeâ€™s last name. â€Ś Mitt Romney speaks on foreign aid at a forum presided over by President Bill Clinton.
Âą4HE TRUTH IS WOMEN RUN THE WORLD BUT MEN JUST DONÂ´T KNOW ITÂ˛
Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov.Tate Reeves and the lobbying firm of former Gov. Haley Barbour have all benefitted from political campaign donations from imaging giant Xerox.
able to see that,â€? Dent said. Xerox sent a letter to child-care providers in late July announcing the new childcare time and attendance program. The letter states that the new program requires the installation of new equipment, which comes at no cost to the provider. Also in-
MADISON MAYOR MARY HAWKINS BUTLER SURROUNDED BY: KNOWN FOR: COLLABORATORS: CURRY: CLASSIC QUOTE: FOCUSED ON: ASSOCIATED WITH: COMMENTS ON:
cluded in the 15-page packet were a provider agreement, a federal W-9 request for taxpayer-identification number form and a settlement authorization form. The settlement authorization form asks for providersâ€™ banking account and bank routing numbers in order to get paid. Dent said child-care providers had been clamoring for the state to offer direct deposit. â€œXerox is a national company and does a lot of corporate business. They are very careful,â€? Dent told the JFP in response to providersâ€™ worries about being forced to give their bank information to Xerox. Over the years, Xerox and its subsidiary, Affiliated Computer Systems, have banked millions of dollars in state contracts, including the agreement to manage the finger scanner program. An acquisition approval form dated Oct. 6, 2011, shows a contract between DHS and ACS that includes $1.7 million for 1,815 finger scanners and VeriFone machines that resemble credit-card readers, and another $12.8 million to service the equipment until 2017. In February 2011, the state of Mississippi contracted with ACS to handle the stateâ€™s EBT payments and child-support enforcement. According to an acqui-
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represent a substantial portion of Xeroxâ€™s annual revenues of $23 billion. To earn its government contracts, ACS has spent $3 million on lobbying and $7.1 million in direct contributions since 1990. Xerox has given $1.5 million in direct political contributions and spent $12.4 million lobbying since 1990. Of the lobbying firms ACS hired, $1.2 million since 2004 has gone to BGR Group, the government-affairs consulting and lobbying firm of which former Gov. Haley Barbour is a founder and partner. BGR stands for Barbour, Griffith and Rogers. The companies seem especially interested in Mississippi. In 2011, Xeroxâ€™s corporate political action committee donated $5,000 and $2,500 to the election campaigns of then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and then-Treasurer Tate Reeves, respectivelyâ€”two of the few state-level candidates to whom Xerox gave donations last year. David McMillin, a pricing and contracts consultant for Xerox, also gave $1,000 to Bryant, who now as governor has purview over state agencies. DHS will hold a public hearing on the e-Childcare finger scanners on Oct. 10 to gather comments. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Email R.L. Nave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sition form received Feb. 8, 2011, DHS, which also oversees child support collections, would also pay ACS up to $13.1 million over a five-year period, through January 2016. In all, since 2009, ACS has gotten approximately $23 million to administer Mississippi programs for the departments of revenue, transportation, human services as well as the Mississippi Tax Commission, according to state records. Meanwhile, $6.8 million has been paid to various Xerox vendors in the same period, records show. Based in Norwalk, Conn., Xerox holds the contracts to manage child-care tracking in 11 states, including Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. â€œ(E)ChildCare is saving states significant amounts of money by improving accuracy of attendance tracking and reducing inadvertent overpayments,â€? Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer A. Wasmer wrote in an email. Wasmer cites Oklahoma, where taxpayers have saved $120 million since November 2003 by switching to Xeroxâ€™s management system. Revenues from local and state contracts
TALK | elections
by Brian Johnson
to run off to fantasyland. Almost no one Dâ€™Souza interviews has met Obama, and none of those few knows him well. Dâ€™Souza interviews friends of Obamaâ€™s father in Kenya, but why would Obama share the views of people he doesnâ€™t even know? Dâ€™Souza applies the radical COURTESY OBAMAâ€™S AMERICA FOUNDATION
onservatives have been abuzz this year about â€œ2016: Obamaâ€™s America,â€? a documentary by Dinesh Dâ€™Souza, claiming to expose the â€œrealâ€? Barack Obama. So who is Obama really? According to Dâ€™Souza, he is a communist revolutionary consumed by the anticolonial passions of his Kenyan father. Dâ€™Souza presents his film as a stark warning. If voters make the wrong choice in November, the United States as we know it will disappear by 2016, replaced by a thirdworld dictatorship. As you may have guessed already, Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s film is one of the kookiest, most dishonest documentaries ever made. There are distortions and outright falsehoods in almost every minute. The central premise of the film is that Obama is secretly a communist who was shaped by Kenyan resistance to British rule. This is a disturbing claim that demands strong evidence, but the movie does not present any real evidence at all. The entire argument hangs on guilt by association and quotes taken out of context. Ultimately, Dâ€™Souza offers viewers little more than a quote from the end of Obamaâ€™s autobiography, â€œDreams From My Father.â€? Weeping at his fatherâ€™s grave, Obama makes peace with his father and forgives him for his flaws, which he recognizes in himself. It is a deeply personal passage about family and identity. For Dâ€™Souza, this passage signals that Obama shares every one of his fatherâ€™s beliefs, including an allegedly rabid anticolonialism. He is not discouraged by the fact that Obama met his father only once, when he was 10. It does not matter to him that Obama shared none of his fatherâ€™s experiences and first visited Kenya when he was nearly 30. Itâ€™s a bit like someone ascribing to you all the beliefs of a crazy aunt you met at only one family reunion. But thatâ€™s all Dâ€™Souza thinks he needs
Dinesh Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s documentary makes tenous connections between Obama and a myriad of global evils.
beliefs of nearly anyone loosely associated with the president. If any of Obamaâ€™s college professors believes a thing, Obama must believe it, too. If Obama ever read a book, he must agree with it completely. And if a family friend Obama knew as a teenager became a communist in the 1940s, that means Obama must be a communist, too. Guilty by association. Many parts of the film are laughable. Dâ€™Souza sees dark signs in every corner, including even office decor. He makes a great deal of Obama returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the British, for this supposedly
The Mississippi Witness Project (A Cancer Awareness Organization)
Invites You To The
8th Annual Pink Ribbon Gala October 3 - 9, 2012
October 6 â€˘ 7:00 p.m. â€˘ The Regency Hotel
Mistress of Ceremony Evelyn Reed â€œThe Jazzy DJâ€? Featuring the Jazz Lounge with Wanda â€œLady Jâ€? Music by Katrina Jefferson and 5th Element
For Tickets Call 601-576-7466 or 601-316-7091
signals rage at British colonialismâ€”although a nearly identical bust of Churchill remains in the White House. The other bust was only a loan, and the British always expected its return. In its place, the Oval Office now displays a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Obama clearly takes inspiration from Lincoln, who steered the country through troubled times. (Not to mention, Lincoln was actually an American.) If Dâ€™Souza is willing to misinform his audience about something so trivial, why would we trust him on anything else? The movie grows ever more unhinged as Dâ€™Souza claims that a second term for Obama will destroy the country. He warns that Obama has deliberately weakened America by reducing our nuclear stockpile to 1,500 warheads in the New START Treaty. Apparently, treaty supporters like Henry Kissinger and James Baker are also anticolonial communists if that is the standard. The film then claims that Obama plans to unilaterally dismantle the rest of our nuclear weapons, without reductions from any other country. Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s only evidence is that Obama hopes the world will one day be free of nuclear weapons. But Ronald Reagan said precisely the same thing. Neither Reagan nor Obama ever said that America should disarm unilaterally. Dâ€™Souza also claims that Obama has deliberately built up deficits to impoverish the U.S., so it will become a third-world country. He never confesses that the deficit stood at $1.2 trillion the day Obama took office. Even if Obama does not win re-election, deficits will fall by at least $200 billion under his administration, or about 25 percent as a percentage of GDP. By contrast, George W. Bush took us from a surplus in 2001 to a deficit of $1.2 trillion in his last year. The film tries to hide these facts by talking about the increase in deficits since 2000, conveniently blaming Obama for deficits that grew under Bush. Do Bushâ€™s deficits mean that he was secretly a communist intent on destroying
Fever Dreams of Obama
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America because of a troubled relationship with his father? It would be easy to go on about all the things this movie gets wrong, all the truth it buries, all the hilarious claims it makes. But you get the point. The truth is that there is no â€œrealâ€? Obama, no secret communist freedom fighter hiding within the completely ordinary Democrat on the surface. Conservatives are entirely free to dislike Obama and vote for Romney. But they should stick to the facts and criticize the policies Obama has actually enacted or proposed. Those who follow Dâ€™Souza off into the woods of paranoia and delusion do a disservice both to the country and to themselves. They harm the country by debasing our political discourse, which has been filled for years now with wild-eyed madness about birth certificates and FEMA camps. Frankly, they should be embarrassed by such kooky hogwash. But the conservative movement has become an echo chamber, where lies are held up as truth the liberal media tries to hide. Fortunately, most Americans are repulsed by extremist conspiracy theories, and they will never embrace an opposition that looks deranged. If Republicans hope to win national elections, they need to clean house, because folks like Dâ€™Souza do not deserve a place at the table. They belong out in the back yard, howling at the moon. Brian Johnson is an award-winning journalist and the former managing editor of the Jackson Free Press. He is now a science editor in Chicago. Comment at jfp.ms.
TALK | education
JPS Takes City to Court by Jacob D. Fuller
ment null and void, she responded like an attorney whose entire case rides on that one question. “That’s a question for the judge,” Turner said. Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. had little to say about the legal issue after the city council work session at City Hall Monday. He said he didn’t know much about it and that he cannot comment on ongoing legal affairs, but that he knew the process is just getting started. The school board and Superintendent Cedrick Gray presented its new $88.8 million budget to the council Aug. 20, at which time Council members requested JPS do all they can to reduce that budget. Johnson and sevSuperintendent Cedrick Gray is making waves early at JPS eral council members by taking the city to court over the Jackson City Council’s expressed frustration that refusal to increase property taxes to meet the school JPS did not send a repredistrict’s proposed budget. sentative to the meeting Sept. 14 to answer their $88.6 million budget that JPS first requested questions. Sherwin Johnson, JPS communiin August and that would require another 2 cations specialist, told the Jackson Free Press to 2.5 mill increase. after the meeting that Gray was out of town Mills are a way of assessing property and unable to attend. taxes. One mill is equal to about $10 in taxes “If this (increase) was important to on a house valued at $100,000. them, they should have had a representaThe Council rejected JPS’ latest bud- tive here,” Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret get because city attorneys said the school Barrett-Simon said at the meeting. district failed to give proper public notice of The approved JPS budget includes an the budget. JPS advertised the $86 million operational budget of $69 million, a debudget, including the possibility of a millage crease from last year’s $72.5 million. The increase, but failed to publicly advertise the additional money will go toward paying off $88.6 million budget, City Attorney Pieter a pair of bond issues JPS received in 2006 Teeuwissen said. and 2008 worth $150 million. The school JPS attorney Dorian Turner said the district owes $2.3 million on those bonds in district filed a bill of exceptions on Sept. 24, the upcoming year. which she said is any citizen or agency’s route During the Aug. 20 presentation to the to appealing a city council decision they be- city council, JPS board president Sharolyn lieve to be unlawful. She said it is her opinion Miller said the district needed the increase to that the district’s notice of the $86 million hire replacements for some of the 100 teachbudget is all the law requires. Further, state law ers who have left, to buy new textbooks and also requires that the city set the millage rate to to make school-bus improvements. meet the budget that the JPS board approves. JPS warned of legal actions to come “In regards to the millage, we do not almost immediately after the council’s Sept. believe the rate the Council approved Sept. 14 decision in a press release. 14 is sufficient to cover the JPS budget,” “We will monitor the funds received Turner told the Jackson Free Press. throughout the 2012-2013 school year. If Turner filed the case in Hinds County the funds are not generated at the requested Circuit Court on behalf of JPS. The case $88,897,985.28 level by the District, we will will come down to interpretation of the law, pursue all legal remedies that are available to Turner admitted. The question is whether ensure that the ad valorem taxes levied yield the judge believes the district’s original ad- the funds we need to operate the District as vertisement of the $86 million budget was required by State law,” the statement said. sufficient notice. When this reporter asked “This may include pursuing legal action or if the JPS board amending the budget af- the issuance of additional debt to cover any ter the notice makes the original advertise- resulting shortfall amounts.”
ackson Public Schools is taking the city to court over the City Council’s refusal to approve a millage rate to support the school district’s approved budget. The Council voted Sept. 14 to approve the school district’s original budget of $86 million and the 2.5-mill increase in property taxes it requires. It did not approve the
TALK | business
What’s the Harm in Drilling?
by R.L. Nave
COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
he battle over a proposal to open up natural gas exploration in Mississippi that has been raging for almost a year is shaping up to be another protracted showdown between environmentalists and boosters of fossil-fuel energy development in Mississippi. On Sept. 21 the Mississippi Development Authority, which formulated rules for how the state would conduct offshore gas and oil leasing, rejected drilling foes’ appeal to halt a lease sale from taking place. New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network and the Mississippi Sierra Club, which have been fighting to block the state from leasing state-controlled waters off the Mississippi Gulf Coast, say they will appeal MDA’s most recent decision to Hinds County Chancery Court. “People don’t come down here to be in an industrial zone,” Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs-based attorney who represents the environmental groups, told the Jackson Free Press last week. While natural gas is abundant, relatively cheap and clean compared to other sources of fossil fuels, state environmentalists have enumerated a number of economic and ecological concerns that serve as the basis for clawing tooth and nail to keep energy companies away from the Mississippi coast. Wiygul said MDA did not follow state law that requires an economic-impact statement. Under the statute, agencies proposing new rules or significant amendments—defined as costing more than $100,000 to comply with—must consider the rule’s economic impact. Earlier this year, MIT-trained engineer Jeffrey K. Bounds conducted an analysis that concluded that even if one in 20 visitors—5 percent—stay away from the Gulf Coast, the loss of state tourism revenue over the life of the reserve would amount to $168.5 million, wiping away the state’s anticipated revenues from sales of oil and gas leases. Louie Miller, executive director of the
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Environmentalists worry that a flurry of activity around drilling rigs could rival that of other ecological hazards, such as the Deepwater Horizon.
Mississippi Sierra Club, argues that MDA didn’t consider possible environmental threats in drafting its rules. He points to the potential for an hydrogen sulfide gas release and subsidence, or cratering, which can erode the coastline as reasons Gov. Phil Bryant should put the kibosh on coastal drilling. Colorless, flammable and carrying a rotten-egg stench, hydrogen sulfide occurs naturally in hydrocarbons such as crude oil and natural gas. Hydrogen sulfide’s danger lies in the fact that because the gas is heavier than air, it travels along the ground and may collect in low-lying enclosures such as basements and sewer lines. Besides the danger of combustion, the gas is an irritant and chemical asphyxiant, highly dangerous to people and pets. In low doses, the gas can irritate respiratory functions. High concentrations can cause convulsions and an inability to breathe, either of which could result in coma or death. During Hurricane Isaac, 5 million pounds of pollution seeped into the water and air, including 277 tons of sulfur dioxide
and 1,200 pounds of hydrogen sulfide from just one refining station. In Sept. 2007, such a gas release caused a halfdozen people to see a local doctor after they reported feeling ill. Just because the release appeared to be an isolated incident doesn’t mean cause for alarm does not exist, said the Gulf Restoration Network’s Mississippi organizer, Raleigh Hoke. “It doesn’t happen every summer. It doesn’t happen every year, but when it does, it’s certainly detrimental to human health,” Hoke said. In the event of a H2S release, emergency management officials tell people to remain in their homes with the windows and door closed, which isn’t an option for the hundreds of visitors to the barrier islands on a given day, Hoke added. Gulf Island National Seashores, a division of the National Parks Service, echoed the concerns of Miller and Hoke in its official comments to MDA on the drilling rules implementation. Evidence of drilling’s potential deterioration of the Mississippi coast-
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line can be found in neighboring Louisiana, Miller said. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University issued a 2003 report warning that portions of the Gulf Coast were dropping at an “alarming rate,” with the possibility that coastal Louisiana and Mississippi could lose up to one foot of elevation in the ensuing decade. Researchers at the University of New Orleans in 2009 determined that subsidence along the Louisiana Gulf Coast was the result of tectonic activity, sediment compaction, sediment loading, glacial isostatic adjustment, surface-water drainage and fluid withdrawal, which includes oil development. Of the five primary causes of subsidence, fluid withdrawal caused the most shrinkage, up to 23 millimeters per year. Brent Christensen, MDA’s executive director, wrote to Sierra Club attorney Wiygul that “fair and adequate consideration given to the comments of all interested persons, the economic-impact statements were adequate for the adoption of the rules and regulations, and the rules and regulations took into consideration the public trust.” MDA spokesman Dan Turner declined further comment on this story, citing the likelihood of litigation. Comment at www.jfp.ms. Contact R.L. Nave at email@example.com.
Want to DESIGN for the JFP and BOOM? October 3 - 9, 2012
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Romney: Not Presidential
hereâ€™s an old adage that says, â€œWhen someone shows you who they are, believe them.â€? If youâ€™ve been following the 2012 presidential election, youâ€™ve been inundated with sound bites. Each candidate wishes to impress upon you who he is and the reasons why he should be the one to lead us the next four years. As an independent voter who votes person, not party, itâ€™s become increasingly clear to me that Mitt Romney isnâ€™t the best choice. Yes, Romneyâ€™s business experience is impressive; as a businessman, I can respect his acumen. But from what Iâ€™ve seen and heard, thereâ€™s little â€œpresidentialâ€? about him. He doesnâ€™t strike me as a diplomat. His comments in London about the Olympics denote that, and his comments about China hammer that home. If those werenâ€™t enough, there are his hasty, ill-timed comments after a U.S. ambassador was assassinated in Libya. Romney doesnâ€™t strike me as compassionate. His comments about the â€œ47 percentâ€? at a private fundraising dinner show that. In fact, he doesnâ€™t strike me as having a bloody clue about what goes on with anyone not in his world. Nope, heâ€™s not â€œpresidential.â€? To me, he is simply an ambitious man who seeks an office to pad his resume. Heâ€™s been â€œrunning for presidentâ€? for nearly a decade. He is a wealthy man who has no idea how to act or connect with people who arenâ€™t in his tax bracket. He is a successful businessman who doesnâ€™t know much about foreign policy other than he thinks it should work like a Fortune 500 company. None of those things are bad, except that heâ€™s tried for a year to show us how he isnâ€™t any of those things. And that raises a red flag for me. Hereâ€™s a little advice, Republican Party, from an independent voter who recognizes that occasionally you guys do indeed have good ideas. Stop parading rich white guys in front of us. Start learning how the majority of America lives ... and works. Stop assuming that those of us who arenâ€™t rich white males are lazy and shiftless grifters who refuse to work. Stop letting guys like Todd Akin make stupid, inaccurate statements that alienate an entire demographic. Stop letting guys like Allen West represent the â€œBlack Republican voice.â€? Do I believe President Obama has shown us the â€œreal Barackâ€?? Doubt it. But Mitt Romneyâ€™s biggest faux pas was showing us exactly who he was and what kind of president he would make. And that guy wonâ€™t get my vote. And thatâ€™s the truth ... shonuff!
October 3 - 9, 2012
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Women: Grab a Chair
f thereâ€™s any doubt in your mind that the political War on Women is a reality, reading this weekâ€™s cover storyâ€”even browsing through the quotes and sidebars and graphsâ€”may change your mind. The conservative drive to overturn Roe v. Wade has, in the last several years, become an all-out assault on womenâ€™s reproductive rights. Lawmakers are blocking some bills designed to make life better for women and introducing others bills to limit womenâ€™s rights. The airwaves and Internet are awash in a flood of inaccurate reproductive informationâ€”from people who really should know better. Women in the political arena in Mississippiâ€”like women everywhere in the United Statesâ€”report good and bad news from the trenches. The good news is that the small numbers of women in politics are all fighters. They have to be. These are the women who are strong and bold enough to push their way into the proverbial smoky back rooms where the â€œrealâ€? decisions get made. We shouldnâ€™t be so foolish to believe, just because theyâ€™re now held in smokefree facilities, that the â€œmeetings before the meetingsâ€? donâ€™t happen every day, out of sight and out of mind of the majority of voters. The bad news is that women simply donâ€™t have the political numbers, yet, to swing politicians their way. Depending on the position, the percentages of women in office are be-
tween 8 percent for mayors of large cities to a high of around 24 percent in state legislatures nationwide. And those numbers have dropped or plateaued in the past few years. Linda Tarr-Whelan, in her book â€œWomen Lead the Way,â€? writes: â€œA sprinkling of women at the top, however inspirational, is not enough to change how companies or governments operate. The weight of cultural inertia is too great. But when the sprinkling grows until the leadership group is about one-third women, important things happen. Different decisions are made, and the move toward true parity in leadership gains momentum. If we can get to at least 30 percent women as partners at the power tables, we have a chance to change the world.â€? [emphasis ours]. Few with power will give it up willingly. To claim their rightful place, women have to be willing push their way, if necessary, to a seat the table. That isnâ€™t easy, but few worthwhile things in life simply get handed to people who want them. It takes work. Just being outraged isnâ€™t enough. Women must set aside their timidity to claim their power. If theyâ€™re not able to do that, they must be willing to give their support to women who canâ€”and the enlightened men who get it. For a seat at powerâ€™s crowded table, first understand why you want that place, and then be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.
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FUNMI “QUEEN” FRANKLIN Not Just a White Thing EDITORIAL News Editor Ronni Mott Features Editor Kathleen Morrison Mitchell Reporters Jacob Fuller, R.L. Nave Events Editor Latasha Willis Deputy Editor Briana Robinson Copy Editors Dustin Cardon, Molly Lehmuller Music Listings Editor Natalie Long Fashion Stylist Meredith Sullivan Writers Torsheta Bowen, Quita Bride, Marika Cackett, Richard Coupe, Scott Dennis Jim Pathfinder Ewing, Bryan Flynn, Garrad Lee Genevieve Legacy, Anita Modak-Truran, Larry Morrisey, Eddie Outlaw, Casey Purvis, Debbie Raddin, Julie Skipper, Kelly Bryan Smith Editorial Interns Elyane Alexander, Matthew Bolian Piko Ewoodzie,Whitney Menogan, Sam Suttle Victoria Sherwood, Dylan Watson Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Art Director Kristin Brenemen Advertising Designer Andrea Thomas Production Designer Latasha Willis Graphic Designer Eric Bennett Staff Photographer/Videographer Trip Burns Editorial Cartoonist Mike Day Photographers William Patrick Butler, Tate K. Nations, Jerrick Smith, Amile Wilson Graphic Design Intern Ariss King ADVERTISING SALES Sales Director Kimberly Griffin Advertising Coordinator Monique Davis Account Executive Stephanie Bowering BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS Executive Assistant Erica Crunkilton Bookkeeper Montroe Headd Distribution Manager Matt Heindl Distribution Avery Cahee, Raymond Carmeans, Jeff Cooper, Clint Dear, Jody Windham ONLINE Web Developer Matt Heindl Web Editor Dustin Cardon Multimedia Editor Trip Burns Web Producer Korey Harrion CONTACT US: Letters Editorial Queries Listings Advertising Publisher News tips Fashion
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Jackson Free Press P.O. Box 5067, Jackson, Miss., 39296 Editorial (601) 362-6121 Sales (601) 362-6121 Fax (601) 510-9019 Daily updates at jacksonfreepress.com The Jackson Free Press is the city’s award-winning, locally owned newsweekly, with 17,000 copies distributed in and around the Jackson metropolitan area every Wednesday. The Jackson Free Press is free for pick-up by readers; one copy per person, please. First-class subscriptions are available for $100 per year for postage and handling. The Jackson Free Press welcomes thoughtful opinions. The views expressed in this newspaper are not necessarily those of the publisher or management of Jackson Free Press Inc. © Copyright 2012 Jackson Free Press Inc. All Rights Reserved
’m not sure how many of my sisters truly understand that there is a War on Women happening right before our eyes. I have to question this because I often see white women on Facebook and at rallies joining together to make their voices heard (with a splattering of black female faces here and there). But I don’t see enough black women to convince me that we actually know what’s happening. Maybe we don’t care. Maybe we just don’t understand. I am now at the point where I pray daily for women’s rights. At the blink of an eye, we could easily wake up the day after the November elections and no longer have the right to decide what we want to do with our bodies. It’s just ridiculous that in 2012 we are still fighting for our feminine liberties. This election isn’t just about a Republican attack on the middle class. The party has placed us in an all-out fight for our rights as women! Women of all nationalities are at a dangerous place in history. Republicans are supporting legislation to lead us back to the Dark Ages—a time when women had no freedom of choice, and our voices held no value. I beg you to take some time and read about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s position on Planned Parenthood. They plan to stop its federal funding or, to put it plainly—get rid of it. This is not a “white thing.” This is a woman thing. Are we just inclined to let the next group of people stand in the trenches while we pray that they are successful? Has the face of this battle been given to white women when the blatant disrespect is aimed at all females? Some black women are lost in struggle every day. We are fighting on our jobs to prove that we are not all angry and disgruntled. We are fighting in our relationships to prove that we are valuable and lovable. So when called upon to fight for what doesn’t seem as pressing as making ends meet and feeding our children, the significance of the issue tends to fall between the cracks of our everyday lives. I’m sure many people think that there is no difference between the black woman’s existence and that of a white woman. That’s not true: White women have an advantage that black women can never possess: being born white. Deny it all you want. A group of white women standing in front of the capitol in protest is viewed as a group with something to say. If black women gathered for the same reason, we’d be looked at as a gang of angry black women shouting. As a matter
of fact we should be screaming louder than most because our rights will go first. The personhood issue, while it’s an attack on all women, was designed to affect women who can’t afford to have babies or abortions and women without access to information they need on birth control. Who do you think monopolizes the focus of these attacks? It’s not the white homemakers who show up at the capitol, form support organizations, meet with their friends over cocktails planning a course of action that will legitimize their efforts and who recognizes that there is power in numbers and in information. No, it’s women who live check-to-check and who get up every day with a strike against them just because they are black and female; who stay home with their children because they can’t afford day care; who work minimum-wage jobs because they don’t have experience or education to do better; who have not been afforded information on pregnancy prevention. Many believe everyone has access to cable and the Internet, but they are sadly mistaken. Our charge is to become educated about the issue and then to stand up for our rights. We can no longer fall under the radar, giving the impression that we don’t care about the laws being made to keep us silent. We have been complacent and unengaged long enough. Black women have an authentic voice birthed from struggle and pain. This voice is just as important as any man’s or white woman’s. It’s time we stop passing the buck and hoping that the creator has enough pity on us to let those who march and protest on our behalf win our battle for us. Black women prove daily that we are strong enough to endure the struggles of life. We prove our strength with eyes closed. Problem is, while our eyes are closed, we are missing the repeated jabs we endure from rich and powerful men. We must take a stand for ourselves and our daughters. We are believed to be uninterested, ignorant and irrelevant to the issues at hand. Wrong! It’s time that we support each other and our sisters of other ethnicities. Not just about personhood and abortion, either. We must stand together and demand respect on our jobs, in our community, in our homes, in our relationships. We must stand steadfast and dig deep enough to know and believe that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Funmi “Queen” Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for sisterhood.
We must take a stand for ourselves and our daughters.
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Mississippi Women in Politics by Ronni Mott
lyce Clarke remembers her first day at the Mississippi Capitol. It was 1985, and Clarke was the first African American woman to serve in the state Legislature. When she asked where the women’s rest room was, she was told the building had only one restroom for her. She and her women colleagues eventually remedied the situation. But even with access to more facilities, in those days, women frequently had to make long treks to other parts of the building. Clarke said one of her collºeagues would use a men’s room if necessary, shouting “woman in the hall!” as she entered. This year is Clarke’s 27th year serving the people of Jackson in the House of Representatives. She declined to give her age, but her iron-gray and silver hair gives a hint. She walks slowly with a cane, but age isn’t the problem: Clarke has been living with multiple sclerosis longer as she’s been in office, about 30 years. She prefers to define the MS acronym as “magnificent spirit,” and she believes her work keeps the worst of the debilitating disease at bay. “That might just be one of the things that keep you alive,” her doctor said when Clarke told him she was running for office. For Clarke, her years in office are on a continuum of caring for people. She’s the daughter of a teacher and a handyman who stressed the need for education in a world that was—and continues to be—harsh for
women and people of color. Instead of allowing their daughter to run off to Chicago after high school, Clarke’s parents insisted she go to college. She graduated from Alcorn State University in 1961, and went on to Tuskegee University for her master’s degree. Her degrees, in home economics and nutrition, might seem anachronistic, but for Clarke, they provided a laser-like focus into the issues women face: reproductive health, poverty, domestic violence, access to education and jobs, all complicated by race. The political landscape might have shifted in Mississippi, but in 2012, women are still struggling with the same issues. She Doesn’t Run Clarke believes that many of the problems women continue to face could be resolved if more women held elected positions, which stands at about 17 percent nationwide. Of 174 seats in the Mississippi Legislature, women hold 29—16.7 percent. “If we had more women, I think our state and our nation would be a much better place,” she said. “We take our time and really think about what it is that we’re doing.” Some of her female colleagues in the Mississippi Legislature may not agree. Sen. Deborah Jeanne Dawkins said she frequently shoots from the hip. “When I get pissed off, I tend to do something about it,” Dawkins said. Being “pissed off” is what got her into politics in the first place with her only previous position was president of her local Parent Teacher As-
Among the women in Mississippi politics are (above, left to right): state Rep. Adrienne Wooten, activist Atlee Breland, Rep. Alyce Clark, activist Cristen Hemmins, former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer and state Treasurer Lynn Fitch.
sociation. She never believed she would win. “I thought to myself, ‘I’ll just go on and qualify, and then somebody else will jump in, and then I can help them,’” she said. “But once I was in there, I was in it.” It was a different kind of pissed off that got Flonzie Brown-Wright into politics. In 1963, she was in Biloxi, when she heard the news of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers’ assassination in Jackson. “At this point, I knew I had to learn more about what was going on,” she said. Brown-Wright, now 70, began to attend civil-rights related events. Shortly after moving to Canton in 1964, Wright befriended civil-rights activist Annie Devine, who encouraged her new friend’s interest. In 1967, Devine convinced BrownWright to run for public office. The following year, she ran for and won the race for election commissioner in Madison County, becoming the first black woman in Mississippi to hold elected office. Dawkins entered the Mississippi Senate in 2000. She bemoaned the fact that those in power, especially in Mississippi, don’t even consider women for political office. “[M]ost first-time candidates are groomed and encouraged,” she said. “… In most instances, it’s a bunch of rich old white guys deciding … who will be their boy.” Men aren’t always the reason for low
numbers of women in politics. “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics,” a study released in January by the Women & Politics Institute at American University’s School of Public Affairs, identified seven reasons that women don’t run for office: 1. Women perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and biased against female candidates. 2. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin’s candidacies aggravated women’s perceptions of gender bias in the electoral arena. 3. Women are less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office. 4. Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident and more risk averse than their male counterparts. 5. Women react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns. 6. Women are less likely to receive suggestions to run for office—from anyone. 7. Women are still responsible for the majority of childcare and household tasks. The women who spoke to the Jackson Free Press confirmed the study’s premises. But not one of them believed they were reason enough not to get politically active.
Women, see page 18
COURTESY ADRIENNE WOOTEN; COURTESY ATLEE BREELAND; TRIP BURNS; COURTESY CRISTEN HEMMINS; XXXXX; COURTESY LYNN FITCH
women, from page 17 â€˜An Imperfect Lawâ€™ Nothing gets people fired up quicker than attempts to take away their rights. Over the past several years, Republican politicians have introduced hundreds of bills proposing limitations to womenâ€™s reproductive rights in the U.S. Congress and several state legislatures. In this state, last yearâ€™s personhood ballot initiative, which asked voters to declare that life begins at the moment of fertilization, lit a fire under many women, including Jackson computer programmer Atlee Breland and Oxford resident Cristen Hemmins, who helped stop the initiative from passing. â€œAll I set out to do was to put a little FAQ out on the Internet,â€? Breland, a founder of Parents Against Personhood, said. â€œâ€Ś That was going to be my contribution to humanity. It turned out to be a little bigger than I bargained for.â€? Even before the United States granted women the right to vote in 1920, religious and morally upstanding folk outlawed birth control in America. The U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 galvanized the forces opposed to abortion to wage a war to get the law overturned. Personhood is one salvo in their arsenal. At least six states and the U.S. House of Representatives have
tried to pass Personhood bills, but beginning with Mississippi, not one has passed. Itâ€™s doubtful that anyone believed Mississippi votersâ€”arguably the most conservative citizens in the most conservative stateâ€” would defeat the initiative, but thatâ€™s what happenedâ€”by a vote of 58-42. The vote hasnâ€™t stopped some state lawmakers from attempting to bypass voters. â€œI give them every credit for having sincere motivations. They feel that is what their religion calls for,â€? Breland said. â€œNot everybody, and not every Christian, feels that way. We all have different judgments about whatâ€™s acceptable. â€Ś Thatâ€™s the core of the issue.â€? Personhood is also not only about religion, and as Hemmins said, â€œItâ€™s not about free dadgum birth control. Itâ€™s about insurance companies covering medications that our doctors prescribe us,â€? which includes oral contraceptives used to treat painful conditions such as endometriosis. â€œI think people like (Gov.) Phil Bryant seriously think that voters were misled,â€? said Hemmins, the mother of three. â€œâ€Ś He personally said to me â€Ś â€˜Well, Iâ€™m sorry about what happened to you, but that baby has every right to life that you do.â€™ â€Ś They donâ€™t respect our vote.â€?
Heather McTeer, executive director of the Womenâ€™s Institute for Excellence at Mississippi Valley State University, believes that women candidates must reframe the abortion issue into one of reproductive rights, taking some heat off the word â€œabortion,â€? which is practically a curse word in this state. â€œItâ€™s talking about contraceptives; itâ€™s talking about decreasing the teen pregnancy rate; itâ€™s talking about how we save the taxpayerâ€™s money based upon being able to better help women define what are their own health needs,â€? she said. Clarke is concerned that the stateâ€™s last abortion clinic may shut down because of a law passed last year requiring doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. That means even if a woman is a victim of rape or incest, she will be unable to get an abortion in the state. â€œIâ€™m afraid that it will cause more people to do what women did years ago,â€? she said, referring to dangerous self-induced abortions and resorting to back-alley hacks. The legislator believes that recriminalizing abortion is misguided. â€œIâ€™ve been trying to eliminate abortions ever since I got here with sex education,â€? Clarke said. She sponsored the bill passed last year to allow abstinence-plus programs in schools. None of the
women who fought for that legislationâ€”including Clarkeâ€”believes it goes far enough. â€œWeâ€™re really happy that the law passed,â€? Carol Penick, executive director of the Jackson-based Womenâ€™s Fund, said cautiously. She added, â€œItâ€™s an imperfect law.â€? â€œ(Teenagers) have all these misconceptions,â€? she said, such as girl canâ€™t get pregnant if theyâ€™re on top during sex, or that chlorine kills sperm, so sex in a hot tub is safe. Among the changes Penick would like to see are making the program opt-out. Opting in is too easy for parents to ignore, she said. They can simply avoid making a decision and not deal with it. Opting out would require parents to make an active choice. She also wants to eliminate gender-separate classrooms that could strain an already underresourced public-school system with three classesâ€”one each for boys, girls and optouts. She said focusing on appropriate behaviorâ€”such as respecting â€œnoâ€?â€”is difficult in segregated classrooms. â€œSex education ... should be about relationships,â€? Penick said. â€˜Unexpected Excellenceâ€™ A conversation about womenâ€™s rights is incomplete if it only focuses on reproductive rights. It must include equality issues, such as
Republicansâ€™ 55 Blows to Women
epublicans in the 112th Congress have been almost unanimous in voting against bills that would strengthen the wellbeing of American women and in voting for bills that would restrict womenâ€™s rights. Hereâ€™s how their votes break down:
October 3 - 9, 2012
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Republicans blocked access to reproductive and maternal care services three times, LQFOXG
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YRWHVWREORFN(3$UHJX ODWLRQVWKDWZRXOGSURWHFW SUHJQDQWZRPHQDQG ZRPHQRIFKLOGEHDULQJ DJHIURPH[SRVXUHWR PHUFXU\DSRWHQWQHX URWR[LQWKDWSRVHVSDU WLFXODUULVNVWRWKHEUDLQ DQGQHUYRXVV\VWHPRI XQERUQFKLOGUHQ SOURCE: â€œTHE ANTI-WOMEN VOTING RECORD OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 112TH CONGRESSâ€? BY THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE, MINORITY STAFF, SEPTEMBER 2012
+ INDICATES A VOTE SUPPORTIVE OF AAUWâ€™S POSITION
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SOURCE: AAUW, CONGRESSIONAL VOTING RECORD
the multi-ethic group, many of whom have backgrounds of poverty. She strives to give them the â€œnuts and boltsâ€? of the workplace, including understanding how the media portrays women and how others may see them. Equality issues are about basic human rights for many women McTeer counsels. â€œItâ€™s very difficult for a woman in the Mississippi Delta to talk about equal pay when they donâ€™t have a job in the first place. The jobs that are available, either theyâ€™re not properly trained for, or theyâ€™re not aware of, or they canâ€™t make the link to itâ€? in other ways, she said. â€œâ€Ś People want to talk to them about â€˜you should be getting paid the same as your male counterparts,â€™ and theyâ€™re saying: â€˜Look. Just let me get paid. Give me something just to get a check.â€™â€? Politicians often overlook poverty when it comes to womenâ€™s rights. In the U.S., where 15.9 percent of all people lived in poverty in 2011, women and children top the statistics. Mississippiâ€™s rate of poverty is even higher: Recent statistics from the U.S. Census show that one in every four Mississippians live in povertyâ€”more than 744,000 people. Single motherhood is the most significant predictor of future poverty, said Marianne Hill, senior economist at the Center for Policy Research and Planning for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. In 2010, 42 percent of working mothers were the only job holder in the family in the state. Several factors play into poverty for woman with children, including a lack of policies for maternity and family leave, and few options for affordable, quality child care. â€œIf you look at the history of poverty ... the people who are always the poorest are single women with kids,â€? said Janice Brockley, associate professor of history at Jackson State University. â€œThis nation, for whatever reason, has always been very reluctant to invest for providing services and support for those women compared to other countries.â€? Equal pay for equal work also remains elusive. â€œThe pay gap is real,â€? wrote Linda D. Hallman, executive director of the American Association of University Women, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan advocate group, in â€œThe Simple
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â€˜Which is More Important?â€™ $ERUWLRQVPDNHXSÂłZHOORYHUSHUFHQWRI ZKDW3ODQQHG3DUHQWKRRGGRHVÂ´ For consultants in the private-prison Â˛6HQ-RQ.\O5$UL] industry, the numbers of children who arenâ€™t making it by third grade become the predictor for how many more cells prisons will need in the next 10 years. â€œA number of states take (lottery) money and Experts say that pre-K education, start- send the kids to college,â€? she said, and chaling with children at age 3, can break cycles lenges anyone to go to Louisiana and count of poverty and crime. Yet, Mississippi is one the Mississippi license plates at businesses of 11 states without a public program. selling tickets. â€œMississippians are playing the â€œWe donâ€™t have enough money (for lottery; weâ€™re just not getting the money.â€? pre-K education),â€? Clarke said, â€œbut we have McTeer tossed out this statistic: For evenough to incarcerate them.â€? ery $1 states put into early childhood educaâ€œWe canâ€™t afford a lot of things, yet (law- tion, they save $7 in prison and social benefit makers) still find a way to put the money costs. But education must also deal with the into (them),â€? Rep. Adrienne Wooten, D- current situation of teen motherhood. Hinds and Rankin, said. â€œItâ€™s called prioritizâ€œVery few of us who are focusing on the ing.â€? Wooten, 38 and a lawyer, has been in teenaged mother to train her and teach her the Mississippi House for five years. what she needs to do to ensure (her) childâ€™s â€œIs it more imsuccess early on in portant to try to deter life.â€? Part of her work crime by investing through her church more into our educais teaching young tional system so that mothers what they we donâ€™t have to keep should be doing for pumping money into their kids from birth the prison system?â€? to age 3. she asked. â€œWhich is more important?â€? â€˜Do It!â€™ State Treasurer Voters may Lynn Fitch, a Rechallenge women publican from Holly entering politics in Springs, agrees, and ways that they wonâ€™t she intends to make a confront men. That difference in the area. includes questioning â€œEducation is keyâ€? to a womanâ€™s compeWomenâ€™s Fund Executive Director the health of our econtency, questioning Carol Penick offers strength and comfort to another woman. omy, she said. â€œThose her personal and children become our family relations, and workforce.â€? She also asking questions they wants to introduce financial literacy classes would never ask men, such as â€œWhoâ€™s taking to schools. care of your kids?â€? Voters elected Fitch and Commissioner McTeer advocates solid preparation. of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde- â€œPeople will question everything,â€? she said. Smith last year in surprising victories over â€œThere are people who still think that GOP men considered the front runners. there are certain positions that women just They are the third and fourth Mississippi arenâ€™t ready for in Mississippi,â€? she said. women to hold statewide office. McTeer recalled a comment an older woman That short list contains former lieuten- made during her congressional race. ant governors Evelyn Gandy (1976 to 1980) â€œItâ€™s supposed to be congressmen, not and Amy Tuck (2000 to 2008). congresswomen,â€? the woman said. Sen. Dawkins is drafting a pre-K bill for â€œMy response to her was â€˜I hope that next yearâ€™s legislative session. Sheâ€™s under no one day, when your granddaughter or your illusions. Her opponents will say thereâ€™s no daughter is in a position, that youâ€™ll be able money for it, but sheâ€™ll propose it anyway. to call her congresswoman, and itâ€™ll be OK,â€? â€œThe infrastructure is already in place, so it McTeer said. wonâ€™t cost that much,â€? she said. Rep. Clarke is exploring a state lottery Women, see page 20 19 supplement the stateâ€™s education resources. COURTESY CAROL PENICK
equal pay, and education and opportunity. In 2004, when she was 27, McTeer became the first woman and the first African American mayor of Greenville, a position she held for eight years. In 2011, she ran for a spot in Congress in District 2. She lost that race to incumbent Rep. Bennie Thompson, but that hasnâ€™t stopped her activism. Today, she has a law practice and an educational consulting business for womenâ€™s issues, in addition to her work at Mississippi Valley. The Institute for Excellence is the brainchild of the universityâ€™s president, Donna H. Oliver, and focuses on leadership development and skills training for female students, preparing them for work. â€œThey have a lot of challenges,â€? McTeer said. â€œWe take it for granted that they know certain things, such as how to dress for an interview. There is a basic level of training we have to do.â€? She said the program promotes putting unlikely women in leadership positions. The theme this year is â€œUnexpected Excellence.â€? â€œWe look for the young ladies who arenâ€™t part of every organization,â€? she said of
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