October 31 - November 6, 2012
JACKSONIAN FRANK FIGGERS
n the NAACP office on Lynch Street, Frank Figgers sits in the lobby, wearing Clubmaster Readers glasses. He is a thirdgeneration Jacksonian, and the third generation of his family to live in the same neighborhood, near the intersection of Pocahontas Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. “My grandmother and grandfather, on my father’s side, and my wife’s grandmother and grandfather, on her father’s side, resided in the same neighborhood,” he says. “My grandfather had a good year sharecropping, and he invested his good year in land and settled there. In turn, he divided his land among his children. My father didn’t use his portion, so when my wife and I married, he gave it to us.” Figgers and his wife, Laura, met when they were 9 years old, and were “on and off with each other” until they married in August 1975. Growing up, Figgers went to Holy Ghost Catholic School, and his wife attended local public schools, graduating from Lanier High School. “We were always comparing notes and lessons, between public and private school,” Figgers, 62, says. “When we went to college, she went to Jackson State and I, Tougaloo. We both majored in sociology. So we were again comparing notes.” They graduated from their respective colleges in 1972. At Tougaloo, Figgers worked part-time for the Jackson Human Rights Project. One of the projects “arms,” as Figgers calls it, was
the Georgetown Liberation School, which later changed its name to the Georgetown Black and Proud School and, ultimately, the Black and Proud Elementary School. The school originated as an after-school program and, over the course of several years, developed into a state-accredited elementary school. “[It] was started by a group of parents that was concerned about the education of their children when everybody knew that the schools were going to be integrated. So one year, they (the opponents of integration) were fighting for the schools not to be integrated, not to allow black children to attend white schools. … The parents were concerned, you know, if you’re fighting against me this year, when my child comes there, what kind of education are they going to receive?” Former civil-rights workers and teachers staffed the school, which had a standard elementary school curriculum, with the addition of a black studies program. “There wasn’t a lot of money in that kind of work,” Figgers says. “So I also worked at an office and school supply company called Southern Supply and Sales, and I worked there until 1980.” Figgers worked several other positions throughout the years, before retiring as an architectural product specialist. He also served as election commissioner of District 3 from 1996 to 2004, responsible for hiring, selecting and training poll workers. —Dylan Watson
Cover illustration by Mike Day
8 Lauderdale’s Disdain for Children The U.S. Department of Justice has sued Lauderdale County and various people and departments within for injustices against youth.
27 Collecting Moments
“I was really looking for, initially, things that artists had already done. Things that were tucked away, sketches, incidentals. My thought was that these are moments between artists, colleagues, friends that are very non-self-conscious. There’s no pressure of commission or exhibit or exhibition of these pieces. So I was really thrilled to find a lot of works that were done over the past 20 years.” —David Lambert, curator of “Artists by Artists” exhibit
32 Everything We Hoped For
7evenThirty’s recently released “Heaven’s Computer,” a concept album that follows the exploits of a space traveler, reasserts the rapper’s raw talent.
4 ..............................EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 .................................. BUSINESS 14 .................................. EDITORIAL 14 ................. EDITORIAL CARTOON 15 .................................... OPINION 17 ............................ COVER STORY 27 .............................. DIVERSIONS 28 ....................................... 8 DAYS 30 ............................... JFP EVENTS 31 .......................................... FILM 32 ....................................... MUSIC 33 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 34 ..................................... SPORTS 35 ...... BEST OF JACKSON BALLOT 37 .............................. BODY/SOUL 39 ......................................... FOOD 41 .............................. ASTROLOGY 42 ............................ ELECTION FLY
KEN PATTERSON; TRIP BURNS; MELISSA WEBSTER
OCTOBER 31 - NOVEMBER 6, 2012 | VOL. 11 NO. 8
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
The Deal With a Racist Devil
any of us have been there. We’re having a political debate over rising national debt or the merits of “Obamacare,” and suddenly we hurl over a bizarre cliff: We hear that President Obama used ACORN to steal the election, that he’s making it easier for freeloaders to get welfare or the zinger: “He is not a Christian. He was born in Kenya.” Before we know it, we are whiplashed into the middle of an alternative birther universe, where easily verifiable facts are ignored. For me, these moments blind me with memories of growing up in Mississippi, listening to racial slurs and innuendo about “them” that made no moral or Christian sense from extended family and their friends (not my immediate family, thank God). I would always get up and leave. I walked out of my Mississippi State boyfriend’s family living room in North Jackson because his uncle greeted the news that I’m from Neshoba County with approval: “Well, y’all know what to do with your n*ggers that act up, don’t ya? You just bury them under a dam!” Blinded with shock, I got up and left. His mother never forgave me. That slur, of course, was arguably more obvious than today’s birther myth. Or is it? I mean, who gets to spread rumors that a long-time Christian church-goer (who cares a ton about the needy) isn’t actually a Christian—as if they could possibly know? But now we seem to be going backward, not forward, on race and other bigotry issues. Ten years ago, maybe even four years ago, I thought the nation was farther along than we are on the road to racial understanding and acceptance. I remember going to a so-called Klan rally over in Neshoba County, my home county known for our violent race past, not long after moving back here. It was absurd, with a handful of KKKers in a muscle truck with a woman in a rebel flag tank top as their spokeswoman.
They marched around the court square and about everyone there had shown up to shout them down: “Go home!” “Idiots!” I was really proud of my hometown that day. Now we have reports—such as recent one by ABC News—of angry Klansmen growing in popularity in Mississippi and around the nation. I get disgusting emails from the John Birch Society, still yammering about the U.N. And there is no much open racism on conservative blogs right here in Jackson that it makes my toes curl (by, inevitably, men too cowardly to use their real names, but racists often hide under hoods, masks and pseudonyms, after all.) Then last week, the co-chairman of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, John Sununu, made a horribly bigoted statement about Colin Powell, and he wasn’t fired the next day. It’s worse than it was when we started the paper 10 years ago. The reason is obvious if we pay attention. Many people spreading baseless rumors they see on nasty blogs aren’t trying to be mean or hateful; they think they’re right because people they agree with on other issues or go to church with believe it, too. There’s no need to check it out; besides, any source that says something else is obviously “biased.” People are passing along hateful lies and bigotry because they are very purposely being lied to. I’ve written often about the Republican “southern strategy” that Richard Nixon and then Ronald Reagan and even the first George Bush adopted to get people they perceived to be white racists to go along with policies that helped the rich, if not most of the presumed racists. Their strategists—including the late Lee Atwater and his sidekick, our own Haley Barbour—convinced them to court the old Dixiecrat voters who fled the Democratic Party in the 1960s after it supported civilrights legislation to end legal segregation and Jim Crow policies. In essence, the GOP
made a deal with the racist devil to get support for government shrinkage—meaning of the kinds of laws and regulations that could have kept more manufacturing and jobs in the U.S. and Americans working—as well as tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy. They also went after these voters with wedge issues like being against abortion and gay rights—at least in public. To get it done, the new not-Lincolnesque GOP rejected the more blatant racism of the Dixiecrats in favor of wink-wink racism—such as attacking “welfare mothers” (falsely presumed to be overwhelmingly black and single); food stamps (same wrong assumption); “entitlements” (ditto); and crime hysteria (the “super-predator” myth spread by Reagan drug czar Bill Bennett and the first George Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad). (These days, politicos refer to winkwink racism as “dog whistling.”) The Republican Party, which used to be the preferred party of black Americans before the 1960s, has nearly cracked under the weight of this burden. It has become an exclusive club with a weird mix of corporate barons (and those who’d love to be), abject racists and “values voters.” It has seen a sad descent with its potential membership shrinking as younger voters and just about every non-white rejects the party. South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham said it well at this year’s Republican National Convention when he warned that there just aren’t that many more “angry white guys” to lure into the party, so they’d better change their ways. Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman even apologized to the NAACP in 2005 for using the southern race strategy, saying, “it’s not healthy for our country.” If anything, now it’s worse—and the kinds of false ideas about the “other” is empowering fringe groups like the new Klan in Mississippi to believe they can attract enough membership to raise real hell again against
non-whites. (Remember: The Klan always emerged out of more mainstream bigotry; not the other way around.) And dangerous agitators like neo-con Dinesh D’Souza write books like “The End of Racism” (1996) to convince us that talking about racism is actually racist. Then he does a film in 2012 (“2016: Obama’s America”) to convince the gullible that Barack Obama is actually acting on behalf of the Muslim father he met once. Then there are men like Mitt Romney and John Sununu. Are they racist? Clearly. Racism is always about what you do and the “system” you support and whether it systemically hurts an ethnic group that already lacks real equality and equal access to opportunity. The legacy of our nation’s racism has not yet been reversed—precisely because white men like these do not want to risk losing some of their own power and wealth, regardless of how they got it or who suffered as a result. This campaign has pulled out the race stops and turned the U.S. backward in a way that even George W. Bush wouldn’t do. Both Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan lied repeatedly, for instance, about Obama changing the work rules for welfare (he didn’t), and Sununu has gone out repeatedly and made race-charged statements. The latest—that Gen. Powell endorsed Obama because he’s black—appeals to the worst instincts of some white Americans, whom these men assume are majority racist. Why else would Powell have endorsed Obama!?! Sigh. Sununu could not know what is in Powell’s mind any more than our own family or friends (or D’Souza) could know if Obama secretly pines to be Muslim. But leaders from a shrinking lily-white party do know that some people want to believe that black people are as race-obsessed as they are. It is up to white Americans to end this ugly ruse right here. Please stop voting against your best interests because some Republicans assume you’re racist. Prove them wrong.
October 31 - November 6, 2012
Kathleen M. Mitchell
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. He wrote the cover story.
Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. She’s an awardwinning writer and the JFP’s news editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She helped coordinate the cover package.
At the “Hindsonian” at Hinds Community College, Mike Day won top cartoonist awards from the Mississippi Press Association and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in New York. Mike drew the cover graphic.
Editorial Intern Dylan Watson is from Indianola. He is a senior at Millsaps College, where he studies political science. Dylan wrote the Jacksonian and contributed to the cover package.
Garrad Lee is a graduate of Jackson State University and currently teaches history at a community college. He grew up in south Jackson, but now lives in Fondren with his wife, dog and cat.
Features Editor Kathleen Mitchell is a Millsaps College graduate. She is hoping for four more years, and possibly four more beers as well, this election season. She wrote the arts feature and shopped for FLY.
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, among others. Tom wrote a music feature.
Design intern Terrence Jones is a recent graduate of Hinds Community College. When he isn’t interning at the JFP, he freelances design work. Call him at 601-667-8090 or email terrence.jones42606@ go.hindscc.edu.
ACLU of MS Voter Information! There is no PHOTO VOTER ID REQUIREMENT!
You do not have to show photo identification to vote unless it is your first time voting and you registered by mail. Persons with disabilities may ask for assistance to vote. Some felony convictions do not impede your right to vote. Be cautious of rumors overheard while standing in line, as they may be designed to intimidate you. Locate your polling location and the hours before you go to vote. Review the sample ballot before you cast your vote. If you experience problems exercising your right to vote, call 1-888-354-ACLU immediately.
In Mississippi, the ACLU has been on the forefront of protecting the right to vote, especially for the poor and for people of color whose right to vote historically has been the most vulnerable to suppression. www.aclu-ms.org | 601-354-3408
A strong, healthy democracy must include the voices of all its citizens. In a democracy, voting is a right, not a privilege. Yet, in our democracy, more than 5 million Americans are unable to participate in this most basic, fundamental right of citizenship. Know your rights before you go to the polls on Nov. 6!
Write us: email@example.com Tweet us: @JxnFreePress Facebook: Jackson Free Press
COURTESY BRYAN DOYLE
Send us a photo of you and your JFP somewhere interesting. You get a $20 gift certificate if we print it.
[YOU & JFP]
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE AT STAKE IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION? (Be serious, please. No conspiracy theories, birther crap or anything thrown around by Dinesh Dâ€™Souza.) Melissa Kelly: Using economic policies which have been shown to work for recovery, even if not as quickly as we would wish; or going back to Voodoo trickledown mythology and ramrodding our economy into oblivion.
will also affect me in a very direct way. So, Iâ€™m scared, not just for me, but for others in the same boat. Elaanie Stormbender: National security ... without it, everything else is just chatter.
Bilal Hashim: The economy. Toi Thomas: The economy. Jill Butler: Not allowing the 1% to continue to milk the country dry.
Bryan Doyle is reading the JFP election issue from 2008.
.!-%%U\DQ'R\OH ,/#!4)/.&DSLWRO+LOO:DVKLQJWRQ'& !'%
/##50!4)/. -RXUQDOLVW32/,7,&2 ,)6%$ ). *!#+3/.LQ
*&0 2%!$%2 3).#%GXULQJWKHEHJLQQLQJRI)UDQN0HOWRQVDJD6HUYHGDVPXVLFHGLWRULQ IRUWKH-)3*UDWHIXOWKDW'RQQDDOVROHWPHZULWHDERXWSROLWLFVRQRFFDVLRQ
&!6/2)4% *!#+3/. -/-%.4Âł,KDYHWZR)LUVW,ÂśGGHÂżQLWHO\KDYHWRVD\WKHHOHFWLRQSDUW\DW+DO DQG0DOÂśVLQ1RYHPEHU)RUP\VHFRQG,ZLVKWRLQFOXGHDFRPSRVLWHRIPHPRULHVIURPP\ WLPHLQ)RQGUHQ)ULGD\VLQ)RQGUHQKDSS\KRXUVDW6DO 0RRNLHÂśVZDONLQJWRZRUNRQ6WDWH6WUHHW ,WÂśVMXVWDQDPD]LQJSODFHWROLYHDVDFUHDWLYHSHUVRQDQG,ÂśPJUDWHIXOIRUDOOWKHIULHQGV,PDGHZKLOH ,ZDVWKHUHÂ´ ,!34 "//+ 2%!$Âł2WLV7KH2WLV5HGGLQJ6WRU\Â´E\6FRWW)UHHPDQ)RUIDQVRIWKHVLQJHULWÂśVD PXVWUHDG &!6/2)4% 3!9).'Âł<RXFDQÂśWXVHXSFUHDWLYLW\7KHPRUH\RXXVHWKHPRUH\RXKDYHÂ´ Â˛0D\D$QJHORX "%34 0!24 /&