May 28 - June 3, 2014
JACKSONIAN FRANK SPENCER
round noon each weekday, people congregate outside a large church off West Capitol Street. Inside, in front of the kitchen, a row of people stand behind a long table of food and serve spoonfuls of this and handfuls of that to those in line. It’s lunchtime at Stewpot Community Services, and Frank Spencer, executive director, stands off to the side, watching as Stewpot does what it’s meant to do—serve the people of Jackson. Spencer says that, between Meals on Wheels, the two meals a day for those who live in the shelters and the meals in the community kitchen, Stewpot serves about 400 to 450 meals each day. “That is how Stewpot started off, and that is how people think of us, you know, as a feeding program, but they really don’t know about the other things we do, like the shelters,” Spencer says. “They don’t realize it’s Stewpot. They think of it as Matt’s House, Flowers House and Billy Brumfield (Shelter) doing those things.” The organization has grown tremendously since its start in 1981, moving and expanding locations. Stewpot now includes a food pantry, clothes closet, a computer and business lab, and other services. Spencer says the organization’s 7,000-9,000 volunteers, 25 full-time staff members and 25 part-timers help around 650 people a day. Spencer, 67, has been with the organization since the early 2000s. Around 1998, a new clergyperson named Carol, who is now
his wife, came to Chapel of the Cross with the goal of getting church members more involved in the community. He began volunteering at Stewpot in 1998, and then in 2002, when the then-executive director of Stewpot left, Spencer applied for the job and has been in the position ever since. Spencer graduated from Ole Miss with degrees in biology and psychology in 1970. He started law school at Ole Miss that same year, and dropped out, but then went back in 1974 and graduated with a law degree. For 30 years, he worked with the attorney general’s office, his tenure spanning from A.F. Summer to Mike Moore. Though he is retired from the state, he still serves on Attorney General Jim Hood’s opinion committee and is also still a member of the state bar. As executive director of Stewpot, Spencer oversees the 16 different ministries and ensures that the organization has the funds to perform its services, which includes raising money at events such as Taste of Mississippi or applying for grants. From time to time, Spencer says he finds himself advocating for the impoverished or other issues. “It’s very rewarding,” he says. “Of course, you see some people acting out and that kind of thing, but you see the best that people have to offer when they come and help, and they can donate, and they help us out. It’s just very rewarding to see people like that and it’s rewarding to help those that need it.” —Amber Helsel
Cover illustration by Zack Orsborn
9 Flood of Worry
Upgrading the city’s water meters could be a good thing or a very, very bad thing.
26 Pastel Skies
Though she loved art class in high school, Pam Kinsey didn’t begin her career as an artist until later in life.
27 Culinary Cinema “(Jon) Favreau, who launched his career with the smash-hit indie film ‘Swingers’ in 1996, is back at his bread and butter with the soulful and delicious ‘Chef.’”
—Jordan Sudduth, “Chef: Tasty Cinematic Cuisine”
4 ............................. EDITOR’S NOTE 6 ................................................ YOU 8 ............................................ TALKS 12 ................................ EDITORIAL 13 .................................... OPINION 14 ............................ COVER STORY 22 ......................................... FOOD 23 ................... GIRL ABOUT TOWN 24 .............................. DIVERSIONS 26 ...........................................ARTS 27 .......................................... FILM 28 ....................................... 8 DAYS 29 ...................................... EVENTS 32 ....................... MUSIC LISTINGS 33 ..................................... SPORTS 35 .................................... PUZZLES 37 ....................................... ASTRO
COURTESY YEBO MUSIC; TRIP BURNS; TRIP BURNS
MAY 28 - JUNE 3, 2014 | VOL. 12 NO. 38
by R.L. Nave, News Editor
Silencing Our Fear of Youth
ne of my earliest obsessions was with a gun. It was probably summertime when a now-defunct company called Entertech rolled out its line of motorized, battery-powered water guns. My best friend, Lawrence, and I badly wanted Entertech guns of our own. Probably without much prodding, our parents agreed. On a trip to the toy department, I picked out my weaponized squirt pistol, the AK Centerfire, modeled on the TEC-22 submachine gun with two refillable clips to hold water. Entertech’s tagline—The look! The feel! The sound, so real!—was spot on. The first generation of the guns, the ones Lawrence and I had, were so realistic that some people used them in actual bank robberies. That also led to numerous reports of law-enforcement officers shooting kids whose water guns were mistaken for the real things. Later, Entertech redesigned the toys to be painted with splashy neon colors with orange plastic glued into the barrels. We were proud that we had the original guns, but eventually boys discovered that the orange plastic piece could be removed easily with a pair of pliers, and the guns spray-painted to restore them to their menacing appearance. Guns have always been a part of my life. Not because I come from a gun tradition per se—my father has always owned a gun, and I shot them as a boy, for sport—but because I am an American. In 2012, Dan Baum, a liberal writer living in the most liberal of American cities, wrote a book exploring our nation’s gun culture and wrote afterward in Harper’s magazine that “we have more gun violence in America than in other industrialized countries not because we have more
guns, but because we have more Americans,” whom he argues “are simply more violent than other people.” And so we find ourselves rehashing the same solutions: getting all the men together to hash out a plan for dealing with the kids we all helped create. I don’t have a lot of faith in the long-term effectiveness of such strategies for a simple reason:
It’s hard to uplift black boys when we are so invested in tearing them down. In America, little boys learn that guns are the solution to a problem, whether it’s the summer doldrums in the case of our Entertechs to a disturbed man’s history of romantic rejection to a foreign-policy stance that relies on war to protect (or further) our national interests. I’m not guiltless in this. One night last fall, I heard sudden commotion outside my front door. It was well past the time when anybody I know would make an unannounced visit, so in the active imagination of an American boy, the only thing it could be was a threat. I grabbed a gun. At some point, as I stood in a darkened room holding a shotgun, I realized that I was probably be-
ing ridiculous and put the weapon away. I figured out later that around the same time, a young black Michigan woman named Renisha McBride crashed after a night of drinking and sought help from a nearby homeowner, who reportedly mistook her for a burglar and shot her. The incident—like those of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, Jordan Davis and Michael Dunn—touched off a national debate about white supremacy and black people’s right to exist in America. No one who knows me would describe me as a white supremacist, a trigger-happy gun nut or a misanthrope (nor do I consider these terms interchangeable), yet Wafer’s reaction to the sound of stirring outside his front door—his solution to his problem, his fear—was the same as mine. This issue is all about uplifting black boys (See “Lifting Up Black Boys,” page 14), but it’s hard to empower black boys when we are so invested in constantly tearing them down. Indeed, Jackson has had a lot of gun violence—too much—in recent weeks, which have prompted all the usual calls to “Stop the Violence” and “Take Back Our Streets.” In many cases, these platitudes are directed at young men who grow up receiving toy guns as birthday presents in a country where nonexistent weapons of mass destruction are a reason to go to war and we pretend not to understand why they also view the gun Option No. 1 for effective conflict resolution. Of all the recent murders, perhaps no loss was as crushing as that of Armon Burton. At age 3, Burton was killed in a hail of gunfire after some people in his neighborhood quarreled, reportedly, over a missing dog, and exchanged some 30 bullets. Burton’s baby-tooth-filled smile
across his cherubic brown face makes him a convenient cause célèbre. I can’t help but wonder what would happen to little Armon had he lived through the trauma of that night. Harvard researchers looked at the phenomenon of stress in a working paper published this year titled “Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain.” They note that repeated or prolonged exposure to environmental stressors “may overproduce neural connections while those regions dedicated to reasoning, planning, and behavioral control may produce fewer neural connections.” Over time, “This wear and tear increases the risk of stress-related physical and mental illness later in life,” the researchers found. Would we be as sympathetic a decade or more down the road if, after years of exposure to trauma and other environmental stressor, a teenaged Armon Burton picked up a gun and, in defense of himself and his neighborhood—or out of sheer fear—took someone else’s life? I know the answer to this question because I listen when people talk about teenagers who participate in gun crimes as deserving of the longest and harshest sentences allowable under the law because they were “old enough to know better.” But look at who their teachers are— us. As Albert Sykes, a 30-year-old youth activist, told me last week, too many of the people who invest all their energy into shaking their heads about youth crime and want to take stand against violence also refuse to live and move with and be engaged with youth. “We have to deconstruct our fear of youth,” he told me of our generation. And in doing so, maybe we will also silence the fear in ourselves.
May 28 - June 3, 2014
Mary Kate McGowan
Zack Orsborn, a junior at Mississippi State and the Starkville Free Press assistant editor, hails from Amory, Miss. Zack likes to explore topics such as LGBT rights, race relations and politics. He designed this issue’s cover.
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist and the author or co-author of 12 books,. He has won over a dozen major journalism awards in his career and served as editor in chief of Odyssey Couleur travel magazine. He wrote the cover story.
Mary Kate McGowan, a senior communication and English major at Mississippi State University, is a Starkville Free Press writer and a Jackson Free Press summer intern. She contributed to the cover package.
Deja Harris is a Junior at Alcorn State University where she majors in mass communications with an emphasis in print journalism. She contributed to the cover package.
City Reporter Haley Ferretti is a 2013 graduate of Delta State University. She enjoys traveling, listening to The Strokes and raiding refrigerators. Send her Jackson story ideas to haley@ jacksonfreepress.com. She wrote talk stories.
Jordan Sudduth is a political consultant, golfer, fledgling actor and wannabe chef. He has a passion for film and has been working on a novel since May 2010. He wrote a film story.
Music Listings Editor Tommy Burton is keeping the dream alive one record at a time. He can usually be seen with a pair of headphones on. He wrote an arts story.
Kimberly Griffin is a fitness buff and foodie who loves chocolate and her mama. She’s also Michelle Obama’s super secret BFF, which explains the Secret Service detail.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Jackson Rising Conference Not About Politics
his piece is written on behalf of Cooperation Jackson in response to the Jackson Free Press article, â€œLumumba Disappointed in Officials.â€? Cooperation Jackson is an emerging network of cooperatives in Jackson whose main objective is working with the community to help facilitate the development of various cooperative enterprises throughout the city by offering education, technical and financial assistance, and more generally, an overall network of support around the development of cooperative enterprises in Jackson. It is notable that out of all of the local news outlets, the Jackson Free Press was the only one that covered the Jackson Rising New Economies conference that took place at Jackson State University May 2-4. We appreciate that JFP covered local pre-conference activities by writing stories leading up to the conference (see jfp.ms/ jxnrising). This latest article, however, could have given a more in-depth understanding of what happened at the conferenceâ€”its objectives, purpose and goalsâ€”rather than a focus on the cityâ€™s failure to support the conference. The conferenceâ€™s aim of introducing cooperative enterprises in the city of Jackson and the fact that it drew widespread support from both the national and international community was the news story we believe should have been covered. Disappointment in city officialsâ€™
refusal to support the conference was significant, but not of primary importance. The cityâ€™s failure to fulfill what we believed to be its commitment was already reported in a story published on May 2. The manner in which the most recent story was reported insinuated that the conference was attached to an electoral political agenda. This was not the case at all. The Jackson Rising conference and the work that must take place in its aftermath was not and is not about any one politician, political candidate or political party. Cooperation Jackson does recognize that the conference was, in part, the fulfillment of a vision articulated by our late mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, that was formulated over time by a number of his close allies and collaborators. To be clear, the position of Cooperation Jackson is that the work of establishing economic justice and a new economy based on caring, sharing and cooperation
is a totally independent process that must come from and be guided by working-class people. This is necessary to establish a more clear economic vision that benefits and includes those Jacksonians that have not historically been taken into account in regards to the economic development of the city. This is something that the JFP overlooked in its story about the conference because conference attendees and organizers were not a part of the story. Since the story did not include the organizers or conference attendees, the true purpose and focus of the conference was not given proper attention. JFPâ€™s efforts to cover the conference are commendable. However, the story could have been more informative and substantial if JFP gave voice to the organizers of the conference, along with conference participants that made the conference a success.
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Prevent, Protect, Empower
he annual JFP Chick Ball is turning 10 this year, and weâ€™re going bigger and better to celebrate. As always, the event will help the Center for Violence Prevention. This year, we are dedicated to preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and empowering women to rebuild their lives and their families. To get involved with the most amazing JFP Chick Ball, yetâ€”scheduled for July 19, 2014 at the Mississippi Arts Centerâ€”email chickball@ jacksonfreepress.com or call 601362-6121, ext. 23. You can join our committee, volunteer your time, sponsor the event, donate items to the silent auction and more. And watch for our new website, coming shortly to jfpchickball.com. This year, we are also planning a separate JFP Chick Ball Jam, with even more live music at Hal & Malâ€™s. If youâ€™re interested in performing at either event, you can also write email@example.com. Prevent. Protect. Empower. JFP Chick Ball 2014. Join us!
May 28 - June 3, 2014
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The Department of Archives & History invites you to an address by
Dr. Robert P. Moses Introduction by Dr. Leslie McLemore
June 2, noon old capitol State Street at Capitol
Medgar Wiley Evers
Supported by the Mississippi Humanities Council through its Cora Norman Lecture Fund
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Thursday, May 22 The U.S. House passes legislation to end the National Security Agencyâ€™s bulk collection of American phone records. â€Ś Thailandâ€™s military seizes power in a bloodless coup, dissolving the government, suspending the constitution and dispersing groups of protesters from both sides of the countryâ€™s political divide. Friday, May 23 Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and several Philadelphia judges personally perform the first gay marriages in Pennsylvania at City Hall following the removal of the stateâ€™s ban Tuesday. â€Ś In a report that could expose the Catholic Church to new legal arguments by clerical sex abuse victims, a U.N. committee finds that the Vatican does exercise worldwide control over its bishops and priests and must comply with the U.N.â€™s anti-torture treaty. Saturday, May 24 In a move aimed at neutralizing critics and potential opposition, Thailandâ€™s new army junta orders dozens of activists, academics and journalists to surrender themselves to military authorities.
Natural Gas Conversion May Cool â€˜Heatedâ€™ Bus Riders by Haley Ferretti
ummer is officially here, and some JATRAN passengers are melting. Due to ongoing issues with air-conditioning units on several JATRAN buses, passengers might have to find an alternative solution to their traveling needs this summer. Sheila Oâ€™Flaherty, who travels via JATRAN to and from her job on the Capital Defense Counsel at the Office of State Public Defender, spoke to the Jackson City Council on behalf of several bus passengers at a meeting last Tuesday. Oâ€™Flaherty expressed confusion with the buses having operational issues when a piece of federal legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP21), recently passed that loosened regulations on how the Federal Transit Administration uses its money. President Barack Obama signed MAP21 into law back in July 2012. The legislation allows funding for surface transportation programs at more than $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014, and it builds on many transportation programs and policies for highways, transits, bikes and pedestrians that were put in place in 1991. Before the legislation, money was strictly used to buy buses. However, Oâ€™Flaherty says money can now be used for operational repairs thanks to the â€œHundred Bus Rule,â€? which allows federal funding to go toward
Sunday, May 25 Billionaire Petro Poroshenko, who supports strong ties with Europe but also wants to mend ties with Russia, wins Ukraineâ€™s presidential election.
May 28 - June 3, 2014
Monday, May 26 Nigeriaâ€™s chief of defense announces that the military has located the nearly 300 school girls abducted by Islamic extremists, but fears using force to try to free them could get them killed.
Tuesday, May 27 Senior administration officials announce that President Obama will seek to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the war formally ends later this year and then will withdraw most of those forces by the end of 2016. Get breaking news at jfpdaily.com.
Wednesday, May 21 China signs a landmark $400 billion deal to buy natural gas from Russia. Chinaâ€™s president also calls for an Asian security arrangement that would include Russia and Iran and exclude the United States. â€Ś The National Sept. 11 memorial museum, located underground beneath ground zero, opens to the public.
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A new resolution to convert the JATRAN bus system to run on natural gas could save the City millions and free up funding that can go toward several maintenance issues.
operation management for buses in cities with fewer than 100 buses in the fleet. â€œSome of us are concerned that the city may not be using all of the federal funds available,â€? Oâ€™Flaherty said. â€œI donâ€™t know if itâ€™s true or not true. â€Ś I do think that the buses are currently breaking down a lot, and no (fixed-route) buses have been bought.â€? â€œIt has been at least five years since the city bought a fixed-route bus. Theyâ€™re supposed to last five years, and Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s what the city is counting on.â€?
However, some of the buses do not seem to be holding up. Oâ€™Flaherty said that at least half of the buses do not have working air conditioning. JATRAN has two kinds of buses, fixedroute and power transit. Fixed-route buses transport people to predetermined destinations on a regular route. Power-transit buses, or HandiLift, assist with the transportation of the temporarily or permanently disabled. Oâ€™Flaherty is alleging that much of the federal funding has been going toward
by R.L. Nave
ackson Free Press readers are a curious bunch. Theyâ€™re interested in our hard-hitting award-winning coverage of race issues, womenâ€™s rights and social justice. Theyâ€™re also very interested in a local girls dance troupe and, apparently, turkey cuisine. Here are some of the more interesting terms from the top 1,000 keyword searches of the past month.
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the power-transit buses, which is leaving the fixed-route buses unattended for needed repairs. Oâ€™Flaherty said that she was told at the city council meeting and the most recent fixed-route riders meeting, which meets on the last Saturday of each month, that the city currently has the money to fund one and a half buses right now, supposedly $600,000. One bus costs roughly $400,000. She said that the city currently has approximately 10 fixed-route buses. Calls to Elvin Tobin, JATRANâ€™s manager, for comment on the issue were not returned. Many passengers are also complaining that the fixed-route buses are taking too
long to get to their stops. Oâ€™Flaherty said that people are waiting up to 30 minutes or longer for the next bus during transfers. Carl Marks, a system analyst for the financial aid department at Jackson State University, uses JATRAN for daily travel and agrees with Oâ€™Flaherty. Marks said that he is fairly certain that federal money is available to help JATRAN but is worried that no one is taking the initiative to apply for it. â€œIâ€™m just concerned about whether or not they (JATRAN) are doing everything that can be done to get money for public transit. â€Ś Somebody has to make the move and apply for it. â€Ś We need some new buses. They (current buses) break down a lot.â€? Marks said one of the operational