Vol. 9 | No. 4 // October 6 - 12, 2010
ASSAULTING WITH FEAR MOTT, PP 16-23
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9 NO. 4
contents XXXX; WARD SHAEFER; ANDY CHILDRESS; SARAH SENFF
8 Back to One The Corps of Engineers says it will study a one-lake plan, as long as Congress pays half.
Cover photograph by Daphne Nabors
THIS ISSUE: The ‘Person’ Suit .............. Editor’s Note
......................... 8 Days
.................. JFP Events
........... Music Listings
...... Road to Wellness
A ballot initiative to redefine what a ‘person’ is hits a constitutional snag.
alan henderson After spending the last few years attending school in Washington, D.C., Alan Henderson decided to return to his hometown with the goal of using his experiences to rebuild the city of Jackson. Henderson, 23, graduated from Howard University this spring where he earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture and design. “I want to be an architect, an urban planner and an advocate for good design. I would like to see Jackson grow as a cohesive city, not just downtown or west Jackson but all areas in Jackson,” he says. A native of north Jackson, Henderson’s interest in design started at a young age, and he cites his five older siblings and parents as inspirations. His father owns New Concept Builders, a construction company in Jackson. His mother, a retired Jackson Public Schools counselor, has a knack for interior design. He spent his youth exploring various art mediums such as painting and pottery. The St. Joseph Catholic School graduate’s passion for design doesn’t end with buildings. He has also an impressive fashion resume. While in school, Henderson volunteered during New York Fashion Week. As a volunteer, he handled the behind-thescenes work and helped ready models for the runway. “I am definitely into fashion. It all (involves) design, whether its fashion, architecture, interior design or fine arts,” he says.
At Howard, Henderson worked as a host at the pizza bistro, Matchbox DC and interned as a designing view officer with the National Capitol Planning Commission, a federal organization that regulates new designs in the D.C. metro area. “Our job was to basically approve and disapprove projects that would have an adverse affect on any federal properties,” he says. Henderson wants to take his experiences with the planning commission and apply it to Jackson. He says it’s important that new developments in the city are sustainable and have architectural integrity. The recent grad currently works with in his dad’s construction business as he looks for work in his field. He wants to be a part of Jackson’s renaissance in any way possible. “I see myself as a sponge and someone who really wants to make a difference. I would like to see a plan of action. I am an inspired individual, and I love taking in whatever I’m surrounded by and letting that influence me in the most positive way possible,” he says. Henderson has big plans for the next five years and beyond. “I want to have an input in the planning of Jackson, which will affect my children, my grandchildren and the overall success in having a better quality of life in Jackson and beyond,” he says. “The road less traveled is the most exciting,” he adds. —Ashley Hill
16 Fighting Fear More than any other type of domestic abuse, stalking strikes fear into its victims’ hearts.
36 Veggie Bread Zucchini bread becomes comfort food when childhood memories are in the recipe.
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by Lacey McLaughlin, News Editor
The Art of Denial
was a junior in high school when my mom came into my room visibly shaken. “I can’t keep doing this. There is going to come a time when we are going to leave, and I need you to help me get your sisters and not say a word,” she pleaded. “Oh mom, you’re just saying that—everything will be fine tomorrow, you know how Dad is,” I replied. Growing up, I had learned to tune out the raging fights and flying objects. When I woke up on Christmas morning a few years earlier, I wasn’t disturbed to find an alarm clock embedded in my parent’s bedroom wall. “He didn’t really mean to throw it. It must have slipped out of his hand,” I told myself. Didn’t all Dads throw things and get angry sometimes? When my mom came in my room that night, it was my job to talk her down. I pointed out that she wouldn’t have any money since my dad controlled her credit cards and bank account. Plus, homecoming was only a few weeks away, and I had snagged a football player as a date that year. My dad served my mom with divorce papers on Sept. 11, 2001, as an I’ll-showyou-who’s-boss gesture. Shortly after, he tried to reconcile with my mother. This, however, was her big break. She wasn’t willing to stop the proceedings. She scraped money together and hired her own lawyer who told her not to leave the house because a judge could consider that terms of abandonment. Already fearful that without a college degree or any income, she would lose custody of her children, she stayed in the house despite continued threats and insults by my father. “Just what are you going to do? You can’t get a job, you don’t have
any skills,” I heard him say. On homecoming night, I posed for photographs with my parents, although they weren’t speaking. Our homecoming party gathered at my house, where my parents presented themselves as the quintessential upper-class family. The night was full of possibilities. I had found the perfect red dress, and I was certain that my date, Scott, and I would become an official couple that night after months of flirting. My mom threatened Scott with serious repercussions if he kept me out even a minute past my midnight curfew. As I drove home at 2 a.m., I nervously thought of every excuse I could to explain my lateness. I just knew my mom—the more authoritative parent—was going to ground me, cut off all phone and computer privileges, or even worse, forbid me from seeing Scott again. As I pulled up to the house, every light was on. “Great, they are waiting for me,” I thought. I surrendered to my fate and took a deep breath as I opened the door. No one was waiting. I made way to my parents’ bedroom, the basement and the living room. My sisters and parents had vanished, and no one answered their cell phones. Something was not right. I fell asleep and woke up to my mom’s frightened voice on the phone. “Is he still there?” she asked nervously. She was at a neighbor’s house, and wanted me to bring the car and a change of clothes. I found my mom sitting on our neighbor’s couch with mascara stains under her eyes. She had bruises on her arms and was holding her head. She hadn’t been to sleep, yet. I didn’t ask for details because I knew she
was physically and mentally exhausted. All I knew was that this time, it was bad. My heart sank—this wasn’t happening to our family. Later, the details came out in the form of police reports, court proceedings and from my 10-year-old sister who had witnessed it all. As the divorce became a reality, and my father could no longer hide our family’s financial debt (our home would be foreclosed on in the next few months and our cars repossessed), he began to lose control. Shortly after I left with my date, my father entered the living room to find my mom on the phone with her sister and laughing. He thought she was making fun of him, but she insists she was on the phone laughing with her sister, who was on the other end. That’s all it took for him to snap. When I went back home later that morning, my father was there. Moments later, the police knocked on our door, and he went with them to the police station. I went back to Scott’s house to watch football. I mentioned nothing of the incident. I just sat silently trying to hide my shock. My mother taught us not to bring up our dirty laundry in front of others. After that incident, a court order prevented my dad from entering the house. My mom entered into a domestic-violence victims program and started to believe in herself. She found a job, and learned how to manage her own money. Though she lost everything in the divorce, she gained the freedom and independence that she hadn’t had in 18 years. My dad is not a villain, and that’s why I made excuses for him while growing up. He’s handsome with a larger-than-life personality and a strong drive to succeed. From an early age, he was exposed to violence and dysfunction but never found a way to process what he saw. Since the divorce, he has apologized to our family and tried to make amends. Denial is what enables domestic abuse to go on for so long or escalate to a life-threatening situation. We don’t want to believe that it’s happening to our family, neighbors or friends. I was too young at the time to fully understand the situation, but I learned not to brush off signs of violence or give an abuser the benefit of the doubt. I asked my mom permission to write this column, as it divulges extremely personal information about our family. She agreed, telling me: “I always hoped that my story would help someone else.” She said her friends and family feared for her safety during that time. The JFP is dedicated to telling these stories, in hopes that we can prevent the inexcusable death of another woman in Mississippi and free those from the mental prison of abuse. The only way to do that is for more strong women to speak up and our state leaders to take the issue seriously. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Ronni Mott Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. in 1997. She’s a writer, photographer and the JFP’s managing editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats and curmudgeonliness. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She wrote the cover story.
Daphne Nabors Daphne Nabors is a freelance photographer with a home and studio in the Belhaven Heights area of Jackson. She also plays in two local bands, bass in Overnight Lows and drums in the Party Dots. She photographed the cover photo.
Andy Childers When Andy Childers is not teaching his cat to talk, he’s drawing funny pictures and putting them on the interweb thingy at bubba worldcomix.com. (Technically, the cat taught himself to talk; he just takes credit for it.) He illustrated the cover story.
Garrad Lee Garrad Lee is working on his master’s in history at Jackson State University. He grew up in south Jackson but now lives in Belhaven with his wife, dog and cat. He wrote the hip-hop story.
Tom Head Freelance writer Tom Head is a lifelong Jackson native. He has authored or co-authored of 24 nonfiction books on a wide range of topics, is a civil liberties writer for About.com, and a grassroots progressive activist. He wrote the book review.
Latasha Willis Events editor Latasha Willis is a native Jacksonian, a graduate of Tougaloo College and the proud mother of one cat. Her JFP blog is “The Bricks That Others Throw,” and she sells design pieces at zazzle.com/ reasontolive.
Brandi Herrera Brandi Herrera, a native of Portland, Ore., is a freelance writer and graduate of Linfield College in Oregon. She enjoys wine and cooking, and strives to live as “green” as possible. She wrote the body/soul story.
Kimberly Griffin Advertising Director Kimberly Griffin is a Jackson native who likes yoga, supporting locally owned businesses and traveling. In her spare time, she plots how she can become Michelle’s Obama’s water holder.
news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, Sept. 30 U.S. Department of the Interior introduces new, tougher rules for offshore drilling, including well design, cementing practices and employee training., that must be in place before the ban on deepwater drilling is lifted. … The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation delivers 119,000 signatures to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in another attempt to place eminent-domain reform on the November 2011 ballot in order to limit it for public use. Friday, Oct. 1 The White House names Pete Rouse, a longtime Obama aid, as the new White House chief of staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel stepped down to run in the Chicago mayoral race. … National Geographic names Hattiesburg as one of 100 “Adventure Towns” in the U.S. It is the only Mississippi town on the list. Saturday, Oct. 2 Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, confirms the arrest of “nuclear spies” who infected nuclear program computers with a worm. … Ole Miss defeats Kentucky 42-35, and Mississippi State defeats Alcorn State 49-16. Sunday, Oct. 3 An Israeli military court convicts two Israeli soldiers of using a Palestinian 9-yearold as a human shield during the 2008 war with Gaza. … A wildfire in Newton County causes over $1 million in lost timber.
October 6 - 12, 2010
Monday, Oct. 4 The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal from reputed klansman James Ford Seale, convicted in 2007 for his role in the 1964 murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, both 19 at the time. …
Tuesday, Oct. 5 Andre Geim, 51, and Konstantin Novoselov, 36, Russian-born physicists working in England, win the Nobel Prize for their work on graphene, which is the thinnest and strongest form of carbon known. … Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to set off a bomb in Times Square, New York City, receives a mandatory life sentence.
Lake Plan Faces Cost Hurdle COURTESY WAGGONER ENGINEERING
Wednesday, Sept. 29 Dr. Grayson Norquist, chairman of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is one of 18 appointed to serve on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
Most people don’t know what stalking actually is: Of thousands of crime victims in a U.S. Department of Justice study on stalking in 2009, fewer than half identified stalking behavior as such.
Proposed Levee Plan
Some lake supporters hope a one-lake plan would replace levees, although levees are still in the mix.
.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson said federal funding to study building a lake on the Pearl River will not be easy to obtain, despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ renewed interest in the plan. “Given where we are just in terms of the country’s finances, a project of this magnitude would require a yeoman’s effort on the part of all parties to get it approved, especially given the fact that the project is still in its infancy,” Thompson said this week. “If it gets approved,
this will be a major hurdle to overcome.” As difficult as the next step may be, it is an improvement over the project’s chances earlier this year, when Corps Project Manager Doug Kamien refused to even enter the lake plan into a federal vetting process. In September, however, the Corps seemingly reversed itself: “The Corps is happy to consider a single-lake plan and other plans in a feasibility study, if the federal government provides funding for the match,” U.S. Army
“I think it would be very difficult to put wheels on the capitol.” — Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. responding during a JFP Editorial Board meeting to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant telling the Rankin County Chamber of Commerce that “if we can get the capitol on some wheels, we’d move it.”
Attorney Bridgette Clayton runs for a Hinds County judgeship. p 11
by Adam Lynch Corps of Engineers spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale told the JFP last week. Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army Civil Works Division, sent a Sept. 17 letter to members of the Mississippi delegation, assuring them that the Corps was onboard with studying a lone-lake plan, “provided funds to continue the study are included in the fiscal year 2011 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. She added that the study will begin “as expeditiously as possible” after the appropriation. The letter arrived after Rankin-Hinds Levee Board members traveled to Washington to ask the state’s political delegation to pressure the Corps to consider the one-lake compromise between Two Lakes and expanded levees. The delegation wrote Darcy in August, requesting the Corps continue an environmental-impact study and a third-party review of the single-lake plan, which is necessary before any flood control project can move forward. The Levee Board wants the federal government to consider putting a small lake between current levees girding the Pearl River alongside Jackson. Kamien previously opposed any lake plan, saying it unnecessarily posed a threat to the wetland environment along the Pearl considering that a less environmentally harmful levee expansion is possible. The issue became even more complicated over the last few years as Levee Board members battled over the potential size of the HURDLE, see page 9
n honor of the Mississippi State Fair, which rolls into Jackson this week, the JFP decided to compile a list of alternative amusements and food items that you’ll probably never see at any state fair. (And remember, support local businesses during the fair; it’s a tough time for them!) Bobbing for tarballs Guess Gov. Haley Barbour’s weight The indigenous petting zoo, featuring ‘possums, coyotes and alligators Free the ‘Gator protest Drum-circle entertainment Free rides Hug a felon Guess Rep. Steve Holland’s weight Salad toss The Prius pull LEED-certified Tilt-a-whirl The Chokwe Lumumba “Free the Land” kissing booth Baked tofu on a stick Gluten-free funnel cake with powdered Stevia
news, culture & irreverence
HURDLE, from page 8
proposed lake. Jackson representatives on the board, including businessmen Leland Speed and Socrates Garrett, had long advocated for oilman John McGowan’s ambitious two-lake plan, which could engulf portions of LeFleur’s Bluff Park and tie flood control up in legal wrangling for decades, while other members pushed for a smaller lake plan or a simple levee-expansion plan with less negative environmental impact for the sake of expediency. Speed told the JFP that he still wants the two-lake plan, but said the upper lake portion—which is not a component of the singlelake plan—will be able to stand on its own merits at a later time, after the development of the first lake. McGowan has said publicly that he now supports the one-lake plan because he can turn it into his Two Lakes vision later. There seems to be confusion, however, over whether the one-lake plan would be developed alongside the expanded levees the Corps is pursuing. Strident Two Lakes supporter The Northside Sun reported last week that the plan would replace the levees, allowing McGowan to add his second lake later. But the June 2010 map released by one-lake designer Barry Royals indicated a levee expansion would be part of the one-lake mix. If so, it would seem to kill the possibility of a future expansion into McGowan’s two-lake vision. With the Corps now willing to study the one-lake proposal, the next potential block
is the funding. Breazeale could not say how much the project study would cost, but the Levee Board must come up with funds for half the cost, with the federal government kicking in the other half. Thompson said the federal government must include funding for its half of the study in an appropriations omnibus bill “that would come out in November or December (of next year), if it is included at all.” “If they’re trying to get money for next October, they have to start by March of next year, and that (push) would have to come from the Corps. Them saying they’re waiting for money from Washington … isn’t enough,” Thompson said. Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., also a Levee Board member, said last week that he was unwilling to guess at the chances of funding the study, but had known of many Corps endeavors that never received congressional funding. “I think the important take-away message of the story is that now we have some movement to get the Corps to look at the onelake option as a meaningful option for flood protection and economic development and recreational use and environmental sustainability,” Johnson said. Thompson added that even if the federal government matches the cost of the analysis, the lake must still survive the vetting process. “The Corps still has to look at cost-benefit ratios and a host of things going into the effort,” he said. “Looking at it doesn’t mean it will ultimately happen.”
Public schools do more than educate children. They measure a city’s pride. They reflect community. They predict the social and economic well-being of a city’s future. For 20 years, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson has worked to keep our public schools strong, to empower parents as leaders for positive change, and to engage community support of our public schools.
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Immigration Hearings: The Skinny
Sens. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall (left), wants an Arizona-style immigration law
en. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, is proposing a Mississippi bill copying a controversial Arizona law written by a white-power group, which imposes immigration enforcement duties on local and state law enforcement. The Senate Judiciary A Committee held hearings last week on the proposed legislation, which mandates that local law enforcement check the citizenship status of people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants. • Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement President Dr. Rodney Hunt favored the Fillingane bill. Hunt declared that it “astounded” him that a Muslim immigrant who had been in the country illegally for two years could
“sue the government” after suffering a broken jaw in a Madison County jail after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. • Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson said his department would follow the law, but warned that he could not follow it very efficiently if it included unfunded mandates for new training, holding facilities, and new troopers. • ACLU Executive Director Nsombi Lambright warned the committee that the ACLU had already legally challenged the Arizona law, and would likely challenge a similar law attempted in Mississippi. • Samantha Atkinson, director of the State Auditor’s Performance Audits division, claimed that the national health-care costs for treating uninsured undocumented immigrants cost $4.3 billion a year. She failed to reference countless reports claiming that immigrant contribution to the economy in taxes and revenue generation more than compensated for the loss. • NAACP President Derrick Johnson, criticized members of the committee for not going after businesses that import and employ undocumented workers. He said state agencies like the auditor’s office and the attorney general’s office needed legislators to give them new accounting tools to monitor the number of undocumented employees employed at businesses.
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Schools Lagging on IDEA Stimulus Spending
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school tutoring. In August, the JPS board approved plans to use $1.21 million to purchase 1,275 computers and software for specialneeds students. Computers and other related technology will likely account for the largest single portion of the districtâ€™s IDEA Part B spending, around 25 percent, Miller said, with the rest going to personnel, after-school tutorials, supplies, handicap-equipped buses and placement in private therapy programs. While JPS has until September 2011 to spend its money, Miller said that she hopes to have the â€œgreat majorityâ€? of the districtâ€™s funds spent by the end of the 2010. File Photo
ississippi school districts have one year left to spend the $72 million remaining in a $116 million chunk of federal stimulus money for special education. Schools received the funds in 2009, and while a few districts have already spent the majority of their portion, most districts, including Jackson Public Schools, have spent little of their share. The funds came through a program called IDEA Part B, a section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that funds special education for K-12 students with disabilities. The money, while welcome, arrived with an expiration date: districts have until Sept. 30, 2011, to spend all of it. As of Sept. 10, 2010, Jackson Public Schools had spent only $136,940, or 1.7 percent of the $7.9 million it received for IDEA Part B through the stimulus package. In contrast, Biloxi Public Schools has spent 91 percent of its $1.165 million. Jackson County has spent 87 percent of the $1.8 million it received. The Columbus Municipal School District has spent $1.06 million, or 90 percent of the $1.18 million it received. Assistant Superintendent Anthony Brown, who oversees the districtâ€™s federal programs, said that the district was able to shuffle its budget to take full advantage of the stimulus funds with their shorter shelf life. Columbus used twothirds of the IDEA Part B stimulus money to cover the salaries of a supervisor, three case managers, teacher assistants and a variety of specialists. By using stimulus funds for those personnel costs, the district freed up regular special education funding for other uses. â€œThen, in turn, those dollars that wouldâ€™ve been used to pay for those folksâ€”it gives you a little more flexibility, because as you have (evaluation) meetings and identify needs for children, you have money that you can apply to that and not be under the tight timeline you were under to spend those (stimulus) dollars,â€? Brown said. JPS Chief Financial Officer Sharolyn Miller said that the small portion that the district has already spent went mostly to after-
Jackson Public Schools has so far spent only 2 percent of its stimulus funds for special education.
Aside from the time restrictions on the stimulus dollars, districts also must comply with federal guidelines that the stimulus funds â€œsupplement, not supplantâ€? state funding. That requirement means that districts cannot use federal dollars to meet state minimum funding levels. For instance, a district must spend state funds to maintain the required 18-to-one student-teacher ratios in special-education classes before it can use the stimulus money for IDEA Part B. Pete Smith, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Education, said many districts took longer to spend their IDEA Part B allotments out of caution. After Hurricane Katrina, some districts made purchases with federal aid money that later had to be returned because they did not follow federal guidelines. â€œDistricts were reluctant to spend money early on because, as we learned from Katrina,
you pretty much have to wait until they receive guidelines from the federal government as to what that money is allowed for and how that money can be spent,â€? Smith said. â€œIt took a while for the federal government to even get the guidance out to the districts. The stimulus package became law in February 2009, but districts did not receive their IDEA Part B allotments until July. MDE hosted an online information session for school districts on reporting requirements for IDEA Part B in September 2009. Miller said that JPS lost time in allocating its funds while waiting for guidance on federal requirements for soliciting bids on its computer purchases, which differed from normal requirements. â€œFor us, that was kind of the thing we were waiting on, to make sure (that) what we did, we were doing correctly,â€? Miller said. Districts also had to weigh the relative merits of preserving employees and purchasing equipment. Ellen Burnham, MDEâ€™s bureau director for data and fiscal management, said that some districts are changing their plans for spending the funds this fiscal year to address steep cuts in the state education budget. â€œOriginally, when they were allocated this money last July, they were doing a lot of big-ticket items like buses, network infrastructure, playgrounds for students with special needs (and) wheelchair swings.â€? Burnham said. â€œThis year â€Ś weâ€™re seeing them switch some of that money into personnel, to make sure that they can hold on to their teacher assistants.â€? Districts that change their proposals for using the money must get state approval, however, a process that can take two weeks to a month. Burnham said that she expects those districts that have been lagging in spending the money to increase their expenditures by the end of the year. â€œWeâ€™re right now in the process of putting together some letters to superintendents saying that we notice itâ€™s a slow move on some of (their) monies,â€? Burnham said. Comment at jacksonfreepress.com.
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Due Diligence on Biofuels
espite a strong show of support from state lawmakers last month, Houstonbased startup KiOR is still a long way from breaking ground on the three biofuel facilities it has pledged to build in Mississippi. KiOR must secure a purchase agreement with an oil refinery before it can receive the $75 million loan the Mississippi Legislature authorized Aug. 27, and state and company officials say an agreement is still to come. KiOR is “in discussions with a couple refineries,” Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Sally Williams said. The state’s demand for a purchase agreement is a means of protecting the state’s investment, Williams said. “The major oil-refining companies out there know the technology inside and out,” Williams said. “If they’re willing to fund that contract, that shows that the experts in the industry are agreeing it’s feasible.” Oil refineries could be forgiven for taking their time. KiOR claims to have developed an innovative means of processing biomass, like woodchips and agricultural waste, and turning it into a crude-oil substitute it calls “renewable crude.” KiOR’s technology relies on a decadesold process called pyrolysis—heating up biomass quickly in the presence of little oxygen. Pyrolysis breaks the compounds in wood
down into a goop that looks like conventional petroleum but is more acidic and has higher oxygen content, making it degrade faster. Pyrolysis oil is tricky to upgrade into gasoline, but that’s what KiOR claims to do with its proprietary catalyst. KiOR says that its “renewable crude” has a much lower oxygen content and is less corrosive than other pyrolysis oils, making it essentially a “dropin” fuel—one that can drop into the existing infrastructure for petroleum refining with no adjustment to equipment. KiOR is not alone in this field: In January, the oil-refining technology company UOP received $25 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a demonstration plant in Hawaii that would turn biomass into transportation fuel by upgrading pyrolysis oil. UOP is working with Ensyn—a Canadian company that is leading commercial pyrolysis—on the Hawaii plant, a collaboration that gives it an edge over KiOR, according to energy journalist Robert Rapier. “With Ensyn’s partnership with UOP to upgrade their pyrolysis oil—and over 20 years of pyrolysis oil experience under their belts— they are several steps ahead of KiOR in the path to commercialization,” Rapier wrote in a Sept. 5 post on his blog for Consumer Energy Report, an energy-news website.
Despite the support of state lawmakers, biofuels startup KiOR has yet to find the commitment from an oil refinery it needs to receive $75 million in state funds.
KiOR representatives and state officials have given media shifting estimates of the demand and productivity at each of the company’s three planned facilities. Gov. Haley Barbour and KiOR CEO Fred Cannon said Aug. 26 that the company’s plants would use 100 to 250 truckloads of wood per day and produce 800 to 1600 barrels of “renewable crude.” A company spokesman told the Jackson Free Press Sept. 23 that the company’s first facility will use 50 truckloads of wood per day to produce between 700 and 800 barrels, while future plants would produce as much or more. The company has repeatedly assured that its plants will use only “plantation trees,” meaning it will rely on land already being cultivated for the state’s paper and pulp industry. Larry Jarrett, a forester in Pontotoc and Union counties, said the additional demand for tree thinnings would be welcome in the state’s depressed timber industry. Pulp wood now sells for between $7 and $10 per ton.
Jarrett, a former president of the Mississippi Forestry Association, believes, however, that the demand from KiOR’s three plants would outstrip the supply of pulp-grade wood, requiring some higher-quality timber to meet the company’s production goals. “Some of the industry people have told me that they see no way they can make it just on the trimmings,” he said. “They’ve got to use some standing timber in order to support the size operation they’re talking about doing.” Standard saw logs sell for two or three times as much as pulp trees, which would mean dramatic increases in KiOR’s production costs. Jarrett worries that KiOR’s demand for lower-quality trees may lead forest landowners to shorten rotations on their land. Instead of waiting 30 years before logging, landowners may harvest trees after only 10 years to do business with KiOR, he said. “You’ve got an ecological desert when you have that (10-year rotation),” Jarrett said.
pa i d a dv e rt i s e m e n t
ynda Lam’s brother traveled throughout the Southeast from Houston, TX, on a mission to find the perfect city to open a familyowned country-fried seafood restaurant. Jackson, MS, was his final stop, and thus, Ellis Seafood was born. The restaurant doors opened in 1988 at 1041 Ellis Avenue, which is owned and managed by Lynda Lam’s dad and brother. Two years later, Lynda and her Ho Lam husband, Ho Lam, opened the family’s second Ellis Seafood location at 211 W. Woodrow Wilson. Lam credits her dad’s love for seafood as the secret to their success and food’s popularity. “Seafood is in our blood, it’s in our family,” says Lam. “My mom and dad have been fishermen since they were teenagers; that’s how they met.” Just take a bite of anything off their country-fried seafood menu, and you’ll see how serious they are about seafood. Try the 40-50 pieces of bite-sized fried popcorn shrimp, their signature menu item, or the country-fried catfish, and your taste buds will tell you how dedicated Ellis Seafood is to getting it just right. Lunch specials range from a variety of combos – served with your choice of fries, salad, fried rice or hushpuppies – for $4.09, to the oyster combo for $5.69. The prices and food aren’t the only things that stand out when you dine at Ellis Seafood. In fact, the cheerful service is probably the first thing you will notice immediately. “Honesty and communication are skills all our employees possess,” says Lam. “Our employees are so supportive, and we couldn’t do it without them.” For example, Kisha Johnson, is 31 years old and has been working at Ellis Seafood since she was 16. Not many family-owned and operated restaurants like Ellis Seafood exist in Jackson. Family recipe secrets are key, and what Lam believes keep customers coming back for more. Also, she says that Ellis Seafood has upgraded their menu, adding more to the original menu. “We added menu items based on what the customers wanted,” says Lam. “We now serve fried okra, po-boys, boiled shrimp (mild or spicy), crawfish (when in season), and fried pan trout. We also added a number of combos to give the customers more choices.” The drive-thru at both locations makes it easy for the customer on-the-go, not to mention the smiling faces and hospitable greeting you will experience there. The Ellis Seafood location at 1041 Ellis Avenue (phone: 601-353-6956) is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 midnight. The Ellis Seafood location at 211 W. Woodrow Wilson Avenue (phone 601-981-5556) is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Both are closed Sundays.
What lessons have you learned from the municipal-court job that you could apply to county court? We are all required toâ€”and this is what I plan to doâ€”to serve the high level of dedication to the rule of law as well as the judicial code of conduct. â€Ś Those are mandates, whether youâ€™re part time or full time, so I feel that Iâ€™m getting acclimated into conducting myself, in my person, as a judge, or groom myself to serve in a full-time basis with those same on-the-line mandates on the code of judicial conduct.
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! BENEÂ˝ TMEMORIAL IN HONOR OF (ERMAN 3NELL LOCAL ARTIST ART SUPPORTER AND MUSIC LISTINGS EDITOR FOR THE *&0 WHO PASSED UNEXPECTEDLY IN 3EPTEMBER Live music, art, and all things Herman = a good time!
All proceeds will go to offset funeral costs.
Details as theyâ€™re confirmed; keep up on Facebook at Herman Snellâ€™s page and through the JFP and Crossroads Film Festival.
Attorney and Jackson Municipal Court Judge Bridgett Clayton is running for Hinds County Court.
ridgett Clayton came to the practice of law relatively late, but she has built a varied career in a brief amount of time. The Meridian native studied political science at the University of Mississippi, graduating in 1982. She then worked for the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County as a grants administrator before heading to law school at Mississippi College in 1991. She received her law degree in 1994 and worked as an associate for Jackson attorney Bob Owens until 1998, when she started a private practice. From 1998 to 2000, she was an assistant county prosecutor for Hinds County, handling youth and criminal cases in county court. In 2008, she became a municipal-court judge for Jackson. Itâ€™s a part-time position, and Clayton has continued her private practice, including serving as corporate counsel for Hinds Countyâ€™s human resources agency. Clayton, 50, lives in northeast Jackson with her husband, Johnny, a respiratory therapist. The couple, who have two children, facilitate pre-marital and couples counseling for New Hope Baptist Church. Proceeds help benefit Hudspeth Regional Center in rankin co.
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What parts of the judicial system in Hinds County are working well? I think judges are probably handling, more than likely, the caseloads as best they can. Hinds County is a more highly populated county than some of your other counties, so I think they do a very professional job in that arena. However, I think that with more energy and ingenuity, I plan to serve at a higher level of efficiency. We can always improve, of course. And in doing so, I would have regular docket calls. I know some of the judges might already do that, so itâ€™s not any discredit to them. But I think we can probably have regular docket calls to clear the docket. What does that mean? When we file pleadings as attorneys, weâ€™re responsible for having that motion or petition being heard in as expeditious a manner as possible. So what I would do is try â€Ś to move those matters off the docket. Youâ€™ve probably heard about crowding of the docket. Thatâ€™s not to blame anyone (for) why the dockets are real full: Weâ€™re a big, populated county. But we can probably do, on the judicial realm, a more efficient job in making sure, by calling dockets â€Ś which cases have just sat there, gotten stale. Weâ€™ll call the docket and set a date and time for attorneys to be there to answer the call of the docket. â€Ś That way we can enter some orders of dismissal if no one comes and answers to the
docket, where appropriate. We canâ€™t just dismiss them, but we can call the docket and get the disposition and see what is going on with them. And some of them could probably be dismissed by order, by having a regular docket call. What are the most important qualities in a judge? Weâ€™re human, but we are to take a strong approach to abiding by the Code of Judicial Conduct and the five prongs that are mandated. â€Ś We should bring a strong leadership within the communityâ€”people can just see that weâ€™re serving as leaders and have leadership attributes. We need to become involved â€Ś (more) in the schools so that we can help bring about a strong connection between the judicial system and the students. What kind of connections could you see happening between Youth Court and students? We could become involved in schools by actually being available and visible, where they can see us and go out and have forums with the students in the areas where we have a high crime level. Itâ€™s not in every area, but in some areas we probably have pockets of youth that have grown into criminal acts and, of course, they migrate into adults and then end up in incarceration. Do you have anything else to add? We need to bring trustworthiness and integrity to the bench. With the climate that weâ€™ve had in the judiciary, weâ€™ve (attracted media attention) of course. And itâ€™s a mandate of us when we become attorneys to exemplify trustworthiness and integrity. After all, if we canâ€™t trust the judiciary, whom can we trust? If we cannot look and find integrity in the judiciary, where can we find it? Could you elaborate on that at all? Iâ€™ve mentioned that weâ€™ve been in the media, and thatâ€™s what I want to end on and not comment specifically on it.
LAUGHTER IS A GIFT FROM GOD
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Personhood Mississippi leader Les Riley’s efforts for a ballot initiative asking voters to decide when life begins will face several legal battles before the November 2011 elections.
he outcome of a lawsuit over a 2011 ballot initiative asking voters to define when life begins will come down to whether the initiative requires modifications to the state Constitution. In July, Jackson attorney Rob McDuff, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of two residents against Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann for approving a 2011 ballot initiative asking voters to decide if the word “person” in the constitution will include “every human being from the moment of life, fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.” Personhood
Mississippi, an anti-abortion group, collected 106,325 signatures supporting the initiative. The lawsuit claims the initiative violates section 273 of the state Bill of Rights, which states that a voter initiative “shall not be used for the proposal, modification or repeal or any portion of the bill of rights of this constitution.” “Not only are they modifying the bill of rights, they are proposing a new section,” McDuff told the Jackson Free Press this week. “The modification of an existing section, and the proposal of a new section clearly violates the constitution.” Attorney General Jim Hood’s office will represent Mississippi in the suit. Steve Crampton, an attorney with the Conservative law firm Liberty Counsel, will present arguments defending the personhood initiative. “The Mississippi Constitution currently protects persons; it just doesn’t define what a person is,” Crampton said. “This amendment simplify clarifies what person means. It is not creating any new right or modifying any existing rights. ... It’s a common occurrence in the law, for instance, that when courts are called upon to interpret statues they will supply definitions. What we are doing is the way … laws are interpreted anywhere.” Crawford said that the goal of the personhood amendment isn’t to determine what
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that definition would mean for legal interpretations. “All we are doing is saying, you have to recognize that (a fetus is) a living human being,” he said. “What the Legislature chooses to do with that fact is not our concern at this point. That is a question for another day.” McDuff disagreed. “The whole reason they went to the trouble to gather over 100,000 signatures is because they want to change the law,” he said. “If it didn’t need to change, they wouldn’t have gone through the trouble. This gives a definition of person that isn’t already in the Bill of Rights.” Section 14 in the state Bill of Rights states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property except by due process of law.” If the word “person” includes a fetus, it’s unclear if fetuses could own property, or if a woman would face charges for having a miscarriage or a legal abortion. The ACLU has filed similar lawsuits in Nevada, Missouri and Alaska over personhood ballot initiatives. In January, District Court Judge James T. Russell of Carson City, Nev., ruled against Personhood Nevada’s proposed amendment, stating that it was too vague for voters to understand its meaning. The ballot initiative would have asked voters if “the term ‘person’ applies to every human being.” In Missouri, an attempted initiative
would have asked voters if the state Constitution should be amended to define the word person as “the beginning of biological development and grant such person constitutional rights and access to courts under the equal protection, due process and open-courts provisions of the Missouri Constitution.” The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Personhood Missouri, but the petition did not receive enough signatures for the ballot. The Missouri Legislature, however, had already passed a bill in 1986 stating “the life of each human begins at conception” and that unborn children have protectable interests in “life, health and well being.” But the bill wasn’t enough to end abortions in Missouri because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. Missouri’s Catholic bishops issued a joint statement against Personhood’s 2010 proposed ballot initiative stating that like the existing law, it would do nothing to end abortions. “No state Constitution or state law can overturn provisions of the U.S. Constitution or interpretations of the U.S. Constitution by the Supreme Court,” the letter states. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Harrison hears the Mississippi case Oct. 7, and the losing party will “definitely” appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, McDuff said. Comment at www.jacksonfreepress.com.
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Personhood Initiative Heads to Court
opining, grousing & pontificating
Don’t Feed the Stalker
By now, everyone knows how horrifying, disgusting, racist and sometimes humorous the comments are under stories on The Clarion-Ledger website. They got so bad that Izzy Pellegrine decided to make a game of it, creating this BINGO card and posting it on her Facebook page. At the JFP, we were tickled to have our own square on there, and asked if we could reprint it. Enjoy, and no cheating now.
CLARION LEDGER WEBSITE COMMENT BINGO “I’m not a racist, but...”
5:1 or worse punctuation mark to sentence ratio
Wants tighter restrictions on ‘welfare queens’ or poor people having babies
Still supports the sagging pants ordinance
The death penalty is the answer
FREE for being able to read this crap without throwing up
Reference to the good ol’ days
$elf cens0rs own curse w*ords
Only supports freedom of speech when proudly “not PC”
Is not biased, is simply concerned for someone’s salvation
Progress Is a Process
October 6 - 12, 2010
mokey “Robinson” McBride: “Greetings, fellow members of the Ghetto Science community. I want to thank you for your support and tolerance during my term as congressman for the Ghetto Science Team District 7 and 2/3rds. As you know, election time is right around the corner. And I’m here to give a friendly reminder about the progress made under my administration. “A year and a half ago, the Ghetto Science Community received a generous stimulus grant from the government. I made sure that my administrative staff distributed the stimulus grant money fairly and equally to fund and continue the successful operation of businesses, schools, financial institutions, infrastructure projects, transportation, etc. We stretched that dollar and made it holler, and pinched that penny until it said ‘Ouch!’ “My administration’s management of the grant money enabled a business like Rev. Cletus Car Sales Church to make plenty of affordable hybrid hoopty cars. The money also helped compensate Rev. Cletus’ deacon mechanics for the repair of Double Dutch church buses for our Ghetto Rapid Transit System. Look at how far Hair Did University School of Cosmetology has come: The education stimulus money turned this beauty school into an accredited vocational college. And have you noticed how our infrastructure has improved? No more uneven and cracked sidewalks or pothole-ridden parking lots at the Funky Ghetto Mall, thanks to the stimulus grant. “Please remember that progress is a process. Therefore, I need your support in the upcoming election to make this process progress even more.”
Convinced that the liberals are taking over!!
Whatever it is, the Tea Party can fix it
Randomly lashing out at the JFP
Addresses the author of the article by name
Some brave soul tries to explain basic sociology to the masses. Continues for more than four comments.
Tried to use a scholarly reference but was unable to spell it
Scripture: a perfectly sound basis for public policy
Wants “less government” and/or more religion in public schools
Whatever it is, it’s Obama’s fault
E-mail letters to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax to 601-510-9019, or mail to P.O. Box 5067, Jackson, Miss., 39296. Include daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Or, write a 300-600-word “Your Turn” and send it by e-mail, fax or mail above with a daytime phone number. All submissions are subject to fact checks.
ince the JFP launched eight years ago, we have witnessed many disturbing examples of vicious and personal attacks and libelous smears on websites, our own and others, and usually by people who refuse to use their real name on their electronic missives. We’ve also witnessed how the attacks are usually aimed at women who express opinions or who are in public or office. Almost every female editorial staffer at the JFP has been the target of fixations, sometimes leading to chains of phone calls, messages, persistent e-mails, and posts on local blogs and websites. They almost always veer from a civil discussion of our work into personal insults that have little to do with the work that we do, and often containing outright lies. (Women here are routinely called “sluts,” “bitches” and “liars” by bloggers not using their real names). Experts warn, in particular, about repeated fixation on victims’ bodies or personal lives. Our tactic has been to ignore the harassment so as not to give the perpetrators the attention they desperately desire. However, we have grown increasingly disturbed as we have heard reports of the more persistent offenders spreading their attentions to other women around the city, sometimes in person and seldom using their real names when they harass or “flirt” (such as using a fake Facebook name to message a woman about what she was wearing earlier). Ronni Mott’s award-winning work on domestic abuse continues this issue with a look at stalking, which is usually aimed toward women. Due to her research, we are now aware that patterns behind stalking and harassment are important to expose before they lead to violence and outright threats. We have discovered that state law is now on the side of the victim. Mississippi has an abysmal history on stalking—it used to be that a cop might “have a talk” with a stalker rather then arresting him, leaving no repercussions unless and until he committed a violent act. That left the burden on the victim to “ignore” him. Now we have a stalking law with teeth, and cyberstalking is a felony in Mississippi, meaning prison time and stiff fines. We urge Jacksonians to read up on the cyberstalking law (Sec. 97-45-15 of the Mississippi Code). Note it does not have to contain outright physical threats; repeated electronic harassment qualifies, as does allowing others to use your tech tools to harass specific people. In our city’s growing collective effort to stop domestic abuse, we must work together to unveil the cyberstalkers who threaten, lie and harass victims “repeatedly” (to take a word from state law). Report any and all suspected harassment to the attorney general’s cybercrime unit (601-576-4281) so they can check it out. Victims, keep PDFs, printouts, recordings and notes on any potential violation. Be on notice: If you don’t want to be considered a cyberstalker, do not indulge in personal attacks and creepy public fixations. And for God’s sake, never encourage a harasser. You don’t want someone’s blood on your hands.
EDITORIAL Managing Editor Ronni Mott News Editor Lacey McLaughlin Associate Editor Natalie A. Collier Senior Reporter Adam Lynch Reporter Ward Schaefer Events Editor Latasha Willis Music Listings Editor Natalie Long Assistant to the Editor ShaWanda Jacome Writers Quita Bride, Lisa Fontaine Bynum, David Dennis Jr., Scott Dennis, Bryan Flynn, Carl Gibson, Garrad Lee, Lance Lomax, Anita Modak-Truran, Larry Morrisey, Chris Nolen, Robin Oâ€™Bryant, Brandi Herrera, Casey Purvis, Tom Ramsey, Doctor S, Ken Stiggers, Jackie Warren Tatum, Valerie Wells, Byron Wilkes Editorial Interns Lauren Collins, Jesse Crow, Julia Hulitt, Holly Perkins, Briana Robinson Consulting Editor JoAnne Prichard Morris
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY Editorial Designer Kristin Brenemen Advertising Designer Lydia Chadwick Production Designer Christi Vivar Editorial Cartoonist Chris Zuga Photographers Jert-rutha Crawford, Josh Hailey, Charles A. Smith, Jaro Vacek, Amile Wilson Design Interns Michael Brouphy, Holly Harlan, Chanelle ReneeÂ´ Photo Intern Jerrick Smith
SALES AND OPERATIONS Sales Director Kimberly Griffin Account Executive Randi Ashley Jackson Account Executive and Distribution Manager Adam Perry Events and Marketing Coordinator Shannon Barbour Accounting Montroe Headd Marketing Interns Xavia McGrigg, Nikki Williams Distribution Lynny Bradshaw, Cade Crook, Clint Dear, Linda Hamilton, Matt Heindl, Aimee Lovell, Steve Pate, Jim Poff, Jennifer Smith
ONLINE Web Producer Korey Harrion
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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 cityâ€™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. ÂŠ Copyright 2010 Jackson Free Press Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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tâ€™s a postcard-perfect October afternoon, and I am outside enjoying it with my young son. Today, we are sitting together beneath a river birch tree enjoying a cool fall breeze. We make motor noises in stereo as we plow the dirt with our wooden toy tractors. There are no repetitious attempts on my part to capture a perfect Facebook photo today. I am seizing the deeper moment, slowing down and cherishing time with my child. The simple act of playing in the dirt with trucks and tractors gives me a feeling of being connected with him across time. Not quite 2 years old, his primary means of communication consist of pointing, laughing, crying and an assortment of precious, inquisitive gestures. He watches as I take a small stick and pick up a paperthin piece of birch bark from the ground by poking the stick through it. Immediately, he finds his own stick and copies my actions, resulting in oodles of pleasure-induced laughter. I am reminded that everything I do and say in his presence is stored in his growing â€œmimic register.â€? What a responsibility all of us share in living our lives as good examples for all the young, impressionable minds around us, whether our children or not. They are the future, and I wonder what the defining moments of their generation will be. I also wonder how well we, as the generation they started out mimicking, will have done in our examples of love, tolerance, compassion and our ability to learn from mistakes. Children notice everything, from how much you smile, to how you treat the neighborâ€™s dog when he visits your yard. My wife was sick for an extended period of time, and our son even started pretending to be nauseated. Kids miss nothing and, Iâ€™m told, tell everything. I am fortunate to have two loving parents who will celebrate their 57th anniversary next month. The month after will be my in-lawâ€™s 49th. My wife and I are truly blessed with parents who loved not only each other but their children as well. I worry about kids who are exposed to domestic violence. I would plead with any parent or guardian to get out of an abusive relationship. Any abusive relationshipâ€”whether physically abusive, sexually abusive, verbally abusive or emotionally
abusiveâ€”can be detrimental to the kids involved. Years ago, I was attending a seminar with many group exercises. At one point we were asked to describe a defining moment in our past when an elder set a truly positive and lasting example in our life. One young man stood up and bravely told the story of the day he came out to his parents. He explained how he had been very nervous about sharing this news of his sexual orientation with them because of the rejection that he feared would result. Tears came to his eyes and to the eyes of all listening as he told us that his parents loved him unconditionally, and his fears of abandonment had not been realized. Not all grown-up provide such an example of love. Some give little thought to the safety of their own life, let alone someone elseâ€™s. There was a little girl in Morton, not quite 5 years old, who was playing outside and noticed a group of kids across the street. She waited in the driveway before attempting to cross because of an oncoming car. The carâ€™s driver, later found to be under the influence of alcohol, saw the group of kids on one side and, in his over-compensating swerve to miss them, hit the little brown-eyed girl who was waiting in her driveway. In an instant, this driver, who didnâ€™t bother to stop at the scene, had affected this young childâ€™s life forever. The little girl required many bone-reconstructive surgeries. She was in a body cast for about a year, after which she had to learn to walk all over again. Being only 5, she will face future hip replacements as she grows up. She was even told that she would never have children of her own. Thirty-six years have passed since the little brown-eyed girl was hit by that car, and now, God willing, she is only days away from welcoming a little girl into the world. She is my wife of 12 years, and we cherish every moment with our young son, and we look forward to the birth of our daughter. I make a lot of mistakes as a parent. I do hope, however, that I will never make the mistake of forgetting just how precious a childâ€™s life really is. I also hope that I never lose sight of my responsibility to offer positive content for the mimic registers of all children with whom I come in contact.
I would plead with any parent or guardian to get out of an abusive relationship.
CORRECTION In the Fall GOOD Issue (Vol. 9, Issue 3), we provided incorrect URLs for the Fondren Renaissance Foundation and the Association of South Jackson Neighborhoods. The correct URLs are fondren.org and asjn.org, respectively. In addition, the author of â€œConflictsâ€? was incorrectly identified. The author is Quita Bride. The Jackson Free Press apologizes for the errors.
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___________________________ We offer weekly classes in Jackson and Clinton for children & adults, as well as a monthly cĂŠilĂ series. Contact us for more information. Teaching & choreography by Catherine Bishop, MFA, TCRG, is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, & in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. JID is a member of the Mississippi Artist Roster, & is grateful for support from the Mississippi Arts Commission.
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$OES ANYONE KNOW THESE PEOPLE 0LEASE HELP US Â˝ ND OUR GRANDPARENTS
4HE CHILD ON THE BEACH IS MY MOTHER *UNE ,A 0EARLE "ARCLAY WHO WAS LEFT ON A DOORSTEP IN -ACON -3 IN 3HE WAS TOLD THAT THE WOM AN WITH HER WAS HER GODMOTHER $O YOU KNOW WHO THIS WOMAN MIGHT HAVE BEEN 4HE OTHER PICTURE IS OF %STELLE 6AN :ANDT "ARCLAY THE ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF THE YOUNG CHILD %STELLE MARRIED $R $AVID 3HANKS "ARCLAY IN *ACK SON #OUNTY -/ IN %STELLE MAY HAVE A HALF SISTER WITH THE LAST NAME OF ,AMB -Y SISTERS AND ) THINK ABOUT THIS DAILY AND ONE DAY HOPE WE CAN GET SOME INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BIOLOGICAL GRAND PARENTS )F YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION YOU CAN SHARE IT WOULD MEAN SO MUCH TO US 0LEASE CALL 0EARL AT EMAIL TO PGRIEGO@AOLCOM
Editor in Chief Donna Ladd Publisher Todd Stauffer
Stalkers Assault by Creating Fear
October 6 - 12, 2010
Adrienne Klasky knew for years that Michael Graham would kill her. She just didn’t know when it would happen. Klasky, daughter of a prominent family in the Mississippi Gulf Coast city of Pascagoula, was by all accounts, a lovely and loving person. Most of all, she loved life, her friends say. Nancy Northern, her niece, remembers her aunt fondly. “She was a lot of fun,” she said. Klasky wanted to be a mother. Like many women, though, she struggled with her weight, and romance and self-esteem always seemed just out of reach. She knew Graham from Pascagoula High School, but for Klasky and her friends, Graham and the crowd he ran with were from “the wrong side of the tracks.” Her friends and family were taken aback when Klasky married Graham in October 1980. They thought she could have done so much better. Eleven months after they married, Klasky gave birth to baby Michael in September 1981. Kevin was born less than three years later, in January 1984. Graham, however, never quite fit into Klasky’s social world. People who visited 16 their home describe him as morose. He
didn’t speak to visitors; instead, he parked himself in front of the TV in his rocking chair, isolating himself and ignoring everyone else. From the day Northern met Graham, he scared her. “I just didn’t care for him,” she said. “Something about his eyes.” Graham apparently had trouble holding down a job. For a while, he worked in Klasky’s family business, Brumfield’s Department Store, selling men’s clothes. Her dad, Lyle Klasky, reached out to his contacts in the community to find other employment for the father of his grandsons, but no one remembers Graham having a job for more than a few months at a time. “I remember him and Adrienne fighting about that,” Northern said. It wasn’t long after Klasky became a mom that she began telling friends that Graham was abusing her, most of it psychological, but he also pushed her around. On at least one occasion, Klasky had marks on her neck, evidence that her husband had tried to strangle her. She didn’t report the abuse to the police, though. In Pascagoula, Klasky and her family were well known, and the young mother was embarrassed about her failed marriage, not
by Ronni Mott
Illustrations by Andy Childress
wanting to bring attention to it and cause her family pain. Klasky stuck it out for nearly six years before calling it quits. She and Graham separated March 19, 1986. She went to her family and friends for support, back to her tight-knit community. That’s when Graham began stalking. They Couldn’t Do Anything “A lot of (victims) are afraid to leave,” said Lt. Tammy Gaines of the Hinds County Sheriff ’s office victim’s assistance program, adding that most stalkers know their victims. Leaving a violent relationship often precipitates additional violence or escalates the partner’s violent tendencies, making it an extremely dangerous time for a victim. In 1986, Mississippi, like every other state in America, had no laws against stalking. When Klasky reported Graham’s threats to the police, they told her they couldn’t do anything unless he physically hurt her. Just following and scaring her half to death wasn’t illegal, they told her. Pascagoula’s police chief at the time, Larry Lee, apologized to Klasky, but said that technically Graham hadn’t broken any laws.
California was the first state to adopt anti-stalking laws in 1990 after a stalker murdered “My Sister Sam” TV actress Rebecca Schaeffer in July of the previous year. Schaeffer was 21 when Robert John Bardo shot her in the chest when Schaeffer answered her door. Bardo had been stalking Schaeffer for three years, off and on, and had a history of stalking other celebrities. In Mississippi, celebrity stalking is usually limited to people who work in the media, because they are the local celebrities, said Lt. Jeffery Scott of the Hinds County Sheriff ’s office. It’s much more likely that the perpetrator and victim know each other. “It’s more of a love type of thing,” he said. In 1992, the U.S. Congress tasked then-Attorney General William Barr to conduct research on the problem and to develop a model for anti-stalking laws for the states. The result of that research provided model code the following year, and the federal government encouraged all state governments to adopt felony stalking laws. By September 1993, all 50 states and TERRORISM, see page 19
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TERRORISM, from page 16
Adrienne Klasky: Dec. 12, 1955 to April 7, 1989.
What Is Stalking?
talking and domestic violence are about power and control. No one who truly loves someone else will purposely hurt that person or make him or her fear for their life. No one has the right to terrorize or hurt you. “Everyone should be treated with dignity, fairness and respect,” said Lt. Tammy Gaines of the Hinds County Sheriff’s office. Here are a few of the behaviors associated with stalking: • Following, whether physically or through cyberspace with GPS tracking. • Obscure behaviors, such as rearranging items, just making sure the victim knows the stalker is out there. • A person gives you flowers or gifts, even after you tell them you’re not interested and refuse other advances. • He or she calls or texts you several times a day and won’t stop. • A person seems to consistently show up in places you go: restaurants, clubs and other social events. Coincidence? Maybe not.
• You find him or her waiting for you in places you frequent, such as your workplace or a child’s day-care center. • He or she has information about you that isn’t widely known. For example, he tells you what you wore last night or what time you got home, although you never saw him. • Posting private or intimate information or photos on social-networking sites. Note that cyberstalking carries additional felony charges and even tougher penalties. For more information, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website (ncadv.org) or contact the Mississippi Attorney General Domestic Violence Division at 601-359-4251. To report possible cyberstalking, call 601-576-4281. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
specifically at perpehimself, but everyone trators who threaten believed it was Graham; to kill their victims sometimes they saw him or a third person, or as he called from public use deadly weapons phone booths. to punctuate their Still, at the time, threats. Aggravated none of that was illegal. stalking carries a five On March 30, year, $3,000 maxi1987, a year after they mum punishment, separated, and eight and adds another year months after their diand another $1,000 if vorce came through, Michael Graham cold-bloodedly the victim is under the murdered his ex-wife, Adrienne Klasky finally secured a Klasky, after stalking her for age of 18. protection order against three years subsequent to their The penalties separation and divorce. Graham after a friend aren’t harsh enough witnessed him hitting for some. Northern her with enough force chuckled low when that her glasses flew asked what she thought they should be. “I off her head. Now, police had a reason to don’t know if I can say that,” she said. “… give her a bit of security, even though they They need to be locked up. It’s scary. How didn’t arrest Graham. do you know that somebody’s not just go- The stalking didn’t stop. It became ing to snap one day and kill somebody?” so pervasive that it turned into a joke, “When you couple domestic violence something that just happened all the time. with the propensity to stalk, you have some- “There goes Adrienne,” someone would body who’s potentially lethal,” said Sandy say, “and there’s Michael, following her,” Middleton, executive director of the Center another would chime in. Over silent phone for Violence Prevention in Pearl. “… It all lines, folks would tell him to show his face comes from that root belief that they have or come on by. a right to do this, and it’s appropriate behavior,” she added, saying that stalkers and ‘Assault by Creating Fear’ abusers display the same type of obsessive, Stalking covers a wide spectrum of controlling and dominating conduct. threatening behavior to intimidate victims. Middleton believes the new law is solid, Among those behaviors are: making unbut that it will require some new thinking and wanted phone calls (including hang-ups); new questions for law enforcement. “I think sending unsolicited or unwanted letters, eeveryone’s taking it seriously,” she said. mails or text messages; following (including Graham, like many stalkers, didn’t tracking by GPS) or spying; showing up at limit himself to just stalking Klasky. He places without a legitimate reason; waiting also stalked her family and friends. Phone for victims in places they frequent; giving records, lost during Hurricane Katrina, or leaving unwanted gifts or flowers; and showed a repeated pattern of calls from posting private, intimate or false informadifferent pay phones in the Pascagoula and tion on the Internet, in public places or by Moss Point areas, first to Klasky, then to word of mouth. her business number, her friends and to her Technology makes stalking that much family, perhaps a half-dozen calls one right TERRORISM, see page 20 19 after the other. He never spoke or identified jacksonfreepress.com
that the person who’s doing the stalking is doing it to put the victim in fear of death or serious bodily injury. It’s not enough just to terrorize the person so that they’re scared to walk out the door; they have to be scared of death. And that makes it a very difficult hurdle to prosecute.” In July of this year, the state adopted an amended stalking law, making it much easier to prosecute a stalker. The law now states that stalking includes “conduct (that) would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her own safety, to fear for the safety of another person, or to fear damage or destruction of his or her property.” The new law also added a tougher felony aggravated-stalking subsection, aimed
COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
the District of Columbia had put stalking laws on their books. Mississippi’s first stalking law, adopted in 1992, provided for a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000 for a first-time offender. Under the original law, a stalker’s victim had to prove that he or she was in imminent fear of losing her life to have police and the courts move to protect her, a nearly impossible standard to prove. “[O]ur stalking law is tied to putting the victim in fear,” said Assistant Attorney General Heather Wagner, director of the domestic-violence division in the Mississippi attorney general’s office last year. “It goes a little further than that. You have to prove
TERRORISM, from page 19
October 6 - 12, 2010
worse. Stalkers can access their victim’s computer for personal or sensitive information, install stealth software where they can see every keystroke their victim makes and steal money or credit electronically. They can also post photos or intimate details on social networking sites where the information can be instantly seen by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. “Stalking and domestic violence are not limited to any one group. It crosses race, gender, economic status,” Scott said, relating an incident of an attorney being stalked by a woman with whom he had ended a relationship. Eventually, the woman threatened to kill him, his new girlfriend and then herself. “This guy was scared, scared for his life,” Scott recalled. While most stalking perpetrators are male, it’s not uncommon behavior for women. With more than 3.4 million reported incidents of stalking in 2006, more than 2.5 million involved female victims ,according to a 2009 Department of Justice study. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that 87 percent of stalkers are male. And men usually stalk women: 94 percent of female victims have male perpetrators, while 60 percent of male victims have female stalkers. In Jackson, guys on the streets call their female stalkers “kill me’s,” Scott said. “She’ll be outside knocking on the window,” he said, rapping on the arm of his chair for effect. Pitching his
voice higher, like a woman’s, he mocked: “You’re gonna to have to kill me before I’m gonna leave.” More than half of all stalking incidents are never reported to police. That
rate is slightly higher for male victims (63 percent) than for women (59 percent). In the DOJ study, which did not use the word “stalking” in its survey, fewer than half of the respondents who had been victims of stalking behaviors identified them as such. In other words, victims don’t recognize illegal behavior when it comes to stalking. And not knowing that they have the law on their side, they believe they are powerless to
stop their perpetrators. But telling someone “no”—whether it’s through ending a relationship, refusing visits or gifts, or simply telling someone to stop following, calling or e-mailing you— escalates harassment to the crime of stalking when that person refuses to stop. “Once you tell a person ‘No. I don’t want to be bothered; we’re done; our time is over,’ that’s when it becomes stalking. Even though they haven’t been violent, continued telephone calls, text messages, e-mails, just all of a sudden showing up … that’s stalking, even if it’s passive.” Scott said, calling it “assault by creating fear.” Not all stalkers make overt threats to their victims, but about 43 percent do. The types of threats range from saying he or she will kill, hit, slap or harm the victim in some way, to say he or she will kill him or herself, to harming the victim’s family, friends, co-workers or even pets. About a quarter of those who stalk will also damage a victim’s property. Identity theft is not uncommon. “Many times, once we bring a victim into shelter, we’ll start to see abusers start to stalk her family. Many times, it will be her parents,” Middleton said, recalling a case where the abuser broke into the victim’s parent’s home. “… We also see these offenders stalking other family members, even pets. We had one guy who would shoot at a victim’s horses, literally trying to terrify her horses. If he can’t get to the victim, a lot of time it will bleed over into
the family or the pets.” Their children bound Klasky and Graham together, even as Graham’s stalking behavior grew progressively worse. After he handed Graham a contempt citation for violating the protective order in March 1988, a judge ordered that Graham and Klasky had to exchange their boys for visits in front of the Pascagoula Police Station on Live Oak Avenue. News reports of the time say that Graham attacked his attorney, Richard Hamilton, now deceased, when he lost a case. Graham wanted a refund of what he’d paid the lawyer. By far the most common scenario for stalking is when the victim and perpetrator have been intimate. Three out of four victims know their stalker in some capacity, and incidents of stalking are highest for divorced or separated couples. About a third of stalkers become violent in some way, with about 20 percent using a weapon. Twenty-one percent of victims report being attacked by their stalker. Of men who murder their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends, most— approximately 75 to 90 percent—stalk their victims before killing them. On July 22, 1988, Graham was hit with another contempt citation for harassment. Moving beyond following and calling, he began spitting on Klasky’s car and the cars of her friends and family. This time he spent a few months in jail. TERRORISM, see page 23
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Pure Terror On April 7, 1989, a sunny Friday morning, Klasky drove her mother, Barbara Klasky, who didn’t drive, to the hair salon. It was promising to be a beautiful spring day, if a little chilly. Temperatures were struggling toward 70 degrees. It was just over three years since she had separated from Graham; the third anniversary of their divorce was still a few months away. Klasky’s friends speculate that Graham’s behavior may have been getting too extreme even for his family. Just a day or two earlier, one of Graham’s brothers filed a mental writ to have him committed, but the sheriff ’s department couldn’t find him. By that time, Klasky’s life had turned into a nightmare of constant harassment from her ex-husband, and she went to great lengths to try to avoid him. She knew that he had guns, and he’d threatened to kill her many times. At 33, she was back living in her parent’s house with her two boys, afraid to live on her own. The one overwhelmingly common element of stalking victims is terror. Stalking victims never know what to expect from their perpetrators and whether their behavior will become violent. And not knowing is terrifying. Stalking victims often report symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder: anxiety, mild to severe depression,
social dysfunction, sleeplessness and nightmares. Experts call the combination of stress-induced ailments “inescapable shock trauma,” because of its immediate nature, and because victims are unable to stop or change their perpetrator’s actions. About 30 percent of female victims and 20 percent of male victims end up in psychological counseling. Graham’s relentless, long-term and escalating pattern of stalking is textbook behavior: On average, stalking continues for 1.8 years. When the stalker and victim have been intimate partners, stalking goes on even longer, for an average of 2.2 years. About 11 percent of victims in the DOJ study experienced stalking for five years or more. More than a half of stalking victims say they have lost time from work, and about of a third of them said they were afraid the stalking would never stop. People move, change phone numbers and more to get away from their stalkers. Around 10 a.m., Klasky dropped her mom back at the house and left to go to work at Brumfield’s on Delmas Avenue where she was a buyer. As she sat in her mother’s big black sedan on Jackson Avenue waiting for the light at Pascagoula Street to change, Graham pulled his familiar babyblue Ford F-150 pickup truck up beside her driver’s side door, in the lane meant for oncoming traffic. Without hesitating, Graham propped
a 12-gauge shotgun in the open window of his truck’s passenger side and pulled the trigger. Hit at point-blank range in the left temple, witnesses say the blast blew Klasky’s face off. Her attorney, Jack Pickett, whose office was nearby, did not recognize her. Her father, Lyle Klasky, his store just a couple of blocks away, identified his daughter at the scene. After three years of stalking and harassing, Michael Graham had made good on his promises. Adrienne Klasky was dead. Postscript Graham calmly drove from the crime scene to his attorney’s office, who convinced him to turn himself in to police. He was convicted of murdering Klasky Oct. 10, 1989, and received a life sentence. Heartbroken, Klasky’s mother, Barbara Klasky, passed away 10 months after the murder at age 65. Her father, Lyle, died in 1998 at age 77. “I saw my grandparents age 20 years overnight,” Northern said, later adding, “He destroyed my family.” Northern, a 17-year-old high-school junior at the time of the murder, and her mother, Klasky’s sister Sydney Klasky, helped Klasky’s parents care for the couple’s children. Sydney died in 2002, the day the youngest boy graduated from high school. Both boys are currently successful businessmen and are doing well, Northern said. “They want to forget about it.” Graham received three parole hearings, in 1999, 2001 and 2003. At each of the hearings, Klasky’s friends and family testified, urging the parole board to keep him behind bars. Graham attempted to sue the people who testified against him, the Mississippi Press Register, then-Gov. Kirk Fordice and a handful of others for slander and defamation of character. On April 14, 2004, the Mississippi Department of Corrections transferred Graham to the Governor’s Mansion as a trusty, duty generally reserved for inmates with good records after conviction. Four years later, on July 19, 2008, Gov. Haley Barbour commuted Graham’s sentence, effectively setting him free on parole through an indefinite suspension of his life sentence. Barbour did not contact the parole board or any of Klasky’s friends or family prior to his decision, and although many of Klasky’s friends and family—including her son, Michael—pleaded with the governor to reverse his decision through letters and calls, Barbour has never personally responded to any of them, nor to any media requests, to this day. Barbour’s spokesman Pete Smith said at the time that Graham “performed well and (proved) to be a diligent workman” at the mansion. Although the MDOC does not release the whereabouts of its parolees, Klasky’s friends and family believe Graham currently lives in or near Jackson or Hinds County, possibly in Ridgeland. Mississippi Rep. Brandon Jones, DPascagoula, was 12 years old the day Gra-
Stay Safe I
f you are being stalked, know that you have the right to live without fear in your life. You have the right to request law enforcement protection and to seek a protective order from the courts. Keeping yourself safe means putting distance between you and your stalker. If you are in danger, call 911. • Take it seriously. Stalking can become lethal. • Don’t be ashamed to report stalking. A lot of people are embarrassed, but stalking and domestic violence can happen to anyone. It is not your fault. In Hinds County, contact the victim’s assistance program (601-974-2933) for help in acquiring a protective order and to provide other support as necessary. Even if you suspect it, call. “If you think you might be (being stalked), don’t ignore it,” Heather Wager says. • Document everything. Keep track of the dates and times of the events; note what was said, if anything, and exactly what happened. Get names and contact information of any witnesses. • Tell your friends and family what’s going on. Give someone close to you your schedule and tell him or her when you will be doing something unusual. • Tell your employer. Give him or her a photo of your stalker if possible, so that your stalker can be evicted from the premises, if necessary. • Try to change your routine and your travel routes to and from work and other regular stops. • Do not speak to your stalker. If necessary, change your phone number and e-mail address. • Do not “friend” anyone you don’t know on social-networking websites. • Find someone knowledgeable about domestic violence and stalking who can help you through it, whether a social worker, an attorney or both. • Get support from people who have been there. It can be an ordeal. Join a support group if possible. • Prepare an emergency escape plan for you and your children, and have a safe place to go if necessary. For additional information, call the Domestic Violence Legal Help Line at 877-609-9911 or the National Hotline for domestic violence at 800-799-SAFE (7233). ham murdered Klasky. As a result of the community’s outrage over Barbour’s decision, Jones has become an outspoken opponent of domestic violence, authoring several bills toughening Mississippi’s laws protecting victims, including the stalking law mentioned above. “The more people are aware of domestic violence and stalking and stalking laws and what to do—maybe it won’t happen to someone else,” Northern said. “… I just can’t believe Barbour did what he did. I’m 23 disgusted with him, just disgusted.” jacksonfreepress.com
TERRORISM, from page 20
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Local rapper Coke Bumaye says his hip-hop tells the stories beyond his windowsill. His music, he says, is for “his people.”
by Garrad Lee
gagement, even a revolutionary potential, in rap and hip-hop. They couldn’t be more wrong. By reinforcing the stereotypes that long hindered blacks, and by teaching young blacks that a thuggish adversarial stance is the properly ‘authentic’ response to a presumptively racist society, rap retards black success.” On the other side of the debate, hiphop historian and former senior editor of “The Source” Bakari Kitwana says hip-hop is “the greatest major cultural movement of our time” that provided “the foundation for a resounding young black mainstream presence that went far beyond rap music itself.” So which is it? Is hip-hop, as Chuck D famously said, “CNN for black people,” also letting the world know what goes on in the streets, the neglected places? Or is it a cultural pariah, causing the downfall of society, as hip-hop’s critics would have it? These questions frame the discourse that takes place around hip-hop. As the genre has infiltrated the mainstream, concerns about hip-hop’s place and meaning in the world have never been fully answered. In essence, hip-hop’s greater cultural significance has never been agreed on, and a host of voices contribute to the dialogue. One thing’s certain: When talking about hip-hop, the conversation is about far more than just beats, rhymes and life. Hip-hop’s Genealogy To fully appreciate the complexity of hip-hop discourse, start at the beginning. “Hip-hop started as a response to the socioeconomic conditions in New York. People were having fun so they wouldn’t be out shooting each other,” PyInfamous, a Jacksonbased rapper, says. The early days of hip-hop were centered on the DJ and his ability to throw the hypest, loudest party. Against the backdrop of rotting urban settings, cuts in education budgets—especially arts and music programs—and alarming white flight that decimated inner-city tax bases, DJ progenitors such as Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash provided soundtracks for the parties that celebrated life in the face of harsh conditions. As such, hip-hop has a “revolutionary quality, a rebellious quality,” PyInfamous says. The other side of hip-hop is that it’s also partly rooted in social and political awareness and activism. “For many activists, the creation of hip-hop amid social devastation is in itself a political act,” writes hip-hop scholar Angela Ards in “Organizing the Hip-Hop
Chuck D, the front man of the once largely successful hip-hop group Public Enemy, has often been media’s “go to guy” on all things hip-hop.
Generation.” But even this is a contentious point. Many hip-hoppers are proud of the legacy of political and social action that hip-hop founders left us with, and many scholars use this to point to hip-hop’s cultural significance. Critics also point to its social and political roots, however, to criticize hip-hop. The argument goes that hip-hop, in abandoning its roots over the years, has lost any relevancy as a revolutionary voice for the people. Instead, hip-hop has become the problem, influencing generations of children to emulate a life of violence, misogyny and bad grammar. What are the critics really saying? “The discussion on hip-hop is really a discussion on race, with the familiar players in their familiar positions of power,” hip-hop scholar Tricia Rose argues. “Over the last three decades, the public conversation has decidedly moved toward an
easy acceptance of black ghetto existence and the belief that black people themselves are responsible for creating ghettos and for choosing to live in them, thus absolving the most powerful segments of society from any responsibility in the creation and maintenance of them,” she writes in “The Hip-Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip-Hop and Why it Matters.” For Rose, the media, in blaming rappers for the problems, frame popular discourse on rap in a way that allows those in charge to perpetuate the notion that black people are responsible for their own predicament, absolving the white power structure of responsibility for the way millions of people live in the U.S. “You can’t say that hip-hop causes the conditions. Hip-hop is used as an excuse to criticize the ghetto,” 25 Coke Bumaye says. jacksonfreepress.com
ake Records,” a mysterious voice says. The music drops, and the chorus begins, “It’s bigger than hiphop, hip-hop, hip-hop!” A crowd of hip-hop heads inevitably goes wild. On any given night, at countless hip-hop shows and clubs, crowds everywhere sing along as DJs play this popular refrain from one of political hip-hop’s favorite groups, Dead Prez. It is often one of those moments that, if you are a part of it, really makes you feel like you are a member of something bigger than yourself. Part of a movement, even. Considering that it has been more than 10 years since the seminal rappers released the song “Hip-Hop” in 2000 on their debut album, “Let’s Get Free,” the idea that there is more to hip-hop than meets the untrained ear (and eye) resonates with more and more fans over time. “Hip-Hop” is one part rallying cry, one part party anthem and one part complex social commentary. The duality of Dead Prez’s song represents the duality that has been a constituent part of hip-hop, from its humble beginnings to the present day, when everyone has an opinion on rap music’s effect on society. Jackson rapper Coke Bumaye, whose lyrics strike a balance between confident braggadocio and gritty social commentary, sums it up best: “It’s like the metaphor of the child looking out the window. I’m just jotting down what I see. Am I wrong for writing it down, or are the powers that be outside the window wrong for letting it go on?” With his Socratic turnabout, Bumaye’s metaphor presents the debate that rages in and around hip-hop, from the halls of academia to the pundits in the mainstream media and on the streets everywhere. In “How Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back,” conservative social commentator and author John McWhorter writes: “Many writers and thinkers see a kind of informed political en-
courtesy Chuck D
What’s Eating Hip-Hop?
DIVERSIONS|music from page 25
Hip-hop is what people believe it is, Jason Thompson, aka PyInfamous, argues. It’s a party. It’s socially aware. It is what its audience needs it to be.
The Media “America wants people to assimilate, and when they don’t, they get criticized,” PyInfamous says. Further, he explains, the media don’t “understand hip-hop because they don’t understand the complexities of African American culture.” Agreeing with Tricia Rose, PyInfamous points to the idea that the media perpetuates racial stereotypes through its criticism of hiphop culture. Since hip-hop’s meaning has been left open-ended from its genesis, the media have been a major mouthpiece in attempting to shape the discourse surrounding the culture. One needs only to look at Bill O’Reilly’s tirade against Ludacris in 2002. O’Reilly, describing Ludacris as “vile” because his music “espouses violence, degrading sex and substance abuse,” was instrumental in having the rapper removed as a spokesman for Pepsi to be replaced by Ozzy Osbourne, who knows a
October 6 - 12, 2010
he first time I saw Jeremy Camp in concert was in 2008. Although he’s released countless songs featuring hard-hitting guitar riffs and upbeat tempos, the slower worship songs have really stuck with me over the years. Many have brought comfort during rough patches in my life and helped me keep hope in the midst of unrelenting darkness. It’s a combination of the lyrics and the passion with which he sings them that allows a listener to center herself and focus her thoughts on God. In August, Camp released his newest album, “We Cry Out: The Worship Project.” The album includes new songs like “Jesus Saves” and “Unrestrained,” as well as well-known worship songs from other
in popular culture to express their experiences, emotions and art. On the opposite side of the same coin, the world was given a never-before-held opportunity to gain insight into a world they did not know through the words of America’s “oppressed and disenfranchised,” PyInfamous says. In place of heeding the warnings coming from these spaces, the media latched onto the words of rappers to push their own agendas, as the scholars have shown. Bumaye’s advice to pundits? “Instead of criticizing, listen.” Rappers and Balance “Rappers are more influential than parents,” Bumaye says. “They look up to us,” he explains about rap artists and their fans. Mainstream media most often ignore the voices of rappers unless, of course, the media are latching on to another tale of violence or crime. And, coincidentally, it is the voices of rappers that have the most to say about what their music means, and what hip-hop’s relevance is as a larger cultural movement. “I am an artist. I hate being called a rapper,” says Treasure Troll, Jackson hip-hop artist and CEO of Treasure Chest Entertainment/ Goldmine Films. “We make artwork, we paint portraits.” He dislikes the label “rapper” because of the perceptions about rappers. “Now it has changed,” he says. “It’s more animated. It’s not real. It’s artificial. Kids hear it, believe it, and go out and do it. They are getting molded by something that ain’t real.” For Troll, the problem facing hip-hop in the present is that rappers have fallen off and do not take their roles within the community seriously. “We have to set an example,” he says. “We are grown men with kids of our own. We talk about our experiences. How we used to be, how far we came. We want to represent that transition to the kids to let them know they can make it, too.” “It’s all about balance,” PyInfamous says. “It is just to try to stay relevant to what’s going on in the world and enlighten people. ShaWanda Jacome
Camping at JA
thing or two himself about drug use and violence (ask any flying mammal that is willing to speak on the subject). What is the main difference between the “thug” Ludacris and “rocker” Ozzy Osbourne? In a 1993 study entitled “Constructing Racial Rhetoric: Media Depictions of Harm in Heavy Metal and Rap Music,” sociologist Amy Binder wrote, “In a cultural landscape marked by divergent perceptions of black youths versus white youths, different concerns emerged in the mainstream media about the impact of each group’s form of cultural expression.” In the study, Binder examined a wide range of music publications to determine the frameworks writers used to describe different types of music. She concluded that the media tend to frame perceptions of music along racial lines: Heavy-metal lyrics are framed to show that white youths are victims of the music, while hip-hop lyrics are framed to show that rappers are victimizers preying on the community. In showing the ways media perpetuate racial stereotypes, which, coincidentally, helps media outlets sell ad space during news shows, Binder gives credence to Rose’s arguments. “To many hot-headed critics of hip-hop, structural forms of deep racism, corporate influences, and the long-term effects of economic, social, and political disempowerment are not meaningfully related to rappers alienated, angry stories about life in the ghetto; rather, they are seen as ‘proof’ that black behavior creates ghetto conditions,” Binder writes. Through its framing practices, the media becomes complicit with the power structure to create a vicious cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies that is as old as the United States itself. Is it hip-hop’s fault, as a culture or movement, that media has hijacked its meanings, using them in an ugly, one-sided discourse on race? “We’ve been rapping for almost 40 years about this stuff,” Bumaye says. “What? Do they think we are lying?” For Bumaye, rap is a space created and maintained by young people of color, who, until hip-hop’s inception, had no such space
by ShaWanda Jacome artists remixed by Camp like “Mighty to Save” and “Everlasting God.” One especially powerful song is “Overcome,” written by Jon Egan of the Christian group Desperation Band. Egan penned the song after the 2007 shootings at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he is also the associate worship pastor. “During the recording, there was a spontaneous moment of worship. … I had to stop singing from all the emotion. We felt God’s Spirit was so thick in that room, and I would never say that lightly,” Camp said on his website about the experience. Visit the musician’s website at www.jeremycamp.com. He performs songs from his new album at the Jack-
Jeremy Camp raises his hands in worship at the Extraordinary Women Conference held at First Baptist Church in downtown Jackson earlier this spring.
son Academy Performing Arts Center Sunday, Oct. 10. The show starts at 7 p.m.; Carlos Whittaker and John Mark McMillan will also perform. Tickets are $20-$30 and are available for purchase at www.etix.com.
Social commentary to a beat. “I talk about the ills and the good stuff too,” he continues. “I try to balance that with having a good time.” For all these rappers, balance seems to be an important goal—be it balancing their roles as social commentators and role models or balancing media perceptions with reality. Ultimately, that is what hip-hop has been about since the beginning: Balancing the party with the reasons that caused the party in the first place. Balance, as it turns out, is what pushes the discourse on hip-hop forward. “We cannot truly deal with what is wrong in hip-hop without facing the broader cultures of violence, sexism and racism that deeply inform hip-hop, motivating the sales associated with these images.” Rose writes. “Yet those of us who fight for gender, sexual, racial and class justice also can’t defend the orgy of thug life we’re being fed simply because sexism and violence are everywhere.” Rose defines the hip-hop dialectic: To wrestle the power to define hip-hop from the media and critics, hip-hop’s allies, fans and artists must understand and know how to articulate the social issues that inform hip-hop. At the same time, hip-hop must constantly question itself, in its own terms, to seek answers and solutions to its problems, that, while not endemic to hip-hop are a part of it. The most glaring example of this is the issue of sexism in hip-hop. As the critics would have it, hip-hop is the main venue in popular culture for demeaning women, and many call for censorship and even out right bans on sexist images. Or, according to Rose, “It’s as if one is saying: Once imagery and music are ‘respectful,’ order will be restored.” To follow this simple line of reasoning, one has to ignore society’s rampant sexism to which hip-hop is both responding and adding to. Does hip-hop merely reflect, or is it responsible for sexism in society? Is it that simple for either side? Ultimately, it’s not; these are complex issues with complex questions. Realizing this is the only way to push the debate forward. Using Rose’s model, hip-hop can take back its right to define itself and follow its own legacy, by finding a balance between outside and self-criticism. “Hip-hop is neither the cultural beast that will destroy black America nor the political panacea that will save it, but is part of the ongoing African American struggle constantly reaching for higher and higher modes of liberation,” says hip-hop scholar Clarence Lusane. It is within these in-between spaces, where balance prevails, that the answers to hip-hop’s eternal questions might reside. Or maybe there are no answers to the questions, and hip-hop’s importance exists in the discourse that surrounds it. This discourse, if nothing else, has provided an arena to discuss issues of race, class and gender, while at the same time revealing inherent power structures. In the end, hip-hop is not only just a mirror in which we see ourselves, but it can also be an important force in shaping the future. If we can find the balance. Comment at jacksonfreepress.com.
by Tom Head
Gateway City Classic
ometimes I read fiction that I can’t accurately describe without sounding like I’m shilling for it. Jabari Asim’s “A Taste of Honey” (Broadway Books, 2010, $13) falls into that category. A journalist known primarily for his work in politics and black culture (“The N-Word,” 2007; “What Obama Means,” 2009), Asim has produced a first volume of fiction that is as potent and memorable as anything else you’ll read this year. It will probably be another decade or two before Asim’s fiction becomes essential reading in world lit circles, but I believe it will. This anthology is already a literary classic; when it is acknowledged as such (and it will be), that will be a formality. Dialogue, characterization and little else drive this collection of 16 lightly connected short stories centering on the lives of people living in Gateway City (a common nickname for Asim’s hometown of St. Louis) during the summer of 1967. The plots are simple, the scenery sparse, the style breezy and conversational. This is a nude figure study of the African American experience—very vivid, very focused, very full of life—and while it never blinks, it never lingers, either. And no character just has a story. Lifelong friends Rev. Miles Washington and Ananais Goode, the preacher and the gangster who reappear throughout the anthology, represent
different paths to power—both forged in resistance to white violence and racial terrorism. So there is something that should feel contrived about their backstory (“Ashes to Ashes”), but it doesn’t; it rings true. Maybe it’s because the histories of oppressed communities are full of stories about unlikely alliances that worked or maybe it’s just because Asim describes the two characters in such realistic terms. The author tells most of the stories from the point of view of 9-year-old Crispus Jones, who is shy, feels both awkward and awkwardlooking and idolizes his cool and attractive older brothers, Ed, 17, and Shom, 12. His life rushes through a crazy environment that might have destroyed his innocence, though he didn’t really have all that much to start with and, ultimately, makes him an extremely wise and perceptive young man. Crispus, like Asim, is an observer of human nature; he doesn’t actually do much in these stories, but his eyes and ears give him an active presence, a sort of literary quantum-observer effect. Most of all, he learns—and he’s such a well-written character that we can’t help but learn, too. What makes the stories particularly effective learning tools for Crispus, and for us, is the way they connect the abstract violence and interpersonal drama that we mostly just hear about, with the bottled-up tensions that we encounter in our everyday lives. Most litera-
ture, even great literature, seems to take place in its own world. But because real people who behave in real ways inhabit Asim’s stories, the events that unfold make a certain amount of sense and even start to look disconcertingly familiar. It’s hard not to read some of these stories and not look differently at the family in line in front of you at the grocery store, or at the cracked glass on the windshield of the pickup truck at the gas station. It infuses everyday experience with dramatic arcs, giving every stranger a backstory and every effect a cause. It reminds us how messy reality is. Reviewers of this book tend to focus on the historical significance of its stories. Lynna Williams at the Chicago Tribune, for example, writes of how the stories “take us inside the life of a family and community in a tumultuous time,” and author Chris Bohjalian writes of how “all of the hope and violence and seismic change that rocked the cities that summer ...
[is] all beautifully rendered.” I don’t doubt its efficacy as a time capsule, but the stories in “A Taste of Honey” have a more universal literary significance. This is, to a certain extent, what life has always looked like, what it looks like now and what it may always look like. Like all great literature, it’s bigger than history.
Mississippi’s Lizzie Borden In “The Legs Murder Scandal” (University Press of Mississippi, $30), author Hunter Cole tells the story about a wayward daughter, Ouida Keeton, having a salacious affair with a businessman in Laurel, Miss. The now-forgotten true soap opera has more twists and turns than the road on which the remains were disposed. On Wednesday, Oct. 6, see Hunter Cole at the William F. Winter Building (200 North St.) from noon to 1 p.m., and at Lemuria Books (4465 Interstate 55 N.) at 5 p.m.
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