By Madalyn McKnight
I always write about how proud I am to be a Mississippian. I attribute almost everything about who I am based on the fact my livelihood is here, the most outstanding people walking this earth were created here, and everything about my intellect stems from the education I have received here. This is the birthplace of American music, grassroots civil rights activism, and several billionaires have roots here. We are the blackest state in the union, but we get a bad rep for a lot of things. For this reason, the fight continues but we were handed a very symbolic victory last week that a native of this state has to write about.
Last weekend, our legislators passed a bill that would allow the confederate emblem on the state flag to be removed and a commission created to design new flag options that Mississippians will have a chance to vote on in November. We are the last state in this country to have any original confederate emblems on its flag and for a lot of people that was a source of pride. The emblem represented southern ‘heritage’ but a supporter dares not address the fact that it was and is used as a reminder the south thought the abuse of black bodies for capitalistic greed was justifiable. That’s not my heritage, and that’s not what represents almost 40% of the population of this state.
Racism has many different faces. It continues to embed itself in our society without apology and shame. It goes to work with us every single day. It drives around in police cars, it sits on benches in courtrooms and it teaches in ivy league classrooms. Being as old as time, racism sat at the table when the founding fathers drafted the constitution and bill of rights that this country holds so dear.
Racism has reared its ugly head in the fight to have this flag changed, and the anger displayed by those who think people who want to move this state forward are ‘whiners’ and need to leave if they do not like the way things are is sickening and telling. Just like black-on-black crime, white oppression is a fake concept created to place blame on a disenfranchised race of people who built this country for free. And what a shame that wanting unification and equity makes people feel insecure about the privilege they possess.
I do not say this often, but I am proud of our elected officials. Doing right by the citizens and listening to the overwhelming call for a new heritage. I am (as always) Mississippi proud and I cannot wait to see what we do next.
Madalyn McKnight is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A rare blackbird who has the range and a young black professional with impactful words! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @singsongblackbird and twitter @singsongblckbrd.