Dear America,

I see your Confederate flags and swastikas. I hear your nasty insults aimed at minorities. I feel the pushback against what you call “political correctness”. And every bit of it is familiar to me.

I grew up and still live in a state where anyone with a differing opinion is told, by state representatives, to like it or leave. I live in Bible Country where Jesus is used as a weapon against LGBTQ, but somehow gambling and sex shops are justified in the name of tax revenue. I live in the land of segregation where there is still a court battle over desegregating schools, because Jim Crow is still being fought. Love thy neighbor has so many asterisks, it makes most companies’ terms of service look like light reading.

Trump America, you voted like the State of Mississippi, just with less Constitution and more conspiracy theories. So let me clue you in to what you can expect as a result.

Mississippi ranks last in education in the nation. Far right legislators “have not fully funded the state’s public schools since 2008 under a formula the Legislature passed in 1997.” Instead, they have continued to pass tax cuts for corporations, including phasing out the franchise tax. A highly touted reduction in personal income taxes will actually only save most residents $150 per year.

The state is next to last in bachelor’s degree attainment. Lawmakers have recently begun to fret over “brain drain” in the state, holding forums and meetings to discuss why they continually have to look out-of-state to fulfill skilled jobs. The main issues are two-fold. There are not many highly skilled jobs in the state; companies are not attracted to a state without a highly skilled workforce.

So what is the problem? Social Conservatives have legislated their religion and driven away the educated citizens. State representatives are notorious for publicly humiliating dissenters, encouraging citizens to gang up on them and shame them: “If you don’t like it, leave!” Companies are not attracted to a state where the governor’s biggest priority is fighting a lawsuit over baking wedding cakes and making discrimination against minorities legal.

Speaking of governors, Phil Bryant received the first ever Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award from the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins. He also received an award from The Heritage Foundation. Basically this means the governor allowed these two religious groups to infiltrate the state government so much, they invented prizes for him.

In addition to still flying the Confederate Flag, Mississippi officially celebrates Confederate Heritage Month each April. We also celebrate General Robert E. Lee Day on Martin Luther King Jr’s Day each year. When you think about America turning back the clock fifty years or more, my state never moved forward to begin with. We are stuck in that racially divided past.

Last week, the last public university pulled down the state flag from its campus. Now all the public colleges in the state have removed the state flag. So there are small changes occurring that show progress, that provide hope for our future.

For the sake of our country, it is my greatest wish that we are able to rectify this before our entire country turns into some version of my state. It is up to us to do everything we can to make sure that does not happen.


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