Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Yep, Mississippi is ranked number one. The state desperately wanted to be number one at something. Yet, I doubt this is what they had in mind. We also rank way up the charts for infant mortality. The other day, I was reading the blog Kit Burns was Framed. He had that blonde Miss Teen USA contestant video posted. When I watched, all I could think was "Thank goodness she's not from Mississippi." You see we have this reputation to overcome. The reputation of being slow, backwards, prejudice, poorly educated, and stuck in the past.

While there are slow, backwards, prejudice, poorly educated, and stuck in the past people here, looking only at those people without seeing the rest of the population leaves a less than truthful picture of us. Yet, when media is in the area, those are the people who get in front of the camera or quoted. Then, we have the problem of movies reminding us of our past and teaching others who normally wouldn't have a clue. It took months after Mississippi Burning was released for me to be able to talk freely when living in Chicago. People accosted us in restaurants and theaters when they heard our accents just dying for us to confirm the movie. "Is it like that?" or "Do you know anyone in the Klan?", they asked. The idea that the movie was based on events in the 60s and focused on a limited population of people seemed evasive. We deserved some of the finger pointing since justice was not fully served in that case until recently, but I always looked around Chicago and felt the neighborhoods were more segregated than anything we produced here.

There were and are problems in Mississippi. I and most Mississippians will be the first to admit them. Yet, given a chance we will step up, take responsibility, and find ways to solve them. Add fat to that list.


Susan said...

That was excellent. I think because Mississippi is complex and diverse that is it more difficult for the media to really portray an accurate picture. (My real opinion is that they are too lazy and stereotypes and sound bites are easy) They make these stereotypes stick and they can all feel sophisticated and urbane. I lived in NYC and there is definitely segration by wealth. In Mississippi, well, you are related to almost everyone! Rich or poor! BUT we do need to work on childhood obesity in this state.

Susan said...

Well, I am contributing to the stereotype of ignorance by misspelling segregation! I think I will go eat something fried now.

Anonymous said...

infant mortality rates in the US as a whole are bad, especially for a country that is usually portrayed as wealthy. Maybe your media give Mississippi the bad rap to make it look like an isolated problem instead of one endemic to a country with wide income disparities and no public health care.

I think obesity is pretty bad all over the US, too. One of my cyber-knitting friends blogged about a recent trip to Toronto and the noticeable difference in portion size and quantity of vegetables in restaurants.

But I'm foreign. What do I know.

ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Ha! I forgot to comment to alpharat that my mother was Detroit Edison's "Miss Heat Pump" in 1957, and she's among the smartest women I know. (I'll go back and do that in a minute.)

Are these new statistics? I thought Texas was ranked fattest, at least at the time "Supersize Me" was playing in theaters -- oops, I mean in my living room a year after it came out on DVD.

Michigan is at least in the top ten. We've also got a fabulous crime problem, and an escalating methamphetamine problem, and in the northern areas, the men tend to wear their hats while dining in white tablecloth-type restaurants and the women go grocery shopping without combing their hair and putting on make-up!

Say "YES!" to Michigan!

Wisteria said...

Yes, it's official. Look at the article in that little tidbits section (should have linked it).

You're right Jove, but Mississippi apparently takes these problems to a new level and they predict it will get worse.

Miss Heat Pump!!! Did you do the pageant thing?

Susan--Chicken Spaghetti said...

Wisteria, you have another Susan commenter who also lived in New York. Whoa. I agree with her--Mississippi is more complex and diverse than one might think.

I'm sure that Mississippi's high poverty rate ties into both the obesity issue and the infant mortality rate. So sad, both statistics.

Wisteria said...

Susan T, the other Susan is my sister. She went to school and worked in New York a while.

Susan--Chicken Spaghetti said...

It's a small world, Wisteria. Our paths have probably crossed many times, don't you bet?