By Brittney N. Jackson
Born and raised in Mississippi, I have heard everything that could possibly be said about the state I call home. In the age of social media, those who live outside the state easily Tweet, blog and write about a state they believe is stuck in the past with no hope of ever being able to catch up.
“People in Mississippi still live in slavery.” “Mississippi is just grass, horses and cattle.” “People in Mississippi walk around with no shoes on and never attend school because they’re always farming.”
All of these stereotypes are untrue, highly inaccurate, and often come from those who have never stepped foot across the state lines of a place with a rich culture and many things to offer.
Mississippi has a lot to work on, but we are not the KKK-filled, obese state that everyone automatically assumes we are. Mississippi’s perception has been tarnished by the actions of a few who continue to make the state as a whole look horrible.
Media and news outlets are also to blame as they continue to portray Mississippi in a negative light. The positive to negative ratio of national news stories covering the state of Mississippi are virtually one to every 10.
Skewed ratings done by unreliable sources and statistics that lack in-depth research cover the media and dim the state’s light instead of illuminating it.
I believe there should be more qualitative research than quantitative research. This would allow those outside the state to better understand the state they are so quick to judge.
Also, stereotypes will never be broken without open minds and understanding there is room for improvement. As previously stated, Mississippi has a lot to work on, but that work will be in vain if the rest of the country fails to understand the progression made in attempt to better the state.
In preparation for my campaign, I asked those around me for their opinion about Mississippi, what they would like to see change, and what they actually like and have no problem with. For most, Mississippi was the underdog of the U.S. with a lot to offer, but it was also a state marked with wrongdoings of the past. Many also believed the state was still marked because of the failure to correct what was done so long ago.
Most would like to see education in all of Mississippi’s public schools change, with qualified people placed in failing schools to turn them around.
Many would also like to see the optimal use of the major cities in the state: Biloxi, Jackson, Oxford, and Southaven. They would like to see more shopping centers, activities and professional teams in these cities.
Most also liked the feeling of home the state gave. The emphasis of family and home was really high for those when asked about the great things the state offers.
With all of the information gathered, the campaign Mississippi Mine and Yours was created. The “mine and yours” of the title gives ownership of the state to its residents and the rest of the country.
Its purpose is to come up with new ways to improve the state, spread news about new things that are coming, and bring positive media to the state.
The campaign will start at the root of change in the state – college campuses. Starting the campaign on college campuses leaves room for in- and out-of-state opinion, allows for easy social media outreach, and constant continuation of the subject with college interns who are majoring in public relations and communications.
Commercials will also be run across the nation during primetime television, and campaigns will be brought to the major cites of Mississippi as well.
I hope individuals will realize this is needed for the state to move out of the 50th spot. We also hope they understand that, while this is their state, it is ours as well.
Being last because of outdated traditions should no longer be accepted. We have to raise the standard of Mississippi living to compete with that of Georgia, Florida, and even New York.
It is time for us to show off our talents and what we have to offer. Mississippi is the birthplace for many things good and bad. And that needs to be realized and capitalized on. My Mississippi is your Mississippi, and that should be something we can all believe in.