By McKaylan Gray
Growing up in Mississippi has been a curse and a blessing. Before I share my views on this controversial state, I’d like to address the fact that I’m not using the word “curse” in a completely negative way. I wouldn’t change where I am from, but there are many misconceptions and negative titles affiliated with our state.
For example, every human from Mississippi is not a morbidly obese racist living on a farm. Just like everyone from L.A. is not an anorexic celebrity.
In my opinion, Mississippi has many great qualities that are overlooked because of the negative stereotypes we all constantly feed. I believe the media is more Mississippi’s enemy than its friend, especially for those who have never visited our state.
One of the first sites that popped up when I Googled “About Mississippi,” was 20 facts someone should know before visiting. Just a few of the things on the list were: our slang talk, no shoes or clothes, and even something as ridiculous as the famous Mississippi slug burger. I probably wouldn’t visit Mississippi if I read that list either.
The media sheds bad light on Mississippi mostly for media attention. I am not saying Mississippi is perfect and amazing by any means; I just think it is nothing like most people assume.
I know many Mississippians would agree that the main stereotypes about our state have become jokes, not necessarily something we are ashamed of. How can we change how others view us if we don’t stick up for what we believe, and instead feed into the preconceived beliefs?
I am proud to say I have grown up in one of the most criticized states because I am an educated college student with morals and goals. In my opinion, that is how we can successfully break the negative stereotypes. At the end of the day, we all want the same things no matter where we are from.
I asked my friend what her thoughts on Mississippi were, and her response was very vague and unclear. She described to me an unimportant state with a few “cool places” and didn’t seem to know or care to learn about the state at all.
David Beebe, the global creative and content marketing international vice president once said, “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in, and become what they’re interested in.” This completely applies to the state of Mississippi because our state has created numerous insanely talented people. Not only is Mississippi noted for being the birthplace of the blues, but also, as the birthplace of the King of Rock and Roll.
Music has created powerful movements throughout time. Every song contains important messages and several Mississippi singer/songwriters have created powerful movements overtime.
My campaign to promote our state in a positive way, is the Mississippi Music App. This social media app will contain the most well known and undiscovered Mississippi artists. It will also give background on the artists in hope that everyone can see the struggles and realities people in our state have faced.
People can create their own profiles and post their favorites on a feed. This app will be promoted through ads on all of the most popular social medias, such as Instagram and Facebook.
The purpose is to show the ample amount of talent we have all around the country. This app will hopefully promote true artists who have a story to tell to people who want to listen.
Eventually, the Mississippi Music App will be required in college music courses to broaden our audience. Getting attention from younger generations is the key to success in our social media world right now.
My friend said she thinks the app could potentially be a huge hit, especially on college campuses. She said, “Everyone in school constantly talks about new, good music. This app would be helpful to share and follow each other, like on Instagram.”
The results and feedback from those I talked to seemed positive. All of my friends thought it was a good idea. In order for the app to go statewide, it would require promoting it at different college campuses.
This project has helped me realize many things. First, stereotypes are evil ideas that should be left in the past, but they continuously stick around. Second, we can all find flaws in the most perfect things if we look hard enough.
My personal experiences in Mississippi have been great, and I am mostly proud of where I come from. Yes, there are many things I would change, but as long as we continue to move in the right direction and change with our changing world, everything can be understood.
If we all work together to show off all of the positive things in our state instead of the violence and crime, everyone will be happy.
I have also learned that everyone has their own opinions. Most of them strictly are based on what they have been exposed to in our state, not what they actually know about it.
Mississippi is historical. Mississippi is beautiful. Mississippi is hospitable. Mississippi has some of the greenest, winding roads you’ve ever seen. Mississippi has the best football celebrations. Mississippi is constantly put down. Mississippi is a curse and a blessing.