Zip It, Proud Families: Cheering Your Kids' Achievements While Black Is Mississippi's Newest Crime Against Humanity

[[{"fid":"83216","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_css_class[und]":"_none"},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default _none"}}]]

Photos from WREG, with hat tip to Jon Q.

Here in our fine post-racial land, Mississippi police ejected and later issued arrest warrants to four uppity family members of two families who cheered for their offspring at a Senatobia High School graduation ceremony after they were clearly asked to hold their joyful applause till the end by School Superintendent Jay Foster, a fervent believer in "order." Instead, one of the alleged perpetrators, since dubbed the Senatobia Four, jubilantly called out her niece's name, while another yelled "You did it baby!" to his daughter as she walked across the stage. They were later charged with "disturbing the peace" for thus celebrating a hard-won, once-in-a-lifetime victory for their kids, who have likely seen too few. Oh, and did we mention they were black?

The ceremony for Senatobia High was held at Northwest Mississippi Community College, in a state that boasts the nation's highest rate of poverty and one of its most dismal education systems, despite the high-falutin' if run-on claim by (white) Superintendent Foster on the district's website that, "Our goal is to set a standard for excellence in all academic areas (with a) focus on success for each student by creating opportunities where students are actively engaged in acquiring not only knowledge, but also skills necessary for lifelong learners." In Mississippi, only about half of black males graduate high school, with many waylaid by what federal authorities have charged is a school-to-prison pipeline that has long incarcerated black students for infractions as minor as dress code violations. But even those who against the odds manage to get to and finish college have been found to have the same chance of getting a job as their white counterparts who dropped out of high school. They do all this within a culture and economy where, for example, a state representative argued in public earlier this year against increasing education funding because, "All the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.” 

So we guess it shouldn't be surprising - though, alas, it is - to find the subsequent, oh-so-dispiriting, WTF/REALLY?!? flood of racist responses to a story about the "disbraceful" (sic) way these black families "carried on" by voicing their excited support for their kids at their high school graduation. Many tsk-tsked about "self-control,"  "respect for others," "following the rules," "a ceremony deserving of everyones' best behavior," "a time/place for everything," how "they won't listen and be polite" because it's "just how all are brought up" and "glad to see they didn't get away with it," and anyway "most of them probably never graduated because they can't follow directions" and "it's kinda like when the police tell you to stop and you run! Idiots." There were also several references to savages. Sigh.

Still, there were dissenters. Many rightly charged the whole thing is an insane, racist, wasteful debacle in a country where "we're always trying to find new ways to arrest black people," and that arresting family members for "just being black in public, or getting an education while black," is pretty par for the outrageous course. Among the best comments: "If they don’t stop these lawbreakers now, it will lead to a life of crime - it could escalate into full-on standing ovations" and, echoing the common right-wing complaint, "WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS?!”...Issues arrest warrant for supportive parents." The bewildered family members, meanwhile, are due in court June 9; each will have to post a $500 bond, which they say they don't have, or face jail time. "It's crazy," says Henry Walker, who dangerously yelled "You did it baby!" to his daughter. "The fact that I might have to bond out of jail (or pay) a $500 fine for expressing my love - it’s ridiculous." Ursula Miller, who called out her niece Lakaydra’s name, doesn't even dispute their right to eject her from the ceremony, but adds, "To say they going to put me in jail for it? What else are they allowed to do?” Excellent question. Next year, maybe rubber bullets?

[[{"fid":"83217","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_css_class[und]":"_none"},"type":"media","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default _none"}}]]

FRIENDS: Now More Than Ever

Independent journalism has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support us now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Common DreamsSupport Common Dreams

Share This Article