Mostly black Mississippians helpless as water crisis deepens in Jackson

The Washington Post has a sad article up about the water crisis in Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson, and I was shocked when I ran across this:

Experts say this crisis was years in the making, a result of inadequate funding for essential infrastructure upgrades. For the past year, leaders of this majority-Black, Democrat-led city have pushed for additional funding from the White Republicans who run the state. Little has come of those appeals.

I’m not shocked because it’s not true. I’m shocked because editors at papers such as WaPo usually won’t let that kind of indictment of white neglect toward black citizens be spoken so clearly.

It’s also clear that whites (who make up 58 percent of the state) are in complete control and have ignored the problems of black Mississippians (who make up 38 percent of the state). Mississippi has a long history of active and passive racism stretching back to the days of slavery, right through to the present. Earlier this year, KKK pamphlets were left over the span of two months on black residents’ property and on the steps of a black church in Hernando in rural DeSoto County.

This is a state where white supremacism runs deep.

So it ought not be too surprising that white Republican state leaders would sit back while the Jackson water crisis has been slowly ruining the lives of black Jackson residents.

Benny Ivey, a white plumber and co-director of the group Strong Arms of Jackson, said the city’s water crisis is finally getting the national exposure it deserves.

“We have people really seeing what’s going on,” Ivey said. “I’m glad that the governor and other people are finally saying something about this and saying they’re going to do something about it. But … we’ll see if they put money where their mouth is.”

As a plumber, Ivey knows the city’s crumbling water infrastructure well.

“There’s always water lines breaking and sewer lines breaking,” he said. “I’ve had situations where I have my guys replace a sewer line from the house to the road and you get to the road and find out the city’s line is messed up and the city makes the homeowner bust the road up, fix the line in the road and then asphalt the road. What kind of place does that?”

Ivey grew up in South Jackson but moved to a suburb in nearby Rankin County.

“No gunshots, good water, good sewer,” Ivey said of Florence, Miss., the city where he lives. “It’s like night and day.”

Crazy. Just crazy.

And it’s only going to get worse as the Republican-led U.S. Supreme Court stands ready to strike down even more parts of the Voting Rights Act that have blocked southern whites from building barriers to black voting in the Deep South.

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