Religion in the Schools

Take a stroll through the streets of the city of Memphis. See any commonalities? One thing is for certain in Memphis you can always find a Family Dollar, a liquor store, and a church within miles of one another. If it is one thing about Memphis city residents, we love a bargain, booze, and to have church services on our specific Holy days. With different Christian churches on every corner ranging in every denomination known to man, along with holy places of other religions, you can assume that city residents are very much familiar with God and/or other higher beings that they may serve.

Religion plays a big part of the culture in the south, with an average of 63% of Memphians being able to identify with a religion according to Parents begin taking their children to church at early ages to expose them to religion. In one particular case in Memphis, a young lady attending a Shelby County school in Memphis was asked to do a homework assignment based on her hero. The young lady asked her teacher if her hero could be God, and the teacher told her no. The little girl of the innocent age of ten proceeded to write two papers on her hero, one being of Michael Jackson, the other being of God. Once the teacher refused to take the essay written on God, the child’s parents got involved, along with an attorney, and she was ultimately allowed to submit her paper with no amendments being broken.

With America being founded on Christian beliefs, one would think that a lot of things and practices we do would be centered around that belief system. Slowly but surely the America is becoming more “worldly” and is not necessarily abandoning their Christian beliefs, but altering the way that it does things to keep from offending nonbelievers. In one aspect, think about the school systems. While attending public school I was never involved in classroom prayer because it was long gone before my time, but I can ask my parents about a time when it was allowed in their schools. Then you can think back to when you were in school. At what grade did you stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with your class at the start of your morning? Many schools through the years have opted out of saying the pledge only because of the line “one nation, under God” can be seen as offensive to some. As America becomes more diverse day by day, the question linger, should schools be stripped of all religiosity or not.

Check out the link to the WMCTV article —

Only in the South

Have you ever seen the yard statue of the little black lawn jockey? You know the one with the red hat and red vest? Oh, I mustn’t forget to point out the red lips which guarantees to assure you of his “blackness”. The lawn jockey would probably have on his face and hand, the blackest paint in history to help stand out against his “Lilly white” shirt and pants. Well as a child I would only see these type lawn statues while visiting family in the south. I had never seen those little guys in the Chicago where we lived at the time. Though I never asked my parents what the black lawn jockeys stood for, I had made up in my young mind that they represented some form of racism, slavery perhaps. To be honest, this is the first time I have questioned the little men in my adulthood. The black lawn jockeys are a rarity  in this day. You may find him in an antique shop or all white and not painted at all. When I began my search for information, I started by typing “black lawn jockey” on the Google website. Low and behold all the information that popped up. Legend has it that a little black boy by the name of Jocko Graves, was General George Washington stable boy who wanted to help out in the war. Being too young though, Washington and his men needed to go across the Delaware River so he agreed to let lil Jocko hold the horses and lantern. Well, Washington and his men took a tad bit longer than expected. When they returned, loyal Jocko was frozen stiff still holding the lantern and the horses. General Washington was so hurt that when he made it home, he immediately had a statue built in the remembrance of Jocko and he even had some sculpted for his friends. I even read a story where Jocko the lawn jockey was used during the underground railroad to let the slaves know if it were safe for them to stop by or not according to the direction he was turned or if a ribbon was wrapped around his arm. If these stories are true then Jocko Graves needs his place in history instead of a place in the yard where unsuspecting people could assume the worst. With that being said, if the statue was so noble, why paint Jocko in such a derogatory light? Maybe we can hold a candle light vigil at Nathan Bedford Forrest Park and place little Jockos around the park? Only in the South would we celebrate a young boys misfortune and death with an awkward looking lawn statue but build an even better story of how he came about. Well, maybe its not only in the South, but this is what I have witnessed. Legend or b.s,the world may never know. Good try though.

The South Still a Filthy Place

As we can see on that picture that I attached, the southern states have the highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). It caught my eye when I first moved to the South from the North Europe  in 2009. I saw the signs in clinics showing very high percentage of STDs compared to the northern states. At first, I was not very sure why the South is dealing with such problems. Since we got in more deeper discussions about the South in our Sociology of the South class, I learned many aspects that made me realize why the South has such bad reputations. First, I never knew about the yellow fever epidemics and the sickle cell anemia until now. Memphis, and also many other southern states dealt with horrible spares of yellow fever. It killed tremendous amount of people. Furthermore, Memphis was actually very attractive place for the immigrants, for example, from Germany, or Ireland, who after the yellow fever hit the city, fled away to other cities. I believe Memphis could have been a great city if all of  those immigrants would have stayed here. It would have made the city more multicultural; moreover, foreigners would have brought in more money and the high percentages of STDs that the city faces today could have been prevented. The city could have been similar to Atlanta. Unfortunately, it went different way and Memphis had to deal with many negative problems that affect the city until today.

The sickle cell anemia and yellow fever are not the big issues no more, now Memphis and the South deals with the STDs. The numbers are very high among minority groups. The African-Americans have almost 50% higher chlamydia rate than whites do. I believe the main reasons are poor access to the healthcare, and poor educational lessons provided to young people at school or at home. Since the South is more religious, I believe many schools and parents do not talk about sexual life very often. I remember back in Estonia, we had a class where we learned about diseases, prevention of pregnancy, and how to avoid certain issues. The South is more religious; nevertheless, people have to be more educated about the sexual diseases in order to  prevent long-term effects. Also, the people in the South has lower incomes. People do not have the access to health care and will not be able to get cured properly. Another issue is still the high percentage of rural people, and also illegal immigrants who do not believe or are not able to go to regular check-ups.

To sum up, I believe it is sad that Memphis and the South are still looked at as filthy and dirty. The South should fight very hard against those issues to prevent negative images that other states and countries give them. If the outsiders do not see that the South at least gives an good effort to fight against it, a lot of people from other states and countries will not come here and things will never get better then. There are many positive aspects about the South that should be more known to the whole world other than STDs and other diseases that make the South look bad.

Beale street is still relevant!

When you think of Memphis what do you think? The Fedex forum, the Memphis Tigers, the Memphis Grizzlies, and Beale st. Beale st. is home of the Memphis blues. Beale st. is the most famous street in the city of Memphis.  Beale st. was a good place for Blues musicians to come and perform. Many African American musicians looked at the street as a great place to prosper and showcase their musical talents.  Beale st. was the Harlem of the South in the early 20th century. Beale st. was great for mainstream Black America and helped establish Memphis as a great musical city throughout the world.

As a twenty-one year old citizen of Memphis, I never knew that Beale st. is such an important landmark. I always looked at the street as a place to go have drinks, listen to Blues music, club and eat good Southern food. I had a lack of  knowledge about the importance of the street because it does not have a great significance to the city as it once did.During the week days Beale st. is like an abandoned town, but many citizens use the street for a place to go to get out the house on the weekends. It is still a tradition for drinking and social intoxication. The street still consist of many bars and clubs.The clubs on the street may have few live bands or musicians to visit. Many host local, voluntary bands to perform. The street’s most popular club is Club 152. Club 152 is the street’s main attraction now. The club is consisted of three floors and have different activities going on for each floor. The street is basically an outdoor club for me and my peers during the late hours of the night, on the weekends. Many people walk around and socialize. Jello shots and huge glasses of beer are almost in everyone’s hand.

During specific times of the year, Beale st. draws large attraction for Memphis citizens and outside visitors. Beale st. is popular for the Beale st. musical festival. The event is part of Memphis in May which is a showcase of musical talent locally and nationally. The musical festival was once popular for African Americans throughout the South. I love going to hear the different musicians perform. Tom Lee Park is filled with  many sounds and electrifying music. The music festival keeps the music element of the street intact with what made the street famous. Beale st. holds another cultural event which is the annual Africa in April. Africa in April is held for a week during the middle of the month. Africa in April helps attract many visitors to the street. During that entire week, Beale st. generates more money  because of the large amount of visitors. During the basketball season, Beale st. also attracts many visitors because of the success of both the University of Memphis Tigers men basketball team and the Memphis Grizzlies. The street sits next to the Fedex Forum and is a good place to go after a win  or to sit to watch the games.


It’s a shame


Let me be clear, I am not insensitive to the government shutdown. I am saddened that the country I live in will barter with people’s livelihood and I’m also upset by the public display of ignorance shown by both sides. This is a blatant case of elitism, classism, entitlement all mixed in one. Then, here comes the social media with their ignorant rants about the shutdown. When you can name all three branches of government and tell me how many senators represents each state then I may take half of what you are saying seriously. The president is just a figurehead that represents America. The law does not stop or end with him.  There are levels to this, literally, and there are three to be exact. Another thing, these corporations that are whining, moaning, and groaning about having to fund the Affordable Care Act can afford it! Did you all not realize that you were paying more in taxes starting January 1, 2013 to pay your piece of the pie for the Affordable Care Act? I will not disrespect my president by calling itObamaCare, although I was told he now sometimes refersto it as that himself. Personally I care more about who it will help than who passed the law. I mean, the one who gets it passed will be remembered and their good deed does not go unnoted, however, is that really the important factor. These are the exact same companies that are increasing the prices they charge the consumer to offset the so called unreasonable expense of Affordable Care Act. Understand, wlive in a heavily capitalistic society. Folks care more about lining their deep pockets than the welfare of mankind. It is capitalism running amuck; I promise you not a single one of these major corporations will miss any money as a result. My opinion,  is that it is the principle that  they do not want a black man, well not only that,  lets bring it up to the present time hate; which  is not about race but about the  class one can afford to be in and no  democratic will tell them what to do with their money.  President Obama is not the first to attempt to pass healthcare reform; he is merely the only one that seems close to being successful. The question of the day is how long the shutdown will last? Now let’s recap on history; the last time a shutdown happened, was eighteen years ago during the Clinton administration, the Stalemate shutdown lasted twenty- one days. That was almost a month; so this means they are willing to let their employee go without pay instead of making an investment in other people because at the end of the day they will still benefit from the change. If they give a little money out of theirpockets to make sure others are healthy enough to come in and serve them every day.  If everyone did his or her part the world would be a better place.

Does Memphis Value Healthcare?

In class, we have been talking about the people of  little substance. With these discussions, we have learned that when sickle cell anemia was a problem in our city, the people of substance decided to care for these sick people because of the grant money they would receive for constructing hospitals. Of  course that seems harsh, but Professor Robinson has helped me realize two things. The world does not care about “people of little substance” and its all about money all the time! With that being said, I started to wonder. Does Memphis still care about the healthcare treatment for those people of little substance and if so, do they have any ulterior motives?

After thinking about this question long and hard, I came to the conclusion that the answer to this question is no. Unlike countries that pride themselves on keeping their citizens healthy so that their economy can prosper, the United States treats health care as a business. The south especially does not make sure that the “people of little substance” are accurately cared for. My aunt lives in Iowa and the way the north handles healthcare is vastly different than they way the south does. In Iowa, anyone who can not afford their medical bills will be taken care of despite their inability to pay. It kind of reminds you of the way Lebhonor works in Memphis. In Memphis however this is not the case. The south is too busy making money from the sickly that they fail to realize the economic benefits of a healthy working class.

When it all boils down to it, the “people of substance” only cater to the people of “little substance” when it benefits them financially. Its sad to say, but things have not changed much since the sickle cell anemia boom in Memphis. So, after coming to this realization, another question came to my mind. How different would Memphis be if the “people of  little substance” had their healthcare needs attended to? I believe that Memphis would prosper greatly. The first benefit of making healthcare available  for everyone is lower hospital costs.  As of now, when a person receives a hospital bill, they often notice that simple things like a box of tissue cost hundreds of dollars. The reason for such high hospital bills is because they are paying the bills for the people that cannot afford to pay it themselves. If Memphis devised a healthcare system that assured everyone who could not afford medical treatment were taken care of, then everyone else would have lower healthcare cost. Some may wonder how this will benefit Memphis. Well, if the cost of medical care was lowered, then people would have more money in their pockets. This money could in turn be redistributed back into the Memphis economy and this would assist Memphis in their effort to prosper financially.

Memphis is still a place where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is a fact that will likely not change; therefore, I have come to the conclusion that Obama Care needs to become every “person of little substance”  because Memphis does not care how you get your medical bills paid for!


I’ve always wondered why Memphis was considered to be the “dirty south”! However, to my surprise I realized that the “the dirty south” also includes South and North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee overall; not just Memphis.  The term “dirty south” is a term of endearment for the area of the United States that includes much of the former Confederacy.  Some people feel that “dirty south” is rap music that originated from the south.  It was said that music from the “dirty south” usually has a faster beat something you can dance to.  In 1990’s there was the “dirty south” rap that popped up and consisted of violent, sex-obsessed and naturally cuss oriented brand of modern hip-hop. The name dirty south is so popular that it inspired Dragan Roganovic to take it as his stage name. What does the “dirty south” mean to you?

Dehumanizing the Negro

Dehumanization is the act of removing humanness from individuals by denying them things such as individuality, compassion, and civility. Part of the process involves instilling a sense of otherness and animalistic tendencies. For example, starving your subjects to the point where they gorge on sustenance once they receive it. Doing so in a public display allows you to point out their barbaric ways and let others bear witness.  A pivotal scene in the modern film Django Unchained allows us a glimpse into the minds of those that tried to justify the enslavement of fellow human beings. Leonardo DiCaprio used a ball pein hammer to crack a skull and point out the ridges in it that indicated African Americans were predisposed to submission. Phrenology and other pseudosciences gave way to an era of scientific racism and a general effort to prove through hard facts that not only were blacks inferior, but those of European ancestry were superior to every race. It was believed that other races did not feel pain as Europeans did and it was used to justify the harsh treatments of natives during British imperialism.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment is one of the most well documented cases of such efforts. Scientists recruited the already infected  and newly infected some African American men. They were told they were receiving free health care and being treated for bad blood (another name for anemia at the time). The scientists even made efforts to prevent them from receiving treatment from other health facilities so that they could study the full effects o the disease. Although the men were not notified of their infected status, doctors used the information gained from the study to say that African Americans were so hyper-sexual, that they readily slept with diseased individuals. They allowed the men to freely pass on the disease to their wives and in turn their children. Each fact poised by scientists helped to further justify the mistreatment of African Americans and ignore their needs for a society in which they are not only equal, but human.

In the book “Dying in the City of Blues,” sickle cell anemia is ignored and passed off as a black disease or a consequence of living on the river. It is often referred to as “the shakes,” “the ager,” or “the fever.”  People were pushed into tight communities in order to contain it’s spread. It’s not until the disease can be profited from and the looming threat of integration, that it receives the attention it deserves. For a long time, African Americans had become accustomed to suffering in silence and had a learned distrust of the U.S. healthcare system. Sickle Cell Anemia becomes synonymous with the ignoring of the plight and struggles of Black Americans.  Pain and diseases were allowed to ravage the black community because they weren’t worth the effort to treat. They were a dirty thing that would continue to spread diseases amongst one another. The dehumanization of Black Americans has served an important role in the rationalization of their treatment and mistreatment.

Believing We’re All Middle Class

When you think about class structures in America, you tend to only think of one, the middle class. I think about all the times I have heard someone describe themselves, it’s always middle class. I honestly cannot remember a single time when someone has categorized themselves as something else. Even teachers often make the mistake of saying “Well all of you are sitting in a college classroom so it’s safe to assume you are all at least middle class.” However, this is simply not the case. I personally know several people that their families fall under the working poor class and are still able to go to college. Thanks to scholarships, they are able to attend college and sometimes receive some refund to live off of. If not, they find a job and live off of the job.

Why are we stuck as a society believing we are all middle class? One reason is because nobody wants to say or admit they are poor. Being poor has a bad connotation to it, it means you’re either homeless, or just about there. If you can eat a couple meals per day, sleep in a bed at night, or have a car, you can’t be poor. Since the south has the majority of the poorest states, which leads to majority of the poor people, America couldn’t allow the southern people to feel left out, so they created a symbol. It’s called country. If you have pots and pans to catch the rain from the roof, you’re country. If you have to plant a garden instead of buying your groceries, you’re country. Therefore, since you are making it, you are middle class, not poor.   Just think of all those homeless people out there. Those are the people we save the term poor for. On the flip side, calling yourself rich is an absolute no-no. There’s always someone out there that can put you to shame so they’re the “rich” ones, not you. That only leaves us with middle class. Believing we are middle class puts our mind at ease. We are able to feel good about ourselves because we are “making it” in the world, but we don’t feel good enough to feel guilty at all the things we can afford.

Politicians, especially, milk this for all its worth. If you had a nickel for every time the term “middle class” was used in campaigning last election, you would be set for life. They do this because it’s the one term that speaks to everyone. If wealth inequality continues to separate as it has in the recent past, America will soon have no middle class. There will be only a rich class and a poor class. Currently the top 20% hold 85% of the nation’s wealth. That just leaves the remaining 80% of people with 15% of the wealth. Granted some American’s are in fact middle class, however the majority of American are not. According to two different polls, the Gallop and Pew, over 50% of American’s would classify themselves as middle class. Until we develop class consciousness, especially southerners, nothing is going to change. We must see through the lie that we have been fooled into believing and change the system. Don’t allow people to tell you it’s acceptable to live below standards just because you “live in the country”. Realistically evaluate yourself and those living around you and get up and do something about it.

A Basketball Addicted City in the South

Do not get me wrong I am not saying that Memphis is the only area in the southeast that loves basketball. I am saying that when the weather starts declining in temperature that most of this SEC ridden area begins to drool over the idea of gathering around a TV and watching the sport of football. In Memphis jackets and pants weather can only mean one thing, that the Tigers and Grizzlies are about to do what they do best and get cheered on by the blood curdling yells of some of the best fans in the country. Again, just to clear my name I love football, I really do, but growing up a Memphis Tigers fan has made me numb to the negative effects of your school not having a stellar football season. When it comes to my cities’ basketball teams my expectations go from ground level to bursting through the ceiling. I expect nothing but greatness as each season approaches. Most of the conversations between my friends and myself consist of how far we believe the Tigers and Grizzlies with go in the ensuing season.

When that first loss comes whether it be from the defending national champs or some team we fluffed the schedule with they both hurt, bad. We all have that sick feeling in our stomachs that sticks with us until the next game and win. When that first big win comes there is enough electricity running through your body to heat your house for the winter, and all you can think or talk about for the next few days are the plays and players that impressed you the most.

The thing that also happens in Memphis during basketball season that makes the sport seem that much more magical is that the city seems to unite during the limited gap in time that is basketball season. No matter what social class you come from during that winning season you never seem to have trouble talking and cheering with anyone around you. The mood seems lighter wherever you go. If the good Lord allows it and the Tigers make an impressive run in March or the Grizzlies slug their way through the western conference tournament the whole city is seemingly watching the same thing.  No matter the outcome we always keep our sense of pride about our basketball teams, almost as to say “yeah, you beat us but we are still better than you.”

All around us there are people cheering for their schools on the gridiron while we sit patiently waiting the moment where we get to pack ourselves into the FedEx Forum and scream like Romans spectating gladiators.  It is that brutality that brings us together and makes one of the best basketball fan base around. While I wish the city could have the comrodery we seem to have during basketball season all the time, I can deal with five months a year for now. With March Madness less than twenty-four hours away, I know i am not the only one who is screaming in their seats in excitement.