When Pigs Fly

While watching the documentary in class about the factories and industries all being built in rural southern neighborhoods, I realized that the South seems to always catch the short end of the stick. I found the industries reasoning for placing the factories in residential areas as selfish and inhume. Those poor people do not deserve to smell the horrid scent of feces coming from pigs and cattle. Not only is it unfair and insensitive, the residents are stuck there. They have been living in those areas for years, in some decades and they have to continue to live there because they can not afford to move. The cost to relocate is outrageous to these rural Southerners, especially when they most likely will not be able to see their current house. The factories bring health issues to the residents that live in the vicinity, mostly respiratory problems. The children  growing up there often have asthma.  Beyond the physical health issues, I could imagine the mental health issues are being affected as well. Living amongst the odor and filth of these factories causes stress and maybe even depression. The fact that this is your home and there is no where else to go is hard to process. All of this could be avoided, but the CEOs of these industries are not caring obviously because the factories are continuously being built. The residents of these communities have tried rallying against the factories to have them removed, but it is not successful. Their are not enough laws in place in reference to these industries just building up anywhere. The tax break that the companies are receiving for being in the South is the main reason the factories prey on this region. The government is not concerned because they know the residents of these communities are in the low end of the economy. These residents are mostly low working class people. But who is to judge if they deserve a clean environment to raise their children in? Definitely no human. It starts a cycle and the cycles are hard to break. The cycle of being stuck in low class in a low end neighborhood. The rural residents are victims of the cycle too. It causes a lack of motivation in people because they feel like they are invisible in their own community. As the residents of the community were speaking out on the issue of living near the factories, I was saddened and instantly thankful that I am not affected. But how selfish of me… As I later learned in class in the discussion of the documentary, my own community is being affected. Westwood is a community in Southwest Memphis, and I basically grew up there. I never realized the scent that everyone else was referring to, but Memphis is a victim of industries being too close to residential areas. This is called environmental racism, and although people are not aware, it is very common in the South. As time moves on, industries are going to continue to invade Southern communities, but it must be stopped. The long term effects of the residents is not worth the pretty penny the factories bring in. But who am I fooling, it is all about the pretty penny in the free country of  United States of America, even if the low class are slaves in their own communities because they have no money to move away from these huge factories.

Environmental Racism is Real!

Throughout the semester, I learned a lot about the South. In the beginning I felt I knew the basics, but then realized that what I thought I knew wasn’t even true. This class has been by far the most interesting of my entire college career, besides psychology. But, out of everything we discussed, environmental racism sticks with me the most for some reason. Maybe because I had never thought about it before, but people actually target the neighborhoods of minorities to dump waste in. We, people of color, are targeted when it comes to pollution, chemical waste dumps, and big agricultural businesses such as hog farms. Now, it’s not just people of color that are affected, poor white people are affected to. It’s not just about race either, it has a lot to do with where you live.

“Dumping in Dixie” explains how you may be predisposed because you are a person of color, you are poor, and/or you live in a rural place. Southern areas, like Southwest Memphis, are disproportionally affected. I was intrigued by this discovery because I live 10 minutes away from this area, but never really realized the harm that it’s doing. In Southwest Memphis there are factories that continue to pollute the air that I’m breathing! It’s crazy. But, it affects the Native Americans who live close by even worse. There are chemical and nuclear waste dumps affecting their air quality tremendously, which in turn is affecting their health tremendously.

I was really interested in this subject so I decided to do some research. I found this website called dosomething.org, which has a list of facts about environmental racism. I’ll only cover a few that I think is really important to know. For instance, “African Americans are 79% more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of causing the greatest health dangers.” Another fact is that “existing laws and land-use controls have not been adequately applied in order to reduce health risks for those living in or near toxic hot spots”. Like I mentioned earlier referring to the Native Americans in the Southwest Memphis area, it has been proven that “poverty-stricken Native American communities face some of the worst toxic pollution problems in the country.” Last but not least, the statement that really caught my attention was that “children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated.” All of this is because of the disproportionally distributed amount of environmental racism.

I’m glad I’m better educated on this subject because it affects so many people around the world. Many people don’t understand the value in a safe, clean environment. Because of toxic waste and big agricultural businesses that are right next door to us or right in our backyards, we can experience major health issues. For example, let’s pretend that a hog farm was built right next to my home. Those pigs poop, mate, and whatever else on that land. I have a garden in my backyard where I’ve been growing my vegetables for years. The pigs next door, more than likely, have compromised my health because the vegetables I grow and eat are possibly contaminated now. Ain’t no telling what’s in my tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s a shame, and that’s why we have to fight. We have to fight to save our communities, as well as fight to save our lives because these factories and farms aren’t doing anything but causing more problems for us. Think about it!


Being in this class was a real eye opener and good experience for me. I have learned so much by taking this class, and if you didn’t learn anything you just simply did not come to class at all. Because even if you attend sometimes you still should have retained alot of knowledge. When I first came into this class I thought I knew alot about the South and how things worked, but attending this class my teacher had us really looking and digging into things. The books that we read had all kinds of differnt information in it. Like the book A Way Down South the key points we learned in there was the History of the South, and pop culture. Some of the concepts that i gained was how the Old South was v/s the New South, Anti Northerners, Southern identify and how it can tell us about American idenity. Another book we read was Memphis and the Paradox of place, and some key points on that book was people of little substance going to a more globaly popular music of the 20th century, and how technological innovation went under educate work force, and also how that the identity of Memphis was not neither the Old South or the New South. Memphis is in between the both because of its location, and it is like this because Memphis is the place where people have to grind to get what they want in life, well that is  what others think. I have retained alot of knowledge from this class and it was a joy having you as a teacher. I would like to thank you for all that you have done in the semester and hope to see you around! Best wishes to all of my class mates and congrats to those that is graduating in December!


Kanye West, crazy or crazy genius?









  I am sure we have all had our share of Kanye West. From his temper tantrums about not winning “well deserved” awards to him stealing Taylor Swifts spotlight. I must remind you though of a Kayne West most of us once admired. The fresh new,coming from behind the scene making beats Kanye that was ready to change the world. Well, not he is not still changing the world, but this was in a better light. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” Kanye is whom I am referring too. “Jesus Walks” is the Kanye I am referring too. Okay, since I have now brought you up to par, I would like to discuss the clothing that bare the confederate flag, that he is currently selling at his shows. Many concert goers have been angered and totally lost by this concept of Kanye selling racist gear at his shows or anywhere else. I on the other hand thinks it is a wonderful marketing plan of ingenuity. You see Kanye’s album Yeezus has a few songs that push the envelope. The entire album is dedicated to racism but is a fashion sense. Does that take away from the very meaning of racism? No. With songs like Black Skinhead, Blood on the Leaves, and New Slaves it almost clarifies the reason behind the Confederate flag on the  clothing.

Kanye West was born in Atlanta, GA. to a to a former Black Panther father, who was also one of the first photojournalist for the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. As well as a mother who had he doctorate in English and a professor at Clark Atlanta University. With parents having those credentials, is the a wonder why Kanye is so out spoken and confident? West is not a stranger to racism by any means and with wisdom comes sorrow. With his up bringing, racism, raised and the south side of Chicago where black on black crime is prevalent, I can more understand his “coming out swinging” attitude. I once read that at age 08 his mom took a job in China teaching and Kanye mentioned how his classmates would ask to touch his skin because they never saw a black person. Back to the subject, Kanye received a lot of backlash for this particular album because of his relationship with Kim K. He was looked upon as fake because here you are rapping about “black struggles” but yet you impregnate Kim K. Instead of the people taking his music seriously, they rejected his lessons. The motivation behind the album was the insults he had received from a few fashion designers he had once looked up. They discredited his  new line of clothes in a racist kind of way. Kanye mentioned that black people were still enslaved due to the desire to have the most expensive hottest selling appeal even if it meant selling your soul for it. He feels that we are still picking cotton but this time not in it’s raw form but by the finished product, clothing. The album is well worth listening to especially the one called Blood on the Leaves with the Nina Simone’s 1965 rendition of Strange Fruit.http://yourlisten.com/iTTi/blood-on-the-leaves


This last semester in the south

Hello everyone I am back. Needless to say this is my last semester in the south. This is also my last semester as an undergrad as well. I will be leaving the south next year heading to North Carolina.  My daughter has to have surgery and her needs come first within my life and my time.  I have enjoyed this class. I learned plenty about the south that was not known before this class. Things from the article on Race and Ethnicity. Before discussing this article, I never knew it existed. After reading and browsing through this article, I learned how economic, cultural, and weather affects the Hispanic s and Asians tremendously based on the year and the metropolitan area to which they live. Also, as far as college is concerned, the enrollment rates are increasing but the completion rate is declining. Whites and Asians are more likely to finish versus blacks and Hispanics as well. We as a class focused this entire semester on southern identity. I also thought that the blacks threw themselves at the White masters in order to be pleasantly raped. Instead I found out that was just a common myth. That was the idea of the southern white identity. We also took apart another southern identity theme of movies and videos. We watched the Ms. Jackson video by Outcast; I now know that their southern identity was everything can be messed up, doors could be swinging,  holes could be in the ceilings,  and rain could be pouring down but we as blacks will still persevere. It was not until that day that I truly became knowing of the southern identity that is around me. I have always been a fan of The Housewives of Atlanta.  This particular day we watched a clip of it in class. At first I was just watching it, as always,  but when it was time to dissect this show clipping I was in awe. Those upper upper class black women & white woman still used and had the mind frame of slavery and definitely we not in tune to what they were doing nor what was going on. Since they reside in Atlanta,  that is the south and the south is considered a place where poverty is but within these housewives wealth has increased.  These women are famous and still have nannies and drivers just as in slavery. I also had the opportunity to see things i have never saw nor knew about.  Like the movie named Deliverance.  This movie was a horror film created in 1976. This movie brought about a different class status between rural and urban. The rural area meant it was the south and poor with poverty. The urban was the upper class. I always heard about inbreeding which is incest but I did not know it was true. Within this movie everyone shared a common culture religion,  music, and food as well as being in a small town. I appreciate this class because I learned more about me as well as others.

Education in the Mid-south

Back in August of 2011, the ruling was made by Federal court judge Hardy Mays for the Memphis City School district and the Shelby County School district to merge as one. After Shelby County officials fought to keep the County from having to pay for the City schools in the suffering economy that we are all facing now, the Judge ruled in favor of the consolidation. State law requires all school districts to be funded by the county, but a loophole that was created in the late 1800’s kept Memphis from the deal, although the city itself is ultimately under County control.

As the first semester after conjoining Memphis City Schools and Shelby County schools in the Mid-south comes to a closing point for winter break, a new challenge comes about as the schools once under the County School district fight for their own municipal school district. The suburban areas surrounding the city of Memphis including Millington, Bartlett, and Collierville are in high hopes of being granted by the Federal judges the “go ahead” to proceed with their plans of opening up their own school districts in the fall of the upcoming school year. The school board members for these new districts that are soon to come have already been sworn in as they begin search of a superintendent. All of the suburban areas are in agreement with the municipal school district idea except for Germantown residents who are still on the fence about the merger.

I think it is quite interesting that the suburban areas are trying to separate themselves from the conjoined system, but I did not for one second believe that it would not happen. I was not surprised. The idea that the County has the better off schools and the City contains some of the less desirable, although all are not bad, is one that has been around for awhile. As CNN covered the merger as it was first ruled upon stated that the Memphis City Schools students were 85% African American and 87% of those students are considered low-income, while the students attending the schools in the County were white and middle class. Everyone knows that classism plays a major role in the school systems. Poorer children who live in the less desirable areas of town, rather living off of government assistance or not, get the bare minimum of books and supplies for their education, while students who come from a more privileged background have more and have better.

With the school merger, parents and property owners are afraid of property values being lowered because they feel that Black children fester crime and violence and with the merger their areas will experience more of both. This could be true, but shouldn’t the Black child with the single mother who receives aid from the state receive the same quality education that the White child has who comes from a two parent college educated family? What do you think?

Check out these articles



Some Stuff is not Funny

First off every since I seen these pictures I never thought this was a laughing matter.  Some Stuff is not funny at all. Every since Halloween these pictures have been posted all over facebook, instagram, and the Internet. The pictures are supposed to be pictures of people pretending that they are Trayvon martin and George Zimmerman on Halloween. Last Time I checked this case and what happened to this little boy was not funny. It is not funny on Trayvon behalf or George. A person life was taken. This is sad that people thought it was funny and cool to even want to dress up as these people. It is really disgusting that they had the nerves to even take the picture and post the pictures that let you know they had no remorse. It is sad they actually went through it to post the pictures on the Internet. I am not sure what kind of feedback they were hoping they were going to get but i hope they did not think they were going to get a positive feedback. I really hope that did not think people was going to find these pictures funny and amusing. If they did think people was going to get a laugh off these pictures they are really sick in the mind. They had no remorse for people how they felt about this case. This is still a touchy situation topic for a lot of people and should not be made fun of. Did they even think about his mother and how this made her feel? What if this was her breaking point and your pictures was the cause of another death? I did not know that death was funny and making fun of people deaths was something you use as a joke. There is nothing funny about anyone dying no matter what the situation is. I thought as a society we have came too far to be still doing stuff like this. White people painting their face black was a way to mark blacks back when they were doing the  minstrel shows calling their selves blackface. Seeing stuff like this shows me that we have not grew as a society. White people used to paint their face black, draw on big red lips, and wear raggedly clothing and pretend that they were blacks and put on these called minstrel shows. The very things we fought for, died for, and tried to overcome it shows that we still are dealing with these things to this day. It is 2013 we should not still be seeing stuff in this manor.  It shows that people are very ignorant and have no morals. People are very inconsiderate and selfish not thinking about others at all.  If this was you brother, cousin, or one of your love ones would you want somebody to crack jokes about their death. It is all fun and games until people hurt you and talk about your love ones. I can not believe anyone is that insensitive.

I was reading through some articles and came across one talking about the American South is the most violent region in the country, according to a study of assault deaths in the United States. It went on talking about how the Southern states tend to have two to three more assault deaths per 100,000 people!  I must say that I was completely shocked because the South only accounted for 40.9% of all reported violent crimes even though it makes up roughly a quarter of the country, according to the final Uniform Crime Report for 2012.

This article became so mind blowing to me because it put a label on the southern states as a whole and I really don’t agree with that.  However, I do agree that some violence results from poverty in the southern states, hot weather leads to hot tempers, economic stress, etc. In my opinion there is a lot of truth behind those factors because Tennessee that had the nation’s highest violent crime rate last year.

The state was among the top 10 in the country for murders and robberies and was first for aggravated assaults, with an estimated 479.6 for every 100,000 residents. Tennessee’s 41,550 violent crimes in 2012 were up 6.8% from 2011 but down 10% from 2007, when there were 46,380 violent crimes. There were 388 murders in the state in 2012, up for a second straight year. I’m just saying can we please make the world a better place? Let’s start with Tennessee!

Memphis Art

A Nation Divided

Several groups have been under fire recently for finding themselves in a sticky situation regarding divisions of race. The story that inspired me to write this blog post was featured on NPR earlier this week. In it, interviewee Adrian Piper explains that she refuses to “allow her work to be exhibited in ‘all black shows’ because she believes that these shows ‘perpetuate the segregation of African American artists from mainstream contemporary art”.

In another article, Amanda Filipacchi, an op-ed writer for the New York Times, called out Wikipedia for removing female writers from the list of “American Novelists”. Female American novelists who found themselves placed in a subcategory (without an equivalent subcategory for male American novelists) cried foul.

According to these authors, it is segregation all over again. Why are gender and ethnicity the defining features in these cases, rather than, say, time period or subject matter?

On the other end of the spectrum, some sub-groupings based on gender or ethnicity are lauded and fiercely defended. For example, scholarships for girls who pursue STEM fields are extremely popular. So is the National Achievement Scholar program, which was created as the black counterpart of the National Merit Scholar program. It is worth noting that programs like these sometimes have lower or different standards than their traditional, mainstream counterparts.

Advocates for these special allowances, which are founded in racial and/or gendered preference, posit that preference is necessary to protect the recipients from the effects of institutional discrimination. Opponents say that special categorizations also have the power to stigmatize, objectify, and devalue their recipients (source).

When considering the issue theoretically, I believe that receiving (or being denied) privileges based on gender or ethnicity is unjust. However, I am much less likely to disagree when racial or gendered preference is shown in the form of scholarships reserved for black, latino, and female students. So, where is the line between correcting for disadvantage and acting unfairly?

What I have to wonder is whether creating a separate set of standards gives society permission to discriminate in a different way, via tokenism. By making special groups for minorities, are we creating a false appearance of inclusiveness to deflect accusations of sexism and racism?

Ideally, people would just be scientists or writers or artists, regardless of gender and race. An old adage says, give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Instead of giving hungry people a meal in the form of school scholarships, art exhibits, and other special categorizations, we should consider what it would look like to address the root of the problem: the origins of inequality in our society. It is harder and messier, but I think the result would be a more durable and meaningful solution to the problem. In the end, we will be able to get rid of things like Black History Month and special Latino art exhibits and scholarships for female scientists… because we will not need them. All these people would have a mainstream presence in their field.

I’m not sure we’re there yet.