Symbolic racism is still racism

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Feb. 16, at The University of Mississippi, two unidentified persons tied a noose to, and placed a Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle symbol, onto the James Meredith Integration statue.

My first reaction upon reading this was very similar to yours if this is your first time reading it. I was shocked, disgusted and embarrassed. It’s a hard place to be between loving your home state and being ashamed of it.
This is foolish behavior and shows a lack of moral character. It also plays right into all the accepted stereotypes of the South without giving all of the voices in the South a fair shot at saying: “no, this is not okay.”

James Meredith, who is still advocating for African- American rights and education, had to relive the terror he must have felt being the first African-American to have gone to the university. It was 1962 and Meredith had to be surrounded by hundreds of federal authorities whom President John F. Kennedy ordered to escort Meredith onto campus.

This is because integration was a fairly new idea and there was still a lot of hatred from Southern whites who were against integration. They rioted and boycotted Meredith’s admission to the school. In fact, two people were killed and several more were injured. Still, Meredith held his head up, went to school and finished too. Despite everything he had to endure, he persevered. He is a hero for African-American students of the ‘60s and an inspiration to students today.

It is now 2014 and we still have incredibly racist ideology floating around the South that seems to settle here. This is especially true of the Mississippi Delta. And if you were ever unsure of why—this is your answer. It baffles me that I have to read something like this in the paper or see it on the news. At the same time though, I wouldn’t have expected it to be anywhere except for Ole Miss.

There seems to be this sort of tension in Oxford that doesn’t get any better with streets like Confederate Road keeping the Old South imagery alive and a mascot who (either retired ‘Southern Plantation Owner’ or newly selected ‘Black Bear’) perpetuates an ideology of racism. Even the name “Ole Miss” is racist as it was a common nickname for a slave owner’s wife.

This isn’t the university’s first incident, either. In 2013, during a play about the murder of a homosexual Wyoming student, homophobic slurs were screamed at the actors from students in the audience. These boys are ‘good ole boys’ at ‘Ole Miss’ and they’re ‘rebels.’

As always, university officials claim they are appalled and do not condone the actions of the vandals.

Campus police said that two men were seen near the statue and a construction worker recalls that the men were screaming racial slurs.

The campus police are looking at the campus video surveillance for any clues and a $25,000 reward is in place for any information that leads to an arrest.