Consider this an invitation. I’d love you to attend our next solutions circle on Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. CST, where we will again listen to your ideas about the causes and solutions of community violence in our fourth dialogue on this urgent topic. A quick primer: The Mississippi Free Press, in collaboration with the state’s oldest Black newspaper, the Jackson Advocate, first started these virtual gatherings in 2020 to talk with Black women about what COVID-19 revealed about community inequities and possible solutions. That year, we held our first circle about voting access with all invited.
The series of COVID conversations helped spur rich and deep storytelling as we listened to Black women from around our state discuss disparities they’d battled for decades. COVID exacerbated and revealed systemic problems affecting Black women even when there’s no international health crisis. A lot is ailing the Black community, and Black women spend excessive time putting Band-Aids on the communities’ injuries. Any disaster reveals hidden pain and community fractures. Katrina, anyone?
The long haul of this pandemic is beyond what one can and should endure in a so-called first-world country that espouses Christian values.
Sharing Perspectives, Enacting Change
During these violence-prevention circles—which are virtual for now, though we hope we can have face-to-face conversations soon—we sit down with Mississippians from all walks of life and all corners of the state who then become part of a larger network seeking solutions together. They talk about their problems and what would change them. The only requirement for joining is that you are a Mississippian who cares deeply about the state. Previous conversations included retired law enforcement, students in a community program who joined us from their community center, and a grandparent tasked with raising her granddaughter and overseeing the virtual school year.
As I said, we want to see Mississippians from all walks of life.
I live in central Mississippi, and many of you will know that a lot of folks are focused on Jackson and the uptick in crime. It’s easy to beat up Jackson. Heck, it’s easy to beat up any capital city with a majority-minority population with calls to find that one city leader who will save us. I’ve watched that fruitless stunt for decades. The truth is no one person can change decades of systemic issues and neglect; plus, Jackson isn’t the only Mississippi city struggling with crime, which is directly connected to poverty and other disparities, as Aliyah Veal’s ongoing series on what COVID-19 revealed about Jackson violence proves.
Statistics show increased domestic violence as lockdowns and quarantines heightened already tense living situations where many people struggle to keep a job and a rental home to stay in. Violence is a real problem in every corner of our state and nation (like on Jan. 6, 2021)—sometimes it’s hidden, and sometimes it’s front and center. Only time will tell all that happened during these years.
We need to hear what you have to say. We need your ideas about moving the needle on issues affecting us all. So, please accept my invitation to talk about what’s ailing us and how we can fix it. I hope to see you at the next circle. Email me at [email protected] if you have questions.
To read more Mississippi Free Press content on solutions journalism focused on crime and other relevant issues, browse MFP’s Hinds County section of the larger Black Women, System Barriers and COVID-19 Project or visit solutions.jacksonfreepress.com.
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and a list of sources fact-checking the included information to [email protected]. We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.