My beloved home state of magnolias is beautiful and ugly, blossoming but burdened. I want to see her wholeness represented in a quilt of humanity, connecting us, reflecting us, empowering us—not just some of us, but all of us.
Nov. 7, 2023, is an important day in the Magnolia State. We get to decide with our vote which candidates care the most about Mississippi’s wholeness, about improving the quality of life for everyone. We have the power to seat the candidates who are most fit, most capable and most committed to seeing, hearing and serving the whole state, not just pieces of it.
Vying for the highest seat is one candidate who vows to protect the interests of conservatives while fighting liberals and another who promises to serve and fight for all Mississippians.
Amid rural hospital closures, a severe health-care crisis, a welfare scandal, neglect of Mississippi’s most vulnerable residents, unbearable grocery prices, and a mounting chain of corruption, as a voter, I am listening carefully to what every candidate reveals about themselves, especially the two who are competing for our top spot of leadership. The issues are massive, severe, and, for some of us, blistering—and too large to categorize as merely “conservative” or “liberal.”
In this election, the reality that I was diagnosed with cancer this past spring has largely shaped my voter lens. I am blessed to be in remission. I celebrate this truth daily. Thank God for grace!
I wish my testimony could be entirely pretty, but reality painted a picture with shadows of darkness. Throughout each doctor’s appointment, hospital visit, lab test, surgery, radiation treatment and oncologist follow-up, I met other people, like me, learning to exist after a scary disease ravaged their lives.
One afternoon, while sitting in the lobby of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, waiting to see my oncologist, I met a woman who received her diagnosis the day before I learned of my own. Through dialogue, we recognized another thread connecting us. We are both caring for our parents. For me, this means back-and-forth travel from Flowood to my hometown of Brookhaven while I juggle a full-time teaching schedule and a part-time job. Our experiences as Mississippians battling real problems linked us. This kindred stranger and I consoled each other with words of love and support. If only words were enough to sustain us.
Unfortunately, cancer’s residue lingers, and it’s vicious. Trying to figure out how to navigate life, the bills, the job, financial adjustments and other factors that don’t stop just because of a cancer diagnosis is an ongoing struggle.
I am a Mississippian. My experiences are seeded in my humanity. Now more than ever, I need representation that will empower me with necessary resources for health and continued wellness. I’m no different from other Mississippians. In the words of Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts, mother of our native sister, Robin Roberts, “Everybody’s got something. Regardless of how much money you have, your race, where you live, what religion you follow, you are going through something. Or you already have or you will.”
It’s time out for simplistic leadership confining Mississippi to a box, one side labeled “conservative,” the other marked “liberal.”
Voters, please pay attention to the candidates whose representation fosters unification. We need leaders who think holistically, who will embrace and serve all Mississippians, and who will fight to improve the quality of life for every precious Magnolia in this state.
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Journalism and Education Group, the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.