Point of View Columns

Mississippi Goddamn and the Tarnished Legend of Bret Favre

There is no rational way to begin to write about this story so we can begin with the title. “Mississippi Goddamn” is a song written and performed by Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1964. And if you don’t know who Nina Simone was take a few nanoseconds on Google to find out. You will be glad that you did.

Mississippi has always been a level of Hell for Black people in America. In the 18th and 19th century enslavers would threaten their enslaved men, women and children with the prospect of being sold to a Mississippi enslaver if they were not sufficiently obedient, subservient and servile.

The enslavers in Mississippi took the infernal system of slavery to new depths, literally working enslaved men and women to death – saving the children for a later depth. And that tradition survived the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Going into the 20th century during the so-called Great Migration of Black Americans from the South (Refugees From Terror would be more historically correct), many natives of Mississippi went somewhere and anywhere, as long as it wasn’t Mississippi.

But many Black people did not leave Mississippi and in the face of lynching, discrimination, wholesale demolition of communities and daily indignities – they stayed. They stayed and built communities. They stayed and fought and died for their freedom. Indeed, Medgar Evers was murdered in front of his wife and children for having the temerity to encourage Black people to vote and Emmett Till was mutilated and lynched for having the nerve to (possibly) say anything to a white woman, no matter how innocuous.

Yet they stayed. They fought for the right to vote and the very real risk of their lives. They stayed and elected Black people to the State legislature, to Congress and to the office of Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. And if someone could have told the mother of Emmett Till in 1955, or the widow of Medgar Evers in 1962, that in 2022 the Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi would be a Black man named Chokwe Lumumba they would have smiled through their tears in disbelief.

But despite the fitful and hard won steps for progress in Mississippi, it is still a bus stop to Hell for too many Black people. Black people have the highest rates of infant mortality and the lowest rates of life expectancy in America. By every indicia of quality of life, the Black people in Mississippi are living the life of a very poor person in a so-called Third World country.

Which brings us to the story of Bret Favre, who should have his photograph on a “Wanted” poster all over Mississippi. Bret Favre is a native son of Mississippi, a football star at Southern Mississippi University and a superstar in the National Football League, earning of $140 million in NFL payments alone, along with uncounted millions from endorsements, etc.

Somehow Favre and his confederates, no pun intended, thought that it was a good idea to siphon Mississippi state welfare funds intended to assist the poorest of the poor in that state (who are among the poorest in all of North America), to be used for private initiatives like a volleyball court/stadium at Southern Mississippi University where Favre’s daughter played volleyball.

That Favre and his confederates (still no pun intended) thought that of all the funds that could be siphoned, welfare funds for the poor people of Mississippi (many of whom are Black) would be the best target is a textbook illustration of racism, class privilege and greed in its vilest iteration.

The fact that this cabal may have siphoned off more than $77 million it is pretty clear that more than a volley ball court has been built.

But it has to make one wonder how, in the third decade of the 21st century that robbing the poor to enrich the rich can make sense.1st

Perhaps he has a good answer that will be scrubbed by his lawyers, but never scrubbed clean of the truth.

In the meantime, all that can be said is Mississippi Goddamn!

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