Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mississippi and Stats

I'm probably the worst person to talk about this stuff.  LT of Look! a Black Catholic blogging fame would be better suited to cover this topic.  I am a white chick.  I bring a terrible perspective, but I'll try my best.

So the report card from the CDC lists Mississippi at the bottom.  The bottom of what?  The bottom of breastfeeding.  Considering MS is the poorest state in the nation, I'm not shocked.  Throw in "traditional values" and "ew...a breast" and very few black women choose to breastfeed and you have very little breastfeeding.  In my entire time growing up and living there, I never saw anyone breastfeeding a baby.  Seen plenty of bottles.  No boobs.  So definitely not shocked.  It also makes me leery of every stepping foot there again as I tandem nurse and *gasp* I do something that nobody I've ever seen does in public or private settings: breastfeed among people.

Needless to say until I moved away from home, I never knew much about breastfeeding.  It was like sex- people giggle about it but it's considered uncouth. The only time someone talked about it around me was a college friend ribbing her then boyfriend about being breastfed all the while gloating that she was not.  What she said exactly was "do you remember your mom's boobs...ew gross."  I knew it was wrong, somehow.  But I couldn't say anything as I was not breastfed either and uneducated about the subject.

Yeah, just thinking about ever going home while breastfeeding terrifies me.  Despite the law being in my favor, I don't like being a social pariah.  I like my semi-anonymity. 

I should mentioned that I was born there and went to school there and left when I was 22.  So my perspective on Mississippi comes from a person who is a Mississippian.  I don't like that state.  I have no good feeling about it.  Apart from it's "closeted" racial discrimination, I felt discriminated against.  Not in the same way that LT may feel (I really can't speak for her), but as a Catholic white chick in Southern Baptist territory...it was not fun.  Still isn't fun.

Southern Baptists are historically have racists ties.  The Southern Baptist Convention, currently the second largest denomination after Catholicism, split from the Northern Baptists because they weren't allowed to do missionary work.  SBC believed and preached that slavery was okay. Naturally the Northern Baptists didn't like it.

So today after I decided to get out of my house, I took the boys to Chick-fil-a.  While sitting in the play area, a grandma and I were chatting.  She asked me if I went to school at the local U and I said no that I was originally from Mississippi.  "Oh," she said and then made some mention of some place.  I looked at her blankly.  "Brownton (or what she said) you know revival.  Have you heard of it?"  "No."  "Well my daughter went to Bible Camp (or college or school I can't remember) there.  Beautiful place."

I guess it's easy to mistake me for being an SBC.  I was born in Mississippi after all.  I must be.  When the largest religious group is SBC followed by United Methodist and then third on the list are Catholics well...naturally one thinks that to be a Mississippian means you have an accent (which I never have had one) and to be SBC.  Right?

But it got me a little upset.  I'm not an SBC.  I don't want to be one.  I think it's great that they've sorta cut ties with their racist beginnings.  I mean they did just recently elect they're first ever Black President.  That's better than us Catholics.  We're so slow to change...most of our popes are German, French, and Italian white guys.  Heck, it would be great if we ever had an African pope (or an American pope for that matter).  So who am I to criticize....


Maybe I still can....remember that "closeted racism" that looms over Mississippi like a cloud.  The one no one ever claims they are but still use the 'n' word like it's perfectly normal.  And no I'm not meaning Negro either.  It's still there even among SBC churches.

The good thing about being Catholic is that priest's don't cave to congregants because their job isn't determined by their parishioners.  Fr. Joe, a Mississippi priest who blogs at Southern Fried Catholicism, eloquently explains this.   A priest or minister's job is to lead the people.  When a priest or minister is instead lead by the people to whom he is supposed to guide, well...then I don't really call them a good minister.  I understand that he felt that his job was on the line.  I get it.  But it still doesn't make what happened right.

And this, my friends, is why I say I don't like Mississippi and why closeted racism will persist.

Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference.  ~ Edmund Burke

1 comment:

I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!