Classism in Madison | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Classism in Madison

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Brad "Kamikaze" Franklin

I could make the case that Mary Hawkins Butler's aggressive resistance to JSU's Madison campus is about race. There are definitely indications, over time, that people of color aren't exactly welcomed in her "queendom," such as men being pulled over for "driving while black" and the city's refusal to include apartment complexes.

One can make the argument that Butler feels an HBCU means an influx of minorities to her city, which in some folks' minds means more "undesirables" who will bring more crime and general mayhem. And let's be honest: Many of our suburban neighbors subscribe to that prejudiced way of thinking.

But let's look at this from another perspective. Personally, I've conceded that Madison simply doesn't welcome me and, thus, it doesn't get my consumer dollars if I can help it. Look at the businesses she has courted. Then look deeper into her alliance with Tulane University. Compare Tulane's tuition with that of Jackson State University's. Compare the average incomes of the parents of both schools' students. Then research the average household income of Madison residents compared to the average Jacksonian.

Isn't this controversy not just about race but about class as well? Could it be that Butler is willing to absorb accusations of racism to get closer to the ideal suburban "fiefdom" that she has envisioned?

In my opinion, Madison's mayor isn't "racist" but "classist." She doesn't necessarily have a problem with black people; she just prefers those who can afford to live her lifestyle. She's partial to what I call "high-end earners."

Picture her city as Gucci--the store that only people who can afford the merchandise even enter. Tulane is a prestigious university. To Butler, JSU is not, so it doesn't fit her plans. She was not welcoming of her own Jackson alma mater, Belhaven University, either.

I draw from experience when I say that Jackson is a lowbrow, low-budget, generally inferior municipality to Mayor Butler, and she wants no traces of it in "her" city. There is no "metro" to Butler; there is only Madison. Still, we foolishly extend olive branches.

I contend—as I always have—that Jacksonians should make a conscious effort to spend their dollars within the limits of our city. I'm not built to patronize places I'm not welcomed—because of my skin color or my tax bracket.

And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.

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Comments

Scott1962 6 years, 5 months ago

Frank Bluntson per your editor used to supply Frank Melton with boys and he's probably going to be your next mayor. Kenneth Stokes and his lovely class act wife are both prime examples of the melting pot of inclusiveness jackson is. Why don't you get your own house in order before you start being critical of highly successful and wildly popular mayors of other cities? A city that is safe and has great schools, neighborhoods and little crime compared to the least educated children in the country and a crime rate everyone except JFP can see? No one give a flip if you shop here or come here but these chip on your shoulder "they think they're better than me" articles of yours have become tiresome and ridiculous

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robbier 6 years, 5 months ago

Divisive articles like this are sad. If Madison wants to be about high percentage of home ownership and a high per capita household income, good. Let them do it.

Jackson and her suburbs are in this thing together. I guarantee you a large percentage of Madison residents work in Jackson proper, so they still affect our local economy as well.

The sooner everyone realizes we're all in the pot together, the better, whether you make 25k or 250k.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 5 months ago

Wow Scott(writing likes its 1962)....if you take away Jackson, you don't have Madison. You're a 'bedroom' community. MOST of your residents work outside of Madison, specifically IN Jackson. You people in Madison need Jackson. Jackson needs Madison for NOTHING. You have no industry that could sustain the residents there. Get off your high horse and come to reality. This isn't trashing your TOWN it's just stating facts. Your town can't sustain itself. That's why people like you spend their time trashing Jackson to make where you are seem so much better. You guys need to find some Madison self-esteem. It's obviously lacking!

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donnaladd 6 years, 5 months ago

Don't be inaccurate, Scott. We are well aware of crime issues here; we just don't believe in boiling down into non-thinking sound and campaign bites.

Here's an issue we dedicated to the crime issue, and what to do about it:

http://www.jfp.ms/crime">http://www.jfp.ms/crime

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bananaman 6 years, 5 months ago

Kaz, putting aside what clearly seems to be a personal grudge against the mayor, what is wrong with trying to keep property values high and thus real estate tax revenue up in order to offer high quality public education and fully supported emergency services? Might those be reasons for not allowing apartment complexes, trailer parks, and such instead of sheer racism and classism you're implying?

And Knowledge, I know many Madison residents work in Jackson, but many do not. I also know that many companies that maintain a corporate office in Jackson do not generate the vast majority of their revenue by being located in Jackson or from Jackson residents. To say that Madison would not exist without Jackson seems to be offbase and myopic.

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tstauffer 6 years, 5 months ago

Kaz, putting aside what clearly seems to be a personal grudge against the mayor, what is wrong with trying to keep property values high and thus real estate tax revenue up in order to offer high quality public education and fully supported emergency services? Might those be reasons for not allowing apartment complexes, trailer parks, and such instead of sheer racism and classism you're implying?

Somebody needs to tell Dallas, L.A., Atlanta, Houston, New York and San Francisco that apartment buildings lower property values. It isn't only lower-income people who rent; in fact, I would guess that over the next 25 years Madison is going to hope for some density and might start more projects to house aging boomers and empty nesters.

To say that Madison would not exist without Jackson seems to be offbase and myopic.

Or... just a fact. Sure, Madison might exist but if it weren't for its proximity to Jackson, it would probably look a lot more like Terry or Hazelhurst or any number of towns in Mississippi that were founded along the railroad and falter as time wore on. The fact that its main industry is attracting and re-locating the wealth that had previously been centered in Jackson doesn't mean it has to always go on doing that, but it does help explain a lot.

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bananaman 6 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Kaz and Knowledge for replying.

Perhaps in 25 years Madison may have apartments. Anything is possible.

And I'm glad to know conjecture = "fact".

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Knowledge06 6 years, 5 months ago

bananaman, please explain to us how Madison would exist (as it does now) without Jackson. The success of Madison depends on whether property taxes remain high. That is the single largest revenue stream for the City. In order for that to continue, your residents have to work where they can maintain the houses to continue paying the property taxes. Your growth area is limited in all directions. I assume Sam's will be your savior and substantially increase those sales taxes. Good luck with that especially since Canton is opening a Wal-Mart Supercenter and the traffic you think you would have received is going to be limited.

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bananaman 6 years, 5 months ago

Knowledge, I inferred from your retort above that you were stating that Madison would not exist, period. I disagreed. Would it exist as is? Nobody knows, and arguing what state it may or may not be in would be based purely on supposition and futile. And please provide statistical data that breaks down the revenue streams of the city. I really would be interested to see how big of a piece of the pie is made up from real estate taxes. And as for your statement regarding Sam's, I personally wouldn't assume anything.

With that said, I still don't get the point of this article. How does sticking your tongue out at areas that are thriving help the city of Jackson's plight? It seems to me all it does is alienate the very people that Jackson needs in order to help it out of it's current funk.

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kdavis 6 years, 5 months ago

I had said to myself that I was going to give up posting comments on the JFP during Lent but then Todd goes and insults my beloved hometown of Terry as a faltering railroad town that does not look as pretty as Madison. So now I have broken my promise. Having spent the first 18 years of my life in Terry, the middle 4 in Oxford (and boy were those fun!), and the last 32 years in Northeast Jackson, I think that I have a unique perspective on the history of the Metro Jackson area and the pros and cons of each. Truth is, when I was a child in the 1960's, Madison and Terry were the same size. In fact, Terry was probably a little larger. We competed against each other in sports in the old Capitol Athletic Conference. There was not much in Madison except for the old high school where Tulane is located now and Sledge's Gas Station. What happened over the years was a dramatic decline in all areas of Jackson except for the Northeast corner and Belhaven. Madison prospered due to its proximity to Northeast Jackson, the Reservoir, better golf courses etc. I hate to cast broad stereotypes on areas, but I would say that the majority of Madison's growth came from an influx of people that moved to Jackson not people that were natives so to speak that were drawn out of NE Jackson. With the decline in most areas of Jackson, there was a scarcity of developable land for upscale housing in Jackson so Madison and Northern Rankin counties benefitted from being closer to NE Jackson and all of its upscale amenities. All of these areas thrive because of Jackson. if you have any doubts, rise early one morning and watch the incoming traffic from all four directions. Todd, I would not describe Terry as faltering but rather most of the people that live there are hard working (many in Jackson) and are not floating along on 3 generations of inherited wealth or have leveraged themselves to the gills in order to have a designer house with neatly manicured lawns like the countless subdivisions in Madison. People in Terry like to keep their horses in barns about 50 yards away from their house so they can take care of them themselves and ride them daily versus people in Madison who store their horses in place like Providence Farms for a small fortune and get to go out there a pet them occasionally. Different strokes for different folks as the old saying goes. People tend to choose where they want to live to be near the activities that are important to them. So much for today's history lesson. To be continued

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kdavis 6 years, 5 months ago

The question is what do we do in the future. The surrounding communities and Jackson depend on each other. As a resident of Jackson, I do get tired of the looks I get from people that question why I still live in Jackson. I like it here. I like the proximity to downtown, my church and other activities that I enjoy. The local news media (JFP excluded) tends to portray the city as being much more dangerous than it really is. I walk my dogs every evening before I go to bed and I don't feel the least bit scared or threatened. However, I will admit when I drive through old neighborhoods that I used to frequent such as South Jackson and West Capitol Street, I wonder what in the hell happened. These were thriving areas in the not so distant past and now large swaths of these areas are deserted by both black and white people. I do tip my hat to Habitat for doing a miraculous job with some blighted areas in the city but we have got to figure out a way to entice people to move back. I think the Two Lakes proposal would be a step in the right direction. This would make a lot of presently uninhabitable acres of land in Jackson prime real estate. Downtown redevelopment is VITAL. Go to Chattanooga and see what they have done. That could happen here IF everyone would get behind it and I mean all Jacksonians and the people of Terry and Madison and other surrounding areas. Lastly, I think there is too much divisive rhetoric from some (not all) of our city and county leaders. The one thing that people throw up to me about Jackson that I cannot defend are some of the shenanigans of some of our elected politicans (not calling names but you all know who they are). This has got to stop and for the life of me I cannot understand why people keep sending them back to office. Sorry I went on so long but I desperately want to see this area thrive and prosper yet sometimes I feel like the situation is hopeless. Thanks and don't diss Terry anymore Todd.

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