"My First Encounter with Chokwe Lumumba" by Politics Blog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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My First Encounter with Chokwe Lumumba

Ha. I was just doing research on mayoral candidates and found this piece I wrote about now-mayoral candidate Chokwe Lumumba when the JFP was all of about two weeks old. My (white) photographer Jaro Vacek and I showed up to cover this meeting and were not treated very well. It was clear they asked us to leave because we were white press.

However, I chose to do my homework and write a fair story about Lumumba, and include that they kicked us out but not black media. When we attended the next meeting, we were treated very differently, and he has treated us respectfully since then.

Interesting trip down memory lane.

In response to:

Tease photo Talk

Injustice Everywhere

The meeting, at Freelon's Restaurant on Mill Street, was called to organize support for controversial African-American attorney Chokwe Lumumba, who may be disbarred by the Mississippi State Bar. Lumumba, founder ...

Comments

Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

It sounds like some of the folks in attendance had lumped y'all together with the Northside Sun. Understandable but unfortunate. Glad it didn't stick.

FWIW, I have never been treated badly at a Lumumba-related or MXGM-related event. Given the number of white allies who have felt similarly welcome, I don't think this was a white thing; I think this was a whoops-thought-you-were-hostile-conservative-media thing.

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robbier 4 years, 7 months ago

"I think this was a whoops-thought-you-were-hostile-conservative-media thing."

And this is still okay by you? So the next time a conservative kicks out a JFP writer and photog, it'll be okay because it was "whoops thought you were hostile liberal media thing".

It's a 2 way street, and Tom doesn't mind regulating press access.

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

Robbie writes: "It's a 2 way street, and Tom doesn't mind regulating press access."

In 2002, Lumumba was not a public official. He certainly has every right to ask press to leave a private event, as we all do. I wouldn't want hostile media at a private event, personally, and I doubt you would, either. Government functions are, of course, a different story.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

His problem then was that there was no indication that we were hostile -- other than the color of our skin. And to be fair, it seemed to be his team who did it, including a prominent lawyer. If I recall correctly, they also sent out a notice about it and invited press, so there is that problem. At the first event, he made some booming anti-white comments as well, although he'd toned it down by the second event and even called us out as different after the story I did and some conversations I had with his folks.

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bill_jackson 4 years, 7 months ago

Nice spin. Mr. Lumumbas' attitude regarding whites in Jackson is well established. He did compare Whitwell to Theodore Bilbo, afterall. Kind of a stretch there. If he were to be elected there will be a shortage of for sale signs.

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

Bill writes: "Mr. Lumumbas'[sic] attitude regarding whites in Jackson is well established. He did compare Whitwell to Theodore Bilbo, afterall."

Yes, and there's some justification for the comparison, given the state of the Mississippi Republican Party. It's not one I would personally make—Whitwell is relatively moderate; Phil Bryant more visibly embodies Bilbo's values—but if you really think Lumumba's only issue with Whitwell is that he's white, I think you're saying more about your own prejudices than you are about his.

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robbier 4 years, 7 months ago

Some justification for comparing Whitwell (or in your words Bryant) to an early 1930s democrat governor, racist, member of the KKK, and whose name is synonymous with white supremacy? Riiiigghht.

Tom may be the best troll in the history of the internet. I think Bryant's a little goofy, too, but you're just flat out funny.

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

On a policy level, there's certainly some justification. Whitwell got his start, after all, by defending the use of Confederate emblems at Ole Miss, which is something Theodore Bilbo would have appreciated. But whether you agree with the comparison or not, you are mischaracterizing Lumumba's views—just as you have mischaracterized mine—by suggesting that his issue with Whitwell is based on racial prejudice. Whitwell has already done more than enough, in his young political career, to remind people of the Dixiecrats.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm actually not spinning anything. I like Lumumba, but I totally understand folks' concerns about his attitude toward non-African Americans. I was, after all, kicked out of his meeting in 2002 because I was white.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

Robbie, pay attention. I don't think it was OK to kick us out. But I could have handled it several ways. I could have only written about that part and got my white feathers stuck straight up in the air and never spoken with him again. Or I could do what I do: Research stories and facts, and tell is like it is/was. Because I chose the second, my paper has continued to have access to Lumumba and have even been on the "same side" on problems like Frank Melton. Does that mean I dig anything stereotypical about whites he's ever said (and said that first night)? No. And does that mean that I don't have any sense of history and why African Americans would have a problem with whites. No.

The world is not binary, and I refuse to exist in that limited place with some of y'all. Try thinking outside your own personal frame from time to time. You'll influence more people that way. Or at least find more mutual respect.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

And for the record, I am a straight-up integrationist (which the late Richard Barrett disparagingly called me one time much to my delight). So even as I can be in the same room with people who stereotype one race or the other from time to time, and have conversations with them, I can never go along with segregationist approaches regardless of the reasoning behind it. And it's extremely short-sighted no matter who is doing it.

All of that said, I'm a huge fan of people, and families, who evolve their views—including many I know right here in Jackson (some of their kids and grandkids have interned and worked for this staunchly integrationist paper, in fact). I'm not saying that is true for Lumumba; he speaks for himself, and we will have a cover package on him soon you should watch out for.

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

This has probably already crossed your mind, but you might contact the folks at MIRA. He has been a very visible and helpful ally to the immigrants' rights movement—the racial profiling ordinance he proposed several years ago was, I believe, written primarily to protect Latinos in the event that the state legislature passed a racist Arizona-style package.

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robbier 4 years, 7 months ago

I was talking to Tom, who seemed to be condoning kicking y'all out because Lumumba et al thought you were "hostile conservative media".

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm not condoning the specific ejection of the JFP; I'm saying that a private citizen's decision to eject press that s/he perceives (even incorrectly) as hostile at the beginning of a private event is not the same thing as "regulating press access." You have now misrepresented my position twice in this thread, Robbie, which is a pretty remarkable achievement.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

True, Tom, but remember I said press was invited. That's how we knew.

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Tom_Head 4 years, 7 months ago

Right—I completely agree that the JFP should not have been ejected, and that this was not handled well. My objection was to Robbie's statement that "Tom doesn't mind regulating press access."

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

Well, he could do that -- which I admire greatly -- and still have an anti-white streak in him. That's his right, but it concerns me in someone who is elected to represent the entire city. I'm more a fan of people that Charles Tisdale would have placed in his Brown Society for their willingness to work with fans and built multiracial (including white) alliances. Now, as you know, I don't want a mayor controlled by powerful whites. It's about a good balancing act to me.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

I see your point, Robbie, but I don't think Tom minds if I jump in and even disagree with him. He and I have agreed and disagreed for years, unlike you who seem to come here simply to disagree with anything I say. But I don't mind. A forum with lots of viewpoints is more interesting as long as y'all stay out of the gutter and trollville.

Carry on.

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robbier 4 years, 7 months ago

Ha, don't worry about.

But we do agree on a few things.

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donnaladd 4 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and point of information: Bilbo was a Dixiecrat of the worst kind. And the Dixiecrats, sadly, moved to the Republican Party after Johnson signed civil rights legislation. The Republican Party has been trying to recover from that "southern strategy" (of appealing to racists for votes) for years now, and it's coming to a head nationally since the last presidential election when they got walloped. Thank God. I'll so welcome the "old" Republican Party (the Party of Lincoln before it became the Party of Strom) when it rediscovers its roots and kicks out the crazy, racist wingnuts.

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