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.