Jackson’s water crisis serves as the most recent example of state politics taking priority over human needs, leaving thousands of Jacksonians without water. The LOU community and Mississippians at-large have rallied together to support victims of the outage, yet we have seen little from Gov. Reeves’s office and nothing from the federal government.
While Jackson residents continue without water and other crises –– such as Texas’s water and power outages or the now one-year-old pandemic –– occur across the country, entire states are blamed for the inaction of their governments while little aid makes its way to those affected. People find it easy to dismiss the problems of citizens of states that are labeled as politically opposite. Even though our state is consistently labeled as deeply red, 41.6% of Mississippians voted for Biden/Harris in 2020.
In our ever-polarizing United States, the “redness” or “blueness” of governments is often the scapegoat for a plethora of incompetences. This led millennial Democrats to sip their coffee while Georgians died of COVID-19 in April and former President Donald Trump to say to “take the blue states out” of national COVID-19 numbers. Human needs have now become a matter of state political representation and not of its victim constituents.
Supporting Black lives means supporting Black lives in red states. Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana are the Blackest states in the nation. Historically, they are among the reddest states as well. If the Democratic Party claims to support Black people more than the GOP, Democrats must not directly oppose itself against red states. “Red states” are never homogeneously Republican, and demonizing a state for the beliefs of its governor or its two senators degrades its residents.
In the American political system, it seems that a simple 50.1% majority can decide the fate of a state or the nation for years to come. This, however, is complicated by systemic gerrymandering and voter suppression found in every state. Steps have been taken to combat this corruption, but these artificial boundaries create deep divisions across the country. Rather than representing their constituents, politicians are fighting for their party’s advantage; this leaves all Americans behind, except the small few whose beliefs directly align with the Republican or Democratic party.
Georgia serves as a great example of why politically typecasting states is not productive. As part of the Southern Bible Belt, many Democrats regarded Georgia as a lost cause to the GOP. However, grassroots organizers, such as Stacey Abrams, mobilized Georgians to go to the polls and flipped the state from red to blue in the 2020 election. This led many Democrats to celebrate their new blue ally, including those who made fun of Georgia’s COVID-19 numbers earlier that year.
Blind allegiance to a party is bad for all, but when that allegiance translates into attacks on the opposition, undeserving victims are impacted the most. The division between red and blue states ignores the systematic marginalization of voting groups within the US and blames a lack of progress on constituents rather than ineffective politicians. Ending the crises in Jackson and Texas requires a closer look at the needs of Americans beyond the color of the state.
Londyn Lorenz is a junior majoring in International Studies and Arabic from Perryville, Missouri.