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Letter to the Editor

On racial inequality and Mississippi identity

Dear Editor,

Anyone from Mississippi knows how difficult it is to reconcile different aspects of Mississippi’s identity.  Our state is home to brilliant authors and businesspeople, but is mired in poverty.  We are the most hospitable, giving state in the Union, but our state is more recognized for its latent racism.  
Our University experiences this same difficulty.  How can we not be proud, for example, of the University Greys, who sacrificed themselves on the field of battle, fighting for their families and their beliefs?  How can we not, with our modern sensibilities, abhor them for what they were fighting for?  
And so we at the University are forced to walk a fine line between past and future, trapped in an often painful place called present.  Pain is what I felt when I read about the horrible actions committed against Mr. Jamal Woods.  Pain is what I felt when I read Mr. Sean Higgins column and his comments about the symbols of Ole Miss.  Pain is what I felt when I saw “re-elect Ross Barnett,” stickers in the Grove on Vanderbilt weekend.
I would like to think that the people who act out on our campus are not from Mississippi.  Mississippians are aware of the line we walk, the pride we have in our state that will always be tainted by history.  I think most Mississippians have family members that have seen how dangerous racism is.  However, we too have sinned, and sinned terribly.  
It is alright to be proud of Mississippi and of Ole Miss.  But anyone who comes to this University needs to know that here we all carry a cross.  We carry a cross for all the sins committed in the name of Mississippi and Ole Miss before us.  We walk a line.  I think we should always have Colonel Reb, have Dixie, and be called the Rebels, if for nothing else than to remind us of where we have been and what we have accomplished since.  We may never be able to reconcile the two sides of our identity, but we must understand who we are.  We are better than the actions committed in our name.  We are Ole Miss.  We carry a cross.  We walk a line.

Tyler Smith
International studies sophomore