A twitter friend from the the Boston-New York-Philly-DC metroplex asked yesterday about Mississippi in the context of “development”. From my perspective the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia have always stood proof that we either didn’t know how to really fix poverty or weren’t quite so interested if it wasn’t exotic or most likely both.
Although I have never lived anywhere especially near the famed Mississippi Delta, my home has been elsewhere in Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, for more than twenty years and I have Appalachian roots, so I have some personal identification with this topic.
In case you are interested, I am attaching a lengthy essay as titled for this post, about my experiences in moving to the Deep South. “My Turn in the South”. I am exposing myself here as a closet sentimentalist, but so be it.
“Policing the Fair” from Mississippi album on AfriCommons Flickr
More importantly, here is a major development report, “A Portrait of Mississippi” from The Measure of America Project of the Social Science Research Council, from 2009. The bottom line is that of course history matters in terms of human development and we have a long way to go still for our African American residents primarily. History matters in development everywhere, as William Easterly is helping us understand in his current book The Tyranny of Experts. As a Mississippian I am thrilled by whatever interest people have–all I would ask is that you not confuse the Mississippi of now with the Mississippi of Hollywood and the 1960s and that you not look at me crossways because I am from here.
Update: Here is a profile from yesterday’s New York Times of our most famous current celebrity from here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, ABC’s Robin Roberts: “The Morning Muse of Television”.
On the Mississippi Delta I can recommend Shashank Bengali’s series from 2010. “The Mississippi Delta: The land economic recovery never visits.” (I got to know Shashank when he was McClatchy’s East Africa reporter in Nairobi and covered the 2007 Kenyan election and exit poll.)