Don’t believe the hype, Mississippi is better than that

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 5, 2017

Part of the time our neighbors in the other three segments of the nation are happy to not look our way.

But that changes the instant a negative headline allegedly supporting long-standing stereotypes crosses the screen in front of their face.

Without knowing all the facts, far too many times humans jump to conclusions of what could have occurred in a hypothetical situation, even when only a fraction of the information is presented. Our minds are quick to fill in the gaps, many times utilizing misinformation and falsehoods based on guesses fueled by these stereotypes.

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Here in Gulf Coast region, we Southerners deal with a lot of the negative connotations that go along with these misconceptions. For those who didn’t grow up in the South these stereotypes are reinforced through national media coverage, movies and music.

Because of this negative view, some of our fellow Americans in the North, East and West think the South is occupied by an uneducated population of racists and homophobes, only intent on carrying guns and waving state flags.

A story this week is evidence of that. All it took was one press release from an “activist” organization and the stories flew out of newsrooms with little thought to the ramifications. News agencies with household brand names soon had the word “Picayune” in the headlines and just about every story had a negative spin. Check back though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a story prior to that about our little town, especially one with a positive spin.

Few who wrote those stories, and even fewer who read them, honestly know little to nothing about our town. We aren’t what they say. If they took the time to visit, they would find a town full of open-minded individuals who truly care about their neighbors, no matter their lifestyle.

Maybe it’s time they took the time to learn there’s more to the Deep South than what outdated stereotypes convey.