By: Lee Jordan
My name is Lee Katherine Jordan. I’m a 45 year old African American female living in the poorest state in America…MISSISSIPPI! Through the years I’ve witnessed a lot and lived through many trials here in this state, as well as seen many elements of despair in my community. Racism is still very much alive and well in my state, and of course the confederate flag is still part of its tradition despite countless attempts to have the flag’s symbol removed.
Poverty still a big factor here and low educational levels are still a problem. Initiatives to improve education have been made at the public schools…BUT Our facilities are crumbling and the students are still performing at substandard level on tests. The financial backing of our public schools is nearly non existent and dropout levels continue to be rise among our students..PARTICULARLY African American students here. Needless to say no child left behind has failed to deliver it’s promise in Mississippi.
There still is a racial divide here. For the most part Caucasian students attend private institutions while African Americans primarily are at public ones. Mississippi still is a segregated state despite what changes over decades might have intended for it not to be, especially in our education system. Being a black female is still a trying of your faith. I see my young black sisters still falling by the wayside as a result. I do see some improvements but not all hope is lost. A lot of our black female students have achieved careers in nursing, education, and other various fields, but still at lower numbers than other races here.
As a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, things pretty much are the same now; business as usual. Those that have the opportunity to move to other states and pursue careers elsewhere are still to be expected here. We lose our best and brightest African American students, but who can blame them? The opportunity of success is still here. Those that chose to stay fall into a mere existence here. Young women “left behind” in the education system or from broken homes continue the cycle of unplanned births, not to mention multiple pregnancies by various young men caught up in their own existence.
I’m not the judge or jury of how anyone chooses to bring about life here in Mississippi, but I hate to see our young black women here continually fall into the vicious cycle of no end of loneliness, desperation, and self hate of themselves and their fellow sisters in this state. I myself have no children, so one would say who am I to criticize others? I myself wouldn’t call it criticism, I call it concern. The same situations that I was surrounded by as a young teen myself still exist.
The cycle doesn’t seem to be breaking here and it causes me to sigh and be depressed as. As young person in my twenties, I made multiple attempts to leave the blight and poverty of Mississippi, but was always called back by some family incident or just plain lack of preparation of my own circumstances. I eventually married a nice man and made my own “existence” here in Mississippi best I could. Do I regret still being a citizen of Mississippi? At times I do and it hurts that I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to leave and be successful.
My dream was always to be of a writer.To Let others see what Lee Jordan was about and her writing style. Stories were tossed into boxes and I resigned it to being a hobby, laughing to myself saying,” one day”. It was a passion since my teens, writing countless short stories and expressions of fictional characters in my mind that I could make whoever I wanted them to be on paper, an escape from the realities of living in the existence of Mississippi.
I had a difficult childhood growing up here. Not a problem child by no means, but having been affected at a young age by psoriasis, caused me to have a childhood of torture and turmoil. I was a victim of teasing and bullying by my peers for my skin condition. Many would have thrown in the towel and ended it all. Not me..It Made me stronger and I finished school, graduated, and even attended a jr. College for a while. The experience made me stronger and made me who i am today. I escaped into my fictional characters on paper and that made me happy, If only for a few moments of my life.
The female influences in my life were aunts, they taught me about cooking, cleaning and other various facts of life and I treasured them deeply. Many have passed on now, but the lessons they gave me still are part of my life now. My mother was a victim of mental illness and that was trying for me also. I became the parent and she the child in her final years on this earth and I still carry the scars of that experience.
My aunts were a source of normalcy in my formative years..I Thank god for them and their tutoring. The women of Mississippi. are strong willed and loving, more so than women from other backgrounds, in my opinion. Maybe one day in a generation or so, hopefully sooner, my state will be a place many can be proud to say they are from. I advise all young people to stay in school, go to college and set attainable goals for themselves, especially my young black sisters. You are the future of Mississippi believe it or not. Strong women are the foundation we need to exist.