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Category: The South

Chatting with Strangers

Chatting with Strangers

I spent the past week traveling through my home state of Mississippi. I read from my latest novel at bookstores in Oxford, Greenwood, and Jackson, before heading to New Orleans for the Tennessee Williams Festival. My mother and my husband stuck with me through Mississippi, but I am on my own in New Orleans. I don’t mind traveling alone. When you explore a city on your own, you can do it any way you please. And it’s a good way…

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Age is No Excuse for Hatred

Age is No Excuse for Hatred

In the same week that our president was spewing some of his worst racist comments, Edgar Ray Killen drew his last breath at the state penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. Killen is the notorious klansman behind the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He was not convicted for the brutal crimes until more than 40 years after the fact, and even then he was only declared guilty of manslaughter. He spent about a dozen years in jail…

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Mouthy Women Unite

Mouthy Women Unite

This week in Louisiana, a teacher was arrested for speaking at a school board meeting. Let that sink in. The teacher, Deyshia Hargrave, spoke out against a proposed raise for the school superintendent. The school board voted to give the superintendent the raise and Hargrave spoke up again, complaining that the superintendent was getting a raise while teachers continued to live with low pay and limited classroom resources. It’s a common complaint in school systems, where teachers are expected to…

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Today, Hoda Kotb Deserves That Morning Cocktail

Today, Hoda Kotb Deserves That Morning Cocktail

I don’t watch morning news-tainment programs, but I’m rooting for Hoda Kotb in her new job as co-host of the Today Show. Kotb is the daughter of Egyptian immigrants. She got her start at a small news station in Greenville, Mississippi, and honed her skills in New Orleans. She is a woman joining another woman, Savannah Guthrie, as the face of a major media empire. For too long, women have been relegated to the sidekick position in the news biz,…

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I Was Wrong. Hallelujah!

I Was Wrong. Hallelujah!

Last night I stayed up past my bedtime to watch Alabama make history. I said a few weeks ago that I didn’t believe Roy Moore would step down. On that point, I was right. But I also said, and believed, that Moore would win the senate seat. I didn’t believe the people of Alabama would elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, no matter what. On that point, I was wrong. And I am so glad. Today Alabama is on…

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When Hell Freezes Over

When Hell Freezes Over

It’s snowing in Mississippi today. Tomorrow a sitting president will visit the state. These rare events seem portentous in their confluence, or maybe I’m too willing to assign meaning where none exists. The president’s decision to attend the opening of the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi, is causing consternation and division among the organizers. Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights hero slated to give the keynote at the event, says he will not attend now. Ditto for Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi’s only…

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My Heroes Have Always Been Journalists

My Heroes Have Always Been Journalists

I’ve always been a fan of good journalism. Good journalism is more than shoving a microphone under someone’s chin and letting them spew. Good journalism takes time. It requires a heightened level of skepticism and suspicion. A good journalist must constantly ask herself if the story she is hearing is true and verifiable, and if the source of that story is credible. This week we learned that journalists at the Washington Post are doing just that. The journalists were not fooled…

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Roy Moore Isn’t Going Anywhere

Roy Moore Isn’t Going Anywhere

Roy Moore, the Republican running for U.S. Senate in Alabama, has now been accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl and engaging in inappropriate relationships with other underage girls. None of the women making the accusations were looking for fame or revenge or even justice. They were sought out by a hardworking reporter from the Washington Post who was merely following the rumors that popped up everywhere she went. Moore’s predilection for young girls was an open secret in Alabama….

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We Read, Joyce Carol Oates. We Read.

We Read, Joyce Carol Oates. We Read.

Give anyone enough time and they will break your heart. I am a southerner. I live in Denver now, but I spent the first 21 years of my life in Mississippi. I first read Joyce Carol Oates’s short story, “How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again” as part of an English class in the Jackson, Mississippi public school system. I knew I wanted to read more and over the years,…

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There Is No Such Thing as a Lone Wolf

There Is No Such Thing as a Lone Wolf

I was raised in a home with guns. My father had hunting rifles, the kind you might use to shoot a deer or a squirrel. He used his to shoot both, though he hunted less and less as I grew older. In later years he used one of those rifles to shoot a snake that was threatening a neighborhood dog. Daddy never owned the sort of gun meant for killing people—no handguns or military style assault weapons. He didn’t shoot…

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