Ryan's Blog

Ryan Ebersole

Ryan Ebersole
Hattiesburg, Mississippi,
March 16
I'm Ryan Ebersole, and this is my first blog. I am a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, studying counseling psychology. So far, I've managed to survive down here in Mississippi, although I've lived in Indiana, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Puerto Rico. Hopefully I add another state to that list soon! I'm hopelessly idealistic when it comes to my world view, although I try to approach it from a pragmatic view. However, I'd rather be wrong a lot then to give up my faith in humanity. As a gay man, I take the rights of my community very seriously. I hope to be a little mini-advocate; I want to spread news about my community in the hopes of growing support for our full equal rights. I also help to shed light on what ignorance can foster: anti-LGBTQA violence and pain. Ultimately, I'm a happy guy, with an odd sense of humor and a sense of ridiculousness. In the end, I just hope you read my blog! :)


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Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 10, 2011 7:00PM

Mississippi is Still Burning with Racism

Rate: 12 Flag


The brutal murder of James Craig Anderson in Jackson, Miss., on June 26 invokes an all too familiar theme in Mississippi history: racism. According to news reports, the 49-year-old African American autoworker was assaulted by a group of white teens, including 18-year-old Deryl Dedmond Jr., and then fatally run over in a truck. This crime, tragic and vile as it is, seems to only be the latest example of long-standing racism that appears to permeate Mississippi to the core.

The alleged murderers began their night drinking at a party when Dedmond turned to his friends and said, "Let's go f**k with some niggers." After climbing into their vehicles, they eventually found Anderson in a parking lot near the plant where he worked. After pulling into the parking lot, the teens began beating Anderson while shouting, "White Power" along with racial slurs. Anderson crumpled to the ground. Unbeknownst to the assailants, their assault was caught on camera. After the beatings, some of the teens got into a green truck, ran over Anderson and then fled the scene.

According to reports, Dedmond, during a phone conversation with one of his friends, boasted that he "ran that nigger over."

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith said, "Dedmond murdered this man because he was black." Smith plans to indict Dedmond on hate crimes charges. One of Dedmond's accomplices, John Aaron Rice, has been charged with simple assault.

The incident is likely to stir memories in those old enough to recall the civil rights era. Contrary to Gov. Haley Barbour's remarks that it "wasn't that bad" in Mississippi, there were several high-profile murders of African Americans during those years.

Perhaps most vile was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago visiting relatives in Money, Miss. Till had joked with his friends about asking out a white woman at the local convenience store, and called her "baby" when he left.  Money being a small town, news of Till's conversation spread like wildfire. That weekend, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam showed up armed at Till's relative's home and kidnapped him. Three days later fishermen found Till's naked and mutilated body in the Tallahatchie river. Less than one month later, an all-white jury found Bryant and Milam not guilty of the murder.

That same year in Mississippi two African American activists, Lamar Smith and Reverend George Lee were murdered. Just a couple weeks before Till came to Mississippi, a black girl was severely beaten for "crowding" a white woman in a local store.

In 1964, three civil rights workers - James Chaney, an African American, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, both white - were found dead after having been missing for six weeks. They were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while they were investigating the arson of an African American church.

However, this ugly racism is not buried in Mississippi's past. It remains alive today. A Public Policy Polling survey from April of this year found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans STILL believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.  And it took Mississippi until 1996 to ratify the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery.

An HBO documentary called "Prom Night in Mississippi" featured the town of Charleston, Miss., which, until 2008, had a segregated prom night - holding separate proms for black and white students. In fact, it took HBO showing up with a film crew to get the town to integrate their prom.

Then there is the case of Jamie and Gladys Scott who were released from a Mississippi prison this past December. In 1993, the sisters were given life sentences after being accused of stealing $11 at a convenience store. Two African American youths had actually carried out the robbery, but they drew light sentences after testifying against the Scott sisters. Later the youths admitted that they were the thieves, and that they had falsely accused the sisters of the crime. Their admission was ignored and the sisters, who had no prior criminal record, were sentenced to life in prison.

The sisters went into the correctional facility healthy, but due to the prison's inadequate food and healthcare, Jamie Scott's kidney began to fail. This past December, Governor Barbour, after an outpouring of cries for their release, commuted their sentences. However, he did not pardon them, as he didn't want the taxpayers to have to pay for Jamie's kidney treatments, even though she was falsely imprisoned for 16 years.

James Craig Anderson's brutal, hate-inspired murder is shocking, yet it only serves to underscore the petty racism that still permeates the state. The state that put the Scott sisters in jail knowing they were innocent, that still segregated proms into the 21st century, that largely opposes interracial marriage, and that still flies the Confederate flag as well as incorporating it into the state flag, is also guilty in this crime. Mississippi is guilty of doing little to combat the widespread racism that survived the Civil Rights Era.  Mississippi, in addition to the teens that murdered him, has James Craig Anderson's blood on its hands.

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This is all news to me...not the racism, but the particulars you cite here. I just saw a film about Jim Crow era Mississippi today, "The Help", and left feeling good having enjoyed the film. Your sobering reminder was just what I needed to keep my perspective in order. Thanks.
This is heartbreaking, Ryan. My heart goes out to James Craig Anderson's family and loved ones.
I am a 45-year-old white chick. I watched the film, Mississippi Burning in a Washington D.C. theater where I think I may have been the only white person in the audience.
I hadn't heard this story before reading your post. I teach high school for mostly a lot of smart, white, liberal kids in Boise, ID (the blue dot in a red state). I'm certain they often feel like they don't need stories to teach them not to be racists, but do need stories to help them understand why racism is still a serious problem. As their teacher, I feel it is important to share such stories as the one you have written about.
Sometimes more concerning to me in terms of the long run, however, are the more ambiguous situations. When the racism is more subtle or when the reverse racism results in my white students' resentment, I often wonder what to say. What do I say to my students, for example, when they've read a book like The Help, loved it, and then hear resentment from some that the protagonist leader in the novel and film is white, not African American and to overrepresent such portrayals in film is historically inaccurate. Is this reverse racism? Is this legitimate criticism? My concern is that as we negotiate a period of grey area in race relations outside the the more black and white boundaries of Mississippi, that we move forward, not backward.
The incident you describe is a horrific reminder that the past is not dead. But the past is not so present for everyone. How do we stop a vicious cycle from occurring where resentments about the past and present seem to perpetuate modern day divisions between black and white?
Thank you for your post. This is important!
At times, I find myself at something of a loss to help my students negotiate the present.
The only option for the state of Mississippi is to charge everyone involved in this disgusting crime and to do everything possible to obtain convictions. That would show that they are serious about making sure justice is available for all of its citizens. It's the least, the very least, that can be done right now.
Brian please take care of yourself the state of Mississippi is a dangerous place. I was born there but I never lived thereit, is just on my passport. Have visited there a few times, but last time for a few months in the 90s. The evil looks and cold attitudes of many of the whites was disconcerting to say the least. I have lived outside the US for over 25 years and when I returned to the US it's the most unwelcome atomosphere that I experience as a black man. Thanks for speaking truth to power. Maybe we have more people that do that people like yourself maybe in 100 years and will be better
And just think: Guv Perry, that shining example of TX leadership, wants to put a Confederate flag on TX license plates...

The more things change, the more they never do.
important post and interesting comments. Thanks for this & get out if Ole'Miss soon.

@ Terri...I'd like to suggest a website you may find helpful. google "post traumatic slavery syndrome" and look for Dr. Joy DeGruy.
A sobering reminder that racisism is still prevalent. Education has obviously failed to reach those so ingrained with hate. The mindset that still prevails is alarming and the only way to counter it is with swift justice.
Thanks for the Word. Can't say I'm surprised. As a White Woman with out-of-state tags, I'm scared of the same people that get away with more than this in Mississippi. I know enough to stay away. I do remember, back at UVA in the 70's African-Americans wanted to be segregated socially from the Whites on Campus. I know they didn't like me cause I was White. Got kicked out of a African-American Sorority when I went in to hang out by myself.
This is not a great country. It is a place of smoldering hatreds where the law is selectively enforced and where greed is reigning, matched only by those who crave unlimited power of all of us. I know justice wants to be served. Be safe, support the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is a voice in the wilderness, especially the south, where they keep thinking, they wanna rise again...
Bless your heart for giving voice to the spirits still clamoring to be heard. I'm old enough to remember segregated bathrooms, race riots, and my parents reaction to President Johnson's passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. What a long way we have come...and how far we still have to go.
As a 60 y/o white guy, I remember hearing about abuse down south decades ago. I thought it all ended as time kills off the old... but I guess it hasn't. I don't mean to imply that there is no northern racism, but this is something else.

A few years ago, I visited Mississippi (too see the Vicksburg battlefield) and felt something spooky about the town and even the state. I can see that what I saw were the still walking ghosts of racism.
Mississippi is an important state because it is the racism battleground of the United States, where black and white hash it out for everyone to see. Whites still hold the lion's share of political power, and the class disparity between black and white is wide. That said, I know the type who committed this crime, lower-class whites living in a white enclave who drove to Jackson to find a black man to murder. The thing is, all-white enclaves are everywhere, not just in Mississippi, and as someone who has lived in northern states, I found the racism there more subtle, but no less hateful. Racism is everywhere, period. It is just that in Mississippi it is dramatized with unusual candor.
yet it only serves to underscore the petty racism that still permeates the state

It just doesn't seem all that petty to me.

And I thought these people were so big on the death penalty down there - where could that have gone in this case? It seems if it's justifiable in any case, this would be the one. There's no question in my mind it would be on the table if the races were reversed.

No, not petty at all.
Georgia has a racism issue that is prevalent and a mindset that hasn't changed that much from the days of the civil right movement and now looks to have reverted back to the Jim Crow era by abuse of power by public officials against protected classes. State agencies and judges in Georgia are oppressing the minority and other protected classes when we exercised our 1st amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances. See my blog page below for proof in documents and audios showing persons acting under the color of law using their authority to oppress and keep people from exercising their rights. The FBI and the US attorney have been contacted because the misconduct has gotten so out of control. The state agencies are abusing and misusing federal funds. The courts are involved in the misconduct by judges making false statements in orders and opinions and dismissing valid lawsuits against this rogue state of Georgia agency "GA DCA" who is using federal funds for oppression, retaliation, and discrimination, and also to house section 8 tenants in substandard hazardous rentals. Like Misissippi no one will know that racism and oppression is still this bad in Georgia and in America unless someone speaks out about it. I have also contacted the President of ABC News with the facts and evidence presented on the blog page below and he has a duty to let the public know this is going on and report this story because the public has a right to know.



Letter to the President of ABC News:

ABC NEWS MUST REPORT THIS PUBLIC ISSUE Concerning Sandra B. Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing and her agency funding Corruption in Georgia
1 message
S B Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 3:35 PM
To: ben.sherwood@abc.com, A_Braxton
Cc: S B

Mr. Sherwood,

As a member of the advisory board of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C., as founder of TheSurvivorsClub.org, an online resource center and support network for people surviving and thriving in the face of all kinds of adversity, and the President of ABC News I am giving you a public interest story with document and audio evidence that shows corruption in the state of Georgia by a state agency that uses HUD funds to oppress, discriminate and retaliate against section 8 participants who report these violation of law to HUD. ABC news did a story about the abuse of federal funds "Philadelphia Housing Authority Failed to Account for Millions in Federal Funding" and the story involved substandard housing, deliberate indifference to the safety of section 8 families, and an injured child who was injured because of a section 8 rental and all of this was being done while the PHA received federal funding. I and others have gone thru about the same thing under the section 8 program in Georgia at the hands of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and its employees. These issues I report are not hearsay they are documented facts with audios and documents to prove a literal collusion of government in Georgia to keep section 8 participants from exposings these conditions and treatments. Also Sandra B. Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing has prior knowledge of some of these facts because she was contacted back in November 2009 but failed to do anything about it. HUD's office in Georgia has been stalling for 2 years to bring charges against this state agency and people in power are covering the misconduct for the agency, there is also proof of this on my website. I have contacted the FBI, the Inspector General, and other federal agencies to investigate this situation. My family has gone thru hell because of what this agency has done. My youngest child now has worsened asthma because of having to live in a section 8 rental home polluted with septic gas and mold spores. We were forced by GA DCA to remain in that rental home because I went to HUD with my complaint against Georgia Department of Community Affairs, we were even homeless at one point because of this agency and were living in our car in the winter. Another lady by the name of Bonita Hunt also had some of the same issues with Georgia DCA and filed suit like I did. HUD must stop funding this state agency until it cleans house take responsibilty for its employees illegal acts and gets rid of these rogue employees who don't follow civil rights laws. Public employees are abusing power in Georgia and my web pages below proves this as fact.





Sonya Braxton, and those similarly situated.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: S B
Date: Sat, Aug 13, 2011 at 8:07 AM
Subject: Fwd: Proof of your office receiving my voicemail message on August 13th 2011/ HUD must stop funding corruption by housing administrators within the section 8 program in Georgia
To: Sandra.Henriquez@hud.gov, A_Braxton
Cc: S B

Proof of your HUD office in Washington, D.C. receiving my voicemail message on August 13th 2011.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: S B
Date: Sat, Aug 13, 2011 at 7:23 AM
Subject: HUD must stop funding corruption by housing administrators within the section 8 program in Georgia
To: Sandra.Henriquez@hud.gov, A_Braxton , "Shavers, Brenda"
Cc: S B

August 13, 2011

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112
Sandra B. Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing
Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez 4100 (202) 708-0950

ROOM 4100 (202) 708-0950

Ms. Henriquez,

Your agency is funding corruption of those who administer the housing choice voucher program nationwide. Your agency so far continues to allow state created dangers, discrimination, oppression, and retaliation against section 8 voucher holders and those participants who report these illegal acts. My child like the child injured by the Philadelphia Housing Authority was also injured by a dangerous section 8 rental in Georgia. I have contacted the FBI, the Inspector General, and other federal agencies about how HUD funds are abused and misused by these corrupt agencies. Your agency is not blind and knows of these abuses and misuses of federal funds with discrimination, oppression, and retaliation and your agency also knows these administrators are putting citizens lives in danger in these substandard rental homes/units. ABC NEWS has already interviewed you once before concerning these same issues, and it is a shame you claimed to know nothing about these abuses during your interview. Believe me HUD is funding more bad than good in section 8 housing and there are plenty of witnesses to that. Add Sonya Braxton and Children, and Bonita Hunt of Georgia to that list of Housing Choice Voucher participants who have had HUD funds used to allow state created dangers, discrimination, oppression, and retaliation.



I have posted proof in documents and audios on the "open salon" weblink above. I will also leave your office a voicemail this date in reference to this email message.

Sonya Braxton

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