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EPA will investigate allegations of racist spending in Mississippi

After the Jackson water crisis earlier this year, residents and activists sounded the alarm on neglect of the city's water system.


The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced it's investigating Mississippi’s use of federal funds in the lead-up to a water crisis over the summer that left the state's capital city of Jackson without potable water for several weeks. 

According to NBC News

The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether Mississippi officials handled federal funds in a way that discriminated against residents of the state’s predominately Black capital city, which has been roiled by a series of drinking water crises and service outages in recent years.

Jackson is more than 82% Black. The investigation was opened after the NAACP submitted an official complaint requesting it. 

Along with the water crisis, Mississippi’s massive welfare scandal, in which former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money meant to help low-income families, has further exposed the history and current reality of racist and classist exploitation in Mississippi. (Favre has denied any wrongdoing.)

Having personally driven from the mostly Black Mississippi Delta into substantially whiter Hattiesburg, let me tell you: The inequality is stark.

On that note, I'd argue Mississippi’s right-wing governor, Tate Reeves, made a federal investigation into his state a foregone conclusion by joking about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson ... as Jackson residents were still in the midst of a serious water crisis.

(As always, many, many thanks to Ashton Pittman at the Mississippi Free Press for documenting incidents like this.) 

Reeves was all smiles then, but he’s probably feeling a bit differently now that he knows his administration is about to be under federal scrutiny. He’s clearly no fan of people scrutinizing his work — or, in some cases, his failure to work.

Here he is on Thursday, reacting to Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's desire for the city of Jackson to pick its own contractor for the city's water system.

Reeves sounds like a southern segregationist governor from the Jim Crow era, angered over out-of-state “provocateurs” like the federal government getting involved in their oppressive affairs. 

But, whether he likes it or not, the EPA is on the way. Tate Reeves: Prepare for the probe.