Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, have little to no running water after flooding overwhelmed the capital city's damaged water treatment system last week.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a water system emergency Monday and said the water shortage was likely to last "the next couple days."
This is how the white, conservative Mississippians have controlled the Blackest state in the country for centuries and quashed dissent: largely, through political starvation.
The city's 150,000 residents have already been under a boil-water advisory for a month over concerns of bacteria, viruses and parasites potentially contaminating the cloudy water. Black people make up nearly 83% of the population.
“Until it is fixed, it means we do not have reliable running water at scale,” Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said during an emergency briefing Monday night. “It means the city cannot produce enough water to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.”
It’s important to note the culpability here. Mississippi conservatives like Reeves have for years directed funding away from the state’s capital to predominantly white, right-wing strongholds on the outskirts, continuing a legacy of racist exploitation that spans from the slavery era until now.
In April, Lumumba called out the state's "racist" refusal to allocate additional funding to fix the long-standing issues plaguing Jackson's water infrastructure.
“There are going to be people who don’t like that I say that,” he told Mississippi Today. “But if they really have heartburn about it, prove me wrong. I dare you."
This is how the white, conservative Mississippians have controlled the Blackest state in the country for centuries and quashed dissent: largely, through political starvation. That’s what Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press wrote about Jackson’s water crisis last year. Racist power brokers, she said, tried to destroy Black Mississippi by “withholding the financial resources necessary for the basic running and maintenance of, say, a capital city, its public schools and its water and sewer systems.”
To be clear, Mississippi conservatives in the present day have declined to give Jackson’s yearslong water crisis its proper attention, focusing instead on a host of right-wing culture war priorities such as banning abortion and discussions about racism in schools.
And as Ashton Pittman of The Mississippi Free Press noted, all but one of the state's Republican members of Congress voted against a bipartisan infrastructure bill last year that included billions of dollars authorized for states to spend on improving their water systems.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made clear in a tweet Tuesday that Mississippi will still be able to use some of those funds. But the fact that nearly all of the state's congressional Republicans voted against these funds in spite of Mississippi’s clear need shows they’re more invested in upholding racist power structures than seeing Mississippi thrive.