Mississippi can rise to the top and win

Published 12:00 pm Monday, April 18, 2016

In light of the controversial events that have transpired because of Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 locally and nationally — opposition from some notable Mississippians and companies refusing to do business in the state — the yin and yang of the universe decided that on the last season of one of America’s top-rated television shows, two Mississippians were selected to showcase their artistic talent — one of the fine things Mississippi is very well-known for — and a Mississippian won the contest.

Within every place and every person, you can find both good and bad.

For far too long, Mississippi has had a reputation of ranking last in many categories. It has become trite to recite the list. The state has the highest high school dropout rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest obesity rate, highest poverty rate, worst economy, and the lowest life expectancy in the country.

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Mississippi students have ranked last in school performance, and the state has one of the highest unemployment rates.

We read these studies over and over again, and does anything ever change? Are any state leaders spearheading effective campaigns that are making a difference in any of these areas? Have they in the last 10 years?

It has been said before, but if Mississippi was viewed as a business and these problems continued to exist year after year — problems that obviously cost the state and its businesses money — someone would be fired for not doing their job — for not even making enough progress to elevate us to the 49th or 48th slots — a small, but seemingly attainable goal.

It’s time that Mississippians, who are sick of the lack of progress in this state, start making different choices in leadership. While we’re on the subject of equality, ask yourself if you want a Mississippi that is equal, as good as, or better than other states in terms of the quality of life? Or do you just not care and want things to stay the way they are, the way they always have been, and the way they will continue to be another 10 or 20 years?

Stop voting for candidates based on morality platforms. As an adult, chances are you’ve seen enough national political scandals from both parties over the years to know that means nothing.

Instead, we need smart people with new ideas to run for office in this state who can offer something innovative that is obviously lacking. Otherwise, we wouldn’t remain at the bottom of these lists year after year after year after year …

More than 10 million people tuned in to see which Mississippian was named the winner of the last season of “American Idol.” Mississippi finalists Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae demonstrate another well known fact about Mississippi — it is teaming with artistic talent and creativity — a gift that could be discovered and harnessed in many other ways in this state.

Let this “Superbowl of American Idol,” as it has been called, that featured two talented Mississippians in competition be a lesson that we should become just as enthusiastic about competing to win other contests in this state that we are currently losing.

Wouldn’t it be nice to prove that the underdog of poverty, racism, teen pregnancy and many other issues can battle these problems, win and triumphantly become an American Idol example for the rest of the nation?

Lareeca Rucker is a staff writer for The Oxford EAGLE. Contact her at lareeca.rucker@oxfordeagle. Editor’s note: This column has also run on The Huffington Post website. Follow LaReeca Rucker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lareecarucker.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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