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MBJ EDITORIAL: Bryant, others should concentrate on issues, not media

Gov. Phil Bryant was quick to lay blame at the feet of the national and statewide media for Mississippi’s poor race-relations image at the recent Mission Mississippi Governor’s Prayer Luncheon.

Bryant said that the national media must have been champing at the bit to see if he, a white Republican, and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, a black Democrat, would engage in hostile attacks against one another in the 2011 governor’s race.

Bryant credited DuPree, as well as himself, for showing that blacks and whites in Mississippi can get along together in public and during the course of an election.

While well-meaning, we’re sure, Bryant and — those who agreed with him at the Mission Mississippi lunch — should, and probably do, know that one election without racial epithets being tossed around isn’t going to change Mississippi’s image in race-relations.

The media has not inflamed the image of Mississippi to the rest of the country and the world. It has only shone light on it.

It was the former leader of Mission Mississippi, Dolphus Weary, who wrote the book “I Ain’t Comin’ Back,” his story of escaping racist Mississippi in the 1960s, only to come back later in life to try and help make a difference.

It is stories like Weary’s and thousands of others — in and out of the “main-stream media” — that have painted the picture of the Mississippi we all live in.

Mission Mississippi and Gov. Bryant do play a part in the continued reconciliation of our state. However, the vogue trend of blaming the media for your problems is a disservice to the media, for sure, but, more importantly, it diverts attention from real issues and concerns, which delays the very outcome for which we all have yearned as long as we can remember.

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