Today, I want to take you back to my childhood days in Ruleville, Mississippi. I'll share heartwarming memories of playing with friends, picking fruits, and enjoying simple pleasures. However, as I reflect on those cherished moments, I can't help but contrast it with the environmental challenges faced by my own children growing up in Sulphur, Louisiana. Let's delve into these contrasting experiences and shed light on the impact of industrialization on our community.
Nostalgic Summers in Ruleville, MS:
Situated in the Mississippi Delta, Ruleville holds a significant place in the history of Blues music, boasting a strong association with the genre. Similar to the way Farish Street was once the heart of the African American community in Jackson and Beale Street in Memphis, downtown Ruleville held immense cultural importance for its African American residents. Notably, Ruleville served as the hometown and final resting place of the revered civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer. It was here that Hamer delivered her renowned "Is This America" speech, representing the Freedom Democratic Party, during the 1964 Democratic Convention, leaving an indelible mark on the fight for civil rights.
As a little girl in Ruleville, MS, summers were a magical time. Our backyard was a haven for adventure and exploration. I vividly remember the joy of picking plums, peaches, and apricots from the trees, their sweet scent filling the air. These fruits became the centerpiece of our little picnics with friends. We would walk around town gathering aluminum cans and sell them to the junkyard, eagerly collecting the money to buy treats from the local store. Our refreshing drinks were made by mixing water from the hose with packets of Kool-Aid and a dash of sugar. Oh, the simple pleasures that brought us so much happiness! The water in Ruleville is the best water I've ever tasted and I truly believe that's in part because the water was separated. The hot water had a tower and the cold water had a tower. Now, the water towers really don’t dispense hot and cold water. It’s a little but of roadside humor that will put a smile on your face and keep you going for a few more miles. Nevertheless, the water in Ruleville was safe, clear and clean and it kept us hydrated on the long summer days.
We'd stay outside all day. When we'd try to go inside our parents would say, "stay in or out" and of course we'd choose to stay out because we loved being out side. The air was easy to breathe, food was abundant and the water from the hose was clear and refreshing. My children don't get to enjoy those simple pleasures and sometimes I wonder if I did them a disservice by not raising them Ruleville.
The Environmental Reality of Sulphur, Louisiana:
Fast forward to the present, and my children are growing up in Sulphur, Louisiana. While this town has its own charm and beauty, it is marred by the presence of numerous petrochemical plants. The consequences of industrialization have taken a toll on the environment, impacting the air and water quality in our community. The once pristine water hose that quenched my thirst as a kid has been replaced by contaminated water that carries multiple advisories. These advisories restrict the consumption of fish and even crab fat, robbing us of the pleasure of enjoying the bountiful seafood this region is known for. Water that is life, the thing that brought me so much joy as a kid is impacting my children's health and prohibiting them from having those same experiences of playing outside all day that I once had. This is not the only restriction of me telling my children, "stay in or out" as my parents once did. It's also the hotter summers and extreme heat, and the contaminated air, it's not easy to breathe.
The Battle Against Greedy Profiteers:
The actions of greedy profiteers are often exacerbated by the complicity of both government and big banks, which perpetuate a cycle of overburdening communities with polluting industries. It is disheartening to witness how these entities prioritize profit over the well-being of individuals and the environment. The government, entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding its citizens, often fails to implement stringent regulations or enforce existing ones, allowing industries to continue their harmful practices unchecked. Additionally, big banks provide financial support and investments to these polluting industries, further enabling their expansion and perpetuation of environmental degradation. This collusion between profit-driven entities undermines the health and prosperity of communities, leaving them to bear the burden of pollution and its detrimental effects. It is crucial to hold both government and big banks accountable for their role in perpetuating this cycle and demand more sustainable and responsible practices that prioritize the health and prosperity of communities over short-term financial gains.
As I reflect on my childhood in Ruleville, MS, and the challenges faced by my children in Sulphur, Louisiana, I am reminded of the importance of preserving our environment. It is essential that we stand up against the exploitation of our natural resources and advocate for cleaner and sustainable practices.
It breaks my heart to witness the overshadowing of our love for Southwest Louisiana by the actions of greedy profiteers. The pursuit of financial gain has come at the expense of our health and the natural environment. It's disheartening to see the negative impact on the ecosystem and the potential long-term consequences for future generations.
By sharing our stories and raising awareness, we can work towards creating a better future for our communities and the generations to come.
Thank you for joining me on this journey down memory lane and exploring the environmental challenges faced by my beloved Sulphur, Louisiana. Let's continue the conversation and take action to protect our environment for a brighter future.