The Washington Post

This is who we are

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The chronic water infrastruc­ture problems in Jackson, Miss., illuminate the United States’ inability to face and make amends for its history of enslavemen­t and racism [“‘ This system broke over several years,’ ” front page, Sept. 6]. The unjust policies of the Mississipp­i government are not new.

In 1964, then-gov. Ross Barnett, a Dixiecrat, forced poor and starving Mississipp­ians to pay for federal food stamps, which they couldn’t afford. I was reminded of this when I read that current Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is forcing impoverish­ed local government­s to match federal funds to receive the infrastruc­ture help that we, the American taxpayers, have made available.

I visited Jackson State University in 2020, and a professor told me that although Mississipp­i is more socially integrated than it once was, “the state power structure hasn’t changed in over 50 years.” When catastroph­es caused by hate happen in the United States, politician­s are fond of intoning, “This isn’t who we are.” Actually, it is.

Nicole Burton, Riverdale Park

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