It’s intensifying. I’m referring to what Peniel Joseph calls the backlash to the Third Reconstruction. His latest book of the same name chronicles the cyclical and violent white backlash to Black progress in this country. You can see the highly coordinated, racist strategy being conducted across the country as I type - just as it has been in previous periods - to prove that Black people are unworthy of citizenship and incapable of governance. This is the unadulterated justification for upholding white supremacy by any means necessary.

Missouri and Mississippi are the latest targets of the rightwing steamroller in state legislatures. With Republicans totally dominating these legislatures, they are aggressively carrying out the calculated plan to derail the political and economic agenda of Black folks. All that cannot be taken back will be discredited or destroyed.

What’s happening in St. Louis, MO and Jackson, MS is almost identical because it’s coming right out of the same GOP playbook. The two cities are the blackest in their respective states so it’s no accident that they are in the crosshairs.

Both have Black mayors struggling to implement progressive agendas in a hostile, anti-Black environment. Both cities are plagued by high crime rates whose root causes can be found in the capitalist features of poverty, broken educational systems and income inequalities. Mayors Tishaura Jones and Chokwe Antar Lumumba are constantly being battered by the white establishment for not controlling crime. Or as I say, for not having a safe space for whites when they want to come into the urban center.

In Jackson, MS - home of the man-made water crisis - House Bill 1020 was passed by the white House of Representatives and if it becomes law, the white chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court would get to appoint two white judges to oversee a new white district within the city. The white state attorney general would appoint four white prosecutors, a white court clerk, and four white public defenders for the new white district. The white state public safety commissioner would take over an expanded Capitol Police force, currently run by a white chief. They can use their white power to neutralize the blackity Black scene they find so repulsive. The white attorneys general stand ready to reinforce or intervene with white heavy-handed authoritative action.

In St. Louis, woke voters have been consciously dismantling the white power structure of a southern kind. Now the mayor is Black. The prosecutor attorney is Black. The comptroller is Black. The congresswoman is Black whose district covers the city. This is an unacceptable situation for white folks who need to be in control.

The white Missouri House of Representatives voted for a bill that allows the white governor to appoint a white special prosecutor to take over the duties of the democratically elected city prosecutor when violent crime reaches a certain threshold. HB 301 states that the white governor gets to determine that “a threat to public safety and health exists” based on reviewing certain crime statistics. Translated, this means when white folks feel unsafe coming into the city for their recreation and socializing.

The persistent struggle of African Americans for racial equity, inclusion and prosperity continues to elude us. The factors that led to the failure of the first reconstruction were racist violence (by white citizens and police), suppression of the Black vote, the removal of democratically-elected and appointed Black officials, the enactment of repressive laws and policies, the lack of enforcement of existing laws to protect Black citizens and the indifference of white people to the horrifying situation.

It’s past time for Black people and our allies to intensify our struggle to defend our rights and our progress. It’s time to seriously engage is direct action and disruption. It’s time to make the lives miserable for those who are stripping us of our power because they can. The white state rep who introduced the house bill in Missouri lives on the other side of the state. Why is he acting like he’s concerned about safety in a St. Louis?!

The carefree lives of people who are depriving and denying Black self-determination must suffer some discomfort and a whole lot of inconvenience. Commerce must be disrupted - no more business as usual. Literally.

The millions of dollars made when white folks come into the cities for sports, concerts and conferences must be blocked. We will not concede to this modern day states’ rights agenda of white supremacy that takes the power from Black elected officials and leaves them with a title and no authority.

History can repeat itself and those who don’t know their history are often doomed to repeat it. We know what happened after the first and second reconstructions. It’s time to write an ending that gives life and meaning to Black citizenship and Black futures.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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