Cedric Dallas Uses Lessons Learned to Continue Fight for Hometown

Regaining Strength in the Community

The 2017 Hattiesburg election left many with mixed feelings.  Incumbent Johnny DuPree lost his fifth bid for mayor to Rep. candidate Toby Barker.  It was also a bittersweet experience for local entrepreneur and first-time politician, Cedric Dallas.  He competed for the City Council seat for Ward 2 against incumbent Deborah Delgado.

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Cedric Dallas stands at the old Eureka School, the first African American school in Hattiesburg, Miss. (Photo: Cornelius Thompson)

Despite his loss, Cedric continues to push for local reforms in his community.  Using his up-start carwash “Ride and Shine” as a base of operations, he spends time working on projects to bring East Hattiesburg closer as a community.  This includes reaching out to the Hispanic community that resides within Ward 2.

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Cedric poses with one of his coworkers at his new carwash “Ride and Shine.” (Photo: Cornelius Thompson)

Despite political partisanship, some of the disconnect between immigrants and natives is associated with language barriers.  Cedric states that he “found it a little difficult to pinpoint a person that was in some degree of leadership within the Hispanic community.”

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Living conditions are not very good in Ward 2, which is where a large concentration of Blacks and Hispanics reside in Hattiesburg. (Photo: Cornelius Thompson)

He goes on to say that there was “a degree of suspicion.  When you go to the Hispanic community asking questions, they become highly suspicious.  I have been in situations like that because I am not from there.”

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Cedric goes on the record fora podcast with Cornelius Thompson to discuss the unification of cultures in Hattiesburg. (Photo: Cornelius Thompson)

Connecting on a Universal Level

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Despite these barriers, changes are taking place.  Taylor Thompson, a licensed cosmetologist, is learning Spanish on a daily basis at Country Kutz, the salon where she works.  “Because we have a Hispanic manager, we get a lot of clientele that speaks Spanish.  I think I may pick up a word a day,” Taylor says.

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Iglesia Profetica de Dios Fuente de Fe is one of the very few Hispanic churches in the Hattiesburg area, located in an abandoned strip mall in Ward 2. (Photo: Cornelius Thompson)

Not everyone is treated the same when it comes to immigration.  According to Aviva Chomsky, History Professor at Salem State University, in an interview on Rising Up with Sonali, immigration originally was only for people with white skin.  She states that “the idea was to establish a white country and they did it, essentially, through deportation.”  She goes on to state that “the 14th Amendment does not include Native Americans.”

Immigration is also treated differently today depending on where one originates.  Some countries take precedence over others and are allocated more Visas than others.  Despite this, undocumented immigrants only represent approximately 4% of the total U.S. population and Hispanics are likely not the majority of undocumented entries any longer, according to Pew Research.

When asked how long it took to receive citizenship from the Philippines, a Hattiesburg local named “Chato” said “(It only) took a year.”

A New Way of Looking at Each Other

When one looks at the plot of Man of Steel, one can see many different ideologies being shared.  The one that resonates well with our culture is the alien ideology.  The immigrant who spends time in America, working and helping others, contributing to society, and in the blink of an eye, is now an enemy of the state because another invader from his home showed up and caused havoc and instilled terror in the American people.

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The first flight of Clark Kent.  “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive for.  They’ll race behind you.  They will stumble.  They will fall.  But in time, they will join you in the Sun, Kal” (“Man of Steel”, 2011). (Image via YouTube)

It goes deeper with the exploration of the fallout from Zod’s invasion in “Batman v. Superman.”  This film is the reaction film to the mass destruction of one of the most popular cities in the comic-book world.  The film tells the story from the perspective of three characters:  Batman, Superman, and the mainstream media.

This can be paralleled with the Muslim experience in America post-9/11.  This growing trend has been further exacerbated in the Post-9/11 world by President Trump and his campaign against Hispanics crossing into the United States from our southern border and his bar on Muslims entering the country, as well as comments by other political leaders’ comments and positions during the Syrian refugee crisis.

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Bruce Wayne watches helpless as Wayne Tower in Metropolis is destroyed. His building anger mirrors that of the American sentiment on 9/11. (Image via Comic Book News)

Kaleem Aftab states in his article, “’Batman v Superman’ is actually a good depiction of the American Muslim Experience,” “While watching Wayne leading an incensed crowd, shouting ‘Go home! Go home!’ at Kal-El, I couldn’t help but think of all the Muslims being attacked and blamed for the actions of a mindless, nihilistic minority who don’t represent us all.”

Travis Williams, on the other hand, says “I never really saw it that way” when asked about the correlation.

Because we cannot, or choose to not communicate with one another, it creates another hurdle for Americans to overcome and approach #immigration in a less hateful mindset.  Cedric says that “You pretty much have to overcome the language barrier.  They are over here knowing two or three languages.  The first thing we have to do is know how to speak their language and relate to them.”

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Batman and Superman reach critical mass in their clash of ideals, ultimately threatening the existence of one or the other. (Image via Comic Book Movie)

The connection lies in what we see in others and how we view ourselves.  If the world can accept Superman, an alien who has absolute power, maybe they can look at others and see the same qualities.  Being an immigrant doesn’t have to be as hard if we change the fundamental way we all think.

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