Kitchen table convos from the Gulf Coast South. 
As Southerners, this is our moment. We have an opportunity to rethink our communities’ foodways and reliance on the corporate agriculture structure, interrogate our response to the climate crisis on the Gulf Coast, and build better, safer cities for everyone. It’s our chance to tear down the prison industrial complex, brick by brick, to demand the right to vote for all. It’s our shot to build a better future—one that designates that our current system is out of step with our values. 

In step with this moment is Ko Bragg, Scalawag’s new Race & Place editor. She's based in New Orleans, where she is always on the hunt for oysters, but will always consider Mississippi home.

I know a lot of y'all out there are writers or hope to contribute to Scalawag one of these days, so I wanted to take the time in this week’s Salt, Soil, & Supper installment to give you the opportunity to get to know Ko now that she’s on staff. Ko is also a contributing editor with our kinfolk over at Southerly. Most recently, she was also a reporter for The 19th News. 

I think Ko joining us at Scalawag says something big about our little magazine, but I’ll let her do the talking from here. Once you wrap up this week’s interview, try my jalapeño cheese bread recipe below. 
Xander Peters: You're new to Scalawag but you're not 'new' to Scalawag. You published some of your first work at Scalawag, right? Is there a favorite piece of yours? 

Ko Bragg: The first story that I ever pitched to an outlet that got picked up was this story that I did about a man named Ike Brown out in rural Mississippi, actually not too far where my parents lived. He was at the center of this civil rights case, where he was the first person sued using the Voting Rights Act to protect the white vote. Basically, they were saying that his efforts successfully overturned Noxubee County, a majority-Black county that had zero Black representation in county-wide leadership. He essentially was able to mobilize people and flip that, and he got sued for it for basically "reverse discrimination," or reverse racism, for lack of a better term. I got to spend some time with him and go out with a photographer and kind of contextualize that case, as some of those attorneys in the Justice Department were doing similar things in other states. I was really excited to have the space to get into that narrative. I'd seen some things written about it, but I think, because it's so close to where I live, it was really nice to have that space. It's still a story that I reference and that I think about often, and I think is just one of those evergreen stories, like most Scalawag stories, that are just like: Huh, I was thinking about that and wasn't getting the room [to pursue that story] in other [outlets]. 

 (See also: Mississippi keeps charging young Black children as adults, in Scalawag) 

XP: Do you have any particular goals for the Race & Place editor position? 

KB: Yeah. Actually, yesterday, I wrote out a list of things that I'm thinking about expanding to cover, like migration, incarceration, foodways still—a lot of the things that Danielle built. I’m excited to continue her work and also kind of meld some of my interests—a lot of justice reporting. Migration reporting and immigration reporting is race reporting and is rooted in place. I'm really excited to kind of test the boundaries of what the Race & Place beat could be and contextualizing some of these political and social movements and moments we’re going through. I think it'll be great to have overlap with some of the other existing beats, like the arts and culture and politics beats. I'm really excited about both that overlap and pushing the boundaries of what this could mean for Scalawag. 

XP: I  know there are a few writers out there who read Salt, Soil, & Supper. How would you describe the Race & Place vertical’s story wheelhouse for those who are hoping to pitch you?

 (See also: Stories by our former Race & Place editor, Danielle Purifoy, in Scalawag)

KB: I'm big on making time to work with writers through ideas that may not be a fully fleshed pitch, or maybe it's an idea in the works—I love those. This country thrives on and has been built on white supremacist doctrine, which bleeds into the way we live in terms of housing stories, and in terms of school stories, which are race stories because a lot of schools are so deeply segregated. Stories about incarceration and written by incarcerated people are race stories, because of the way that system was built, specifically, with race in mind...
Read the rest of our conversation about Ko's plans for Race & Place

There are massive chemical dumps in the Gulf we know almost nothing about

HuffPost, Chris D’Angelo

“In the 1970s, the EPA allowed chemical companies to dump toxic waste into the deep sea. Now, oil giants are drilling right on top of it.” 

Oversight lacking as companies abandon Gulf of Mexico oil and gas pipelines, federal audit finds

The Times Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, Tristan Baurick

“In a report to Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office determined that federal regulators rarely conduct or require underwater pipeline inspections.” 

In Texas, Biden's infrastructure plan raises hope of an 'Ike Dike' to protect against hurricanes

NBC News, Mike Hixenbaugh

“President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan could include funding for the 'Ike Dike,' which would shield Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast from storms.” 

The BAmazon Loss and the road ahead

Labor Notes, Joe Demanuelle-Hall

“Lessons from Amazon union vote in Bessemer, Alabama.” 

Tap water could be linked to dangerous lead levels in Jackson’s kids. Mississippi isn’t keeping track.

Southerly, Erica Hensley

"Children with dangerous levels of lead in their bodies live in parts of Jackson with documented lead-in-water spikes, a Southerly analysis shows.” 

Bill allowing water commissioners to be paid by industrial customers advances

Louisiana Illuminator, Sara Sneath

“Ethics charges against 5 commissioners would go away if bill becomes law.”

Jalapeño cheese bread

The Ingredients: 
  • 3 cups bread flour 
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 2/3 cup warm water (110–115°F.)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeño slices 
  • 8 oz. freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic (use a garlic press) 

The Steps: 
  • Mix together in a large bowl the flour, salt, yeast, and water until it’s a dough ball. (Note: You may have to add a little more flour or a pinch more water depending on the humidity of the day or where you are in your specific area of the country.)  
  • Dump it out on a cold surface and add a pinch of flour at a time, and then knead for 4 minutes, rest for 3 minutes. 
  • Knead again the same as before, repeat one more time. (Note: Remember the humidity has a role in how much water, flour, and kneading time you may need.)  
  • Once you have a well-kneaded dough ball, add the jalapeños, cheese, and garlic to the dough, and then knead together one more time to distribute all ingredients well. 
  • Set the dough aside in a warm area to rise for an hour, until the dough has doubled. 
  • Heat your oven to 500 degrees for an hour. 
  • After the bread has risen, open the oven door, slide the stone out, and put your dough in the center. 
  • Take a ½ cup of water and throw it in the oven to create steam, shut the door quickly to trap the steam. 
  • Bake for about 25 minutes. 
I hope you got enough to eat. There’ll be enough to go around next week and the week after.


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