Tia the Columnist

Here are snippets of some of Tia’s award-winning columns.

Tia Mitchell: Black Lives Matter may not mean what you think it does

… The movement is about asking those whose job is to protect and serve the public to make sure they are doing it fairly and equitably. It’s about making police agencies and other entities better by pointing out any shortcomings and trying to come up with fixes. And, yes, its supporters have taken to the streets in protest. The vast majority are peaceful.

Second, the Black Lives Matter movement is not about urging violence against police officers or violence in general. Read that sentence again if you need to. Attacking law enforcement officers is simply not part of the platform or the stated goals of the movement. Those who have ambushed officers to deadly results in the past few weeks represent an extremist reaction to the movement, but they are not the movement.

Let me explain it using another polarizing issue in America: abortion. There are many people who oppose abortion. I’m sure many of you reading this column consider yourselves pro-life. Do you believe that people who bomb abortion clinics or kill abortion doctors are justified? Do they represent you?

Should pro-lifers who protest Roe v. Wade on the steps of the Capitol or urge lawmakers to limit abortions in Florida be lumped in the same boat as those who kill and hurt people to prove their point? We may consider such violent acts as terrorism conducted in the name of the anti-abortion movement. But we do not say they exemplify the movement.

Read more of the “Black Lives Matter” column here: 

Tia Mitchell: Emergency spinal surgery gives lawmaker a new perspective on public life

State Rep. Shevrin Jones didn’t plan to end election season like this.
Two weeks ago, his schedule was packed with campaigning for Hillary Clinton and Democrats seeking state office. The rest of his time was spent in meetings ahead of the legislative session or working his day job as a state director for a progressive advocacy organization.

Now things are much different. Jones, D-West Park, is recuperating from emergency surgery on his spine. He is under strict orders to limit activities and movement for the next two months. He has a walker and a wheelchair to get around.

“The only time I leave the house is to go to my doctor appointments or physical therapy,” he said last week.

Jones was elected without opposition to a third term in office, but had remained in campaign mode until the back injury sidelined him. It hasn’t been easy making the transition from active participant to bystander with Election Day around the corner.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “And I kid you not, it was a bit depressing because I really enjoy that. I enjoy getting other people’s message out knowing that I already won my election.”

Partially as a coping mechanism, Jones decided to share his recovery with the world. Shortly after he entered Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood on Oct. 5, he began to talk about his experiences in posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more of the “Shevrin Jones” column here:

Tia Mitchell: Busting myths about Corrine Brown’s redistricting battle

It was quite interesting to participate in the news conference called a couple of weeks ago by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that things got testy when members of the media, yours truly included, asked Rep. Brown questions that she didn’t want to answer. She was there to talk about her federal lawsuit challenging the new east-west district; we wanted to ask about ethics investigations that involve her.

She eventually had her staff kick all of the reporters and cameramen out of the buffet restaurant.

Three busloads of constituents from Jacksonville were audience to it all. They applauded and cheered for Brown and tsk-tsked the media at various intervals. It was surreal.

There was something else I noticed that day. And this notion was confirmed by a reader phone call the next morning.

There are some untruths being circulated about Brown’s redistricting battle and what it means for her career in politics. Those untruths are being perpetuated by the congresswoman herself.

I think I owe it to you, especially those of you living within the new or old boundaries of Brown’s District 5, to help separate fact from fiction. So let’s get to it.


Under a new District 5, an African-American cannot win.

Let me start by saying that no one has a crystal ball, and in Florida politics anything can happen. So no one can guarantee an African-American will be elected in a new District 5. But that is different than saying one cannot win.

The standard the Florida Supreme Court considered when approving the new east-west district lines was whether there were enough black voters that, if they generally vote in a bloc, then can elect a candidate of their choice to Congress. And generally speaking, black voters will elect an African-American Democrat when given the choice.

Read more of the “Corrine Brown” colum here:

Tia Mitchell: LGBTQ debate often seems to be about bathrooms

I’ve watched the public debate over the proposed human rights ordinance in Jacksonville from afar. But this week, I got a taste of it myself.

A Florida Senate committee was considering a bill that would change state law to extend civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The bill would add sexual identity and sexual orientation among the list of things you can’t use to discriminate against someone, joining other things like race, age, nationality and disability.

For every business leader who said the measure was smart policy and something he wanted for his employees, there was another who said serving certain people as the law would mandate might require him to compromise his religious beliefs. Even the lawmakers on the committee couldn’t agree what Senate Bill 120 was about.

The sponsor, Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, said he wanted to make sure the LGBTQ community wasn’t discriminated against on the job, when renting an apartment or going to dinner at a restaurant.

Abruzzo introduced his legislation, Senate Bill 120, during Monday’s meeting as a fairness measure, since Florida anti-discrimination laws already protect people for being treated differently because of their race, national origin, sex, age or disability.

“This is a bill that has Republican support, Democratic support and support from all walks of life,” he said. “This is about moving civil rights forward in our time.”

But most of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee said they felt the measure forces Floridians to compromise their beliefs in order to protect people who may intend to do harm.

Why does this debate always end up focusing on what happens in bathrooms?

Less than five minutes into the discussion, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, asked if the bill would allow a transgender woman to dress in the female locker room of her local Gold’s Gym.

It does. That is partially what caused Senate Bill 120 to die in committee, it’s among the reasons why the human rights ordinance in Jacksonville faces opposition.

There is something about anti-discrimination language that includes transgender people that a majority of folks who make the decisions are still not comfortable with. Let’s just call it for what it is.

Read more of the “bathroom column” here:

*You can read all of Tia’s most recent articles and columns here on her Jacksonville.com author’s page. Many of these stories are behind a paywall, but Tia can provide printouts or PDFs upon request.

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