December 3, 2017 Djuan Coleon

Atlanta Is this the end of the “Black Mecca?”

On the surface you look at the Atlanta Mayoral race and it looks like a race between a two women, one black and one white. A race for the political control of a diverse city that has been democratically led for decades. Can the voters be objective and vote for the independent? Atlanta is in the midst of rapid city wide revitalization as evidenced by the cranes all across the skyline. As “smart city systems” come online who will be able to “Live Work and Play” in Atlanta. How can Atlanta be sustainable and resilient for ALL residents of every demographic and income level? Does having a white mayor end the reality of Atlanta being a “Black Mecca”? Does policy play a bigger role in who thrives or do you have to have black leadership in order for black people to thrive in the “city too busy to hate?”

FEAR OF A WHITE MAYOR 

What are we saying in 2017 if we have a white Mayor in a majority black city then it’s going to be bad for black communities? Historically this could be true but we also have to look at historically in Atlanta since 1974, how have traditional black communities fared under black mayors. I wish we could get past “black and white” in the South and deal with policy but unfortunately since the Atlanta Riots in 1906, race has always been a specter in Atlanta politics. My agenda is about putting low to moderate communities at the forefront of the political discussion. One of Atlanta’s most famous citizens said:

“As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.”- Dr. King, “The American Dream” speech, 1961.

“God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.” – Dr. King, “Strength to Love”, 1963

When we talk about the future of Atlanta we have to look at this future holistically with every stakeholder in mind from those living below the poverty line to those who are living in Midtown in expensive condos. The idea of “Black Mecca” can’t be just about successful black people in a majority black city, we have to consider what those who are not “prospering” have to say about their own experience in Atlanta. In the video below a black woman tells why she is voting for Mary Norwood.

People have REAL concerns, as much as the black population would LOVE to see another black woman follow in the footsteps of Mayor Shirley Franklin and become mayor. There are legitimate concerns that should be addressed by the next mayor. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin did endorse Mary Norwood.

THE BAD AND BOUJEE UTOPIA Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 5.27.37 PM
Part of Atlanta’s swag is it’s abundance of black celebrities, Atlanta is black Hollywood. If you only watched reality TV about Atlanta you would think every black person is driving a Wraith and having elaborate parties by the pool at their mansion. Once we get past the glitter and the galas we have to deal with a more holistic reality in Atlanta, it is a tale of Two Cities. If we look at Mayor Kasim Reed and his policies the last 8 years was it progress for Atlanta? Well if you look at that the new Mercedes Benz stadium “yes, Atlanta is world class”. Yet I also must ask who gaining progress? There are some people who are advocating to “Keep Atlanta Black” but I ask for which black people? The Bad and Boujee who are eating at Houston’s or everyday black people who are eating at JJ Fish & Chicken? The black folks who are paraded on reality TV from Atlanta don’t represent the majority of people who live in Atlanta. So how do we measure progress? Ponce City Market? I still see the SAME homeless black men outside of Ponce City Market by the Starbucks that were there back in 2006 when it was City Hall East (I used to worked there). The data suggests that unfortunately in too many cases black leadership has not served the everyday people they represent like they do the billionaires and celebs they gala with. What does Atlanta look like where Big Mama lives?.

THE OTHER ATLANTA

-22.5% of the population in Atlanta, GA (434,759 people) live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 14.7%. The largest demographic living in poverty is Female 25-34, followed by Female 18-24 and then Male 18-24. <—THESE ARE BLACK FOLKS!!! (link for data)

-the majority of black folks who have been represented by black city council people —> make less than $25,000 a year, look at the areas below in light blue, this is where black folks live and have been represented by black political leaders. Why can’t we talk about the obvious? Why can’t we expect our elected leadership to do more for our vote besides just get the vote “just cause?”.
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Below the map shows the areas in red where people who don’t have access to a vehicle in the Atlanta Metro area. Some affluent people will say “Just ride MARTA” but they may not have had to get around on MARTA before. I have it’s an ordeal as this person describes below.

“MARTA makes my 12-minute commute by car into a two-hour ordeal involving a bus, a train, another bus, and a third bus. . . . I don’t know anyone who rides MARTA by choice. It’s always poor people, disabled people who can’t drive, or people who’ve lost their license due to DUI.” –http://commuting.blog.ajc.com/2015/05/29/how-to-make-marta-even-smarta/

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– Again The largest demographic living in poverty is BLACK Female 25-34, followed by Female 18-24 and then Male 18-24.

“The recession in Atlanta was particularly brutal for everyone—rich and poor, city and suburban. The housing market took a beating and dragged the whole metropolitan economy down with it,” says Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings and one of the report’s co-authors. “The region is now recovering, but rather unequally.” The USDA considers “poorly stocked corner stores” as supermarkets. Most of the areas black people live in don’t have a Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Market, or Trader Joe’s or Publix. How is it that black elected leadership doesn’t understand the people they serve need fresh organic healthy food too like the white folks? We can’t “Live Work Play” if we can’t eat healthy? These are not “new issues” and it’s sad that in a Democratic city, a black Mecca that you have these systemic issues impacting traditional neighborhoods for decades.
(link to data and maps)

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– Home Values the predominately white northside and the predominately black southside is stark: Homes in North Dekalb have appreciated by as much as 40 percent while homes in South DeKalb have depreciated by 40 percent. (link to data)

For example, one homeowner says the home he bought in 2005 for $269,000 was recently valued at $189,000 when he tried to refinance his mortgage.

“It just does not make sense,” he said. “You’ve got doctors, lawyers, teachers, all kinds of professional people, retired military like myself, who’ve done everything right — everything right — and it never seems to work out in our favor.” (Why doesn’t the elected leadership have the answers Sway?)

– The Worst performing schools in GA —> Four school districts in the core metro Atlanta area were represented on the list: Atlanta Public Schools and the DeKalb County School District each had 16, the most of any district in the state; Fulton County had eight and Clayton County had one. (link to data)

– In a region that prides itself on celebrity chefs and lush farmers markets, half a million people live without access to something as basic as a grocery store. (See below)
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– the safest neighborhoods in Atlanta are the white neighborhoods not the black neighborhoods who is to blame for this? Republicans who are not in charge? (link to data)
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-There seems to be this HATE for the Homeless in Atlanta has as it was ranked No. 4 “Most Neediest Cities”. Thousands are homeless and Researchers counted approximately 3,374 homeless youth in metro Atlanta — almost triple the number of people counted in previous surveys. The report found three-quarters were African-American and a little more than half were male. A little more than half of the males were between the ages of 20 to 25 years old. Less than 5 percent of the youth were minors. And nearly one-third identified as LGBT. (link to data)
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BLACK ATLANTA IS A TALE OF TWO CITIES, I love T.I. and all the black celebs but the average black person in Atlanta don’t ride Wraith and live in a mansion YET our politicians too often cater to that black constituency more than Big Mama who lives on Cleveland Ave. We have to define what “Voting Black Means”, who does it benefit? We can’t keep ignoring the reality of everyday folk in order to showcase The Bad and Boujee Utopian Dream in Atlanta. Too much of Atlanta is like the 1970s sitcom “Good Times” where people are “scratching and surviving…Good Times” and the blame can’t be solely placed on republicans. Atlanta’s future is promising but we have to make a more inclusive city for all it’s stakeholders regardless of social class. Atlanta just can’t be a black mecca for a few people in order for it to be the world class city it aims to be. The city has to graduate and be a Mecca for everybody, regardless of shade of skin color (Asians, Latinos, Black White everybody should win) And this blog is #NoShade it’s about considering everybody from the homeless to those in the suites in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Let’s be True to Atlanta in the spirit of Honorable Maynard Jackson and include everybody in the progress.

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