Today the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on racism in Decatur, Ga. (AJC article is behind the paper’s paywall.) The article was published seven months after I emailed and texted Atlanta and Decatur reporters and bloggers about black men being racially profiled by Decatur police during a summer 2013 “crime wave.” None of my emails or texts received replies.
Decatur, Ga., resident Don Denard was stopped by Decatur police officers for “walking while black.” After having his racial profiling complaint dismissed by a Decatur Police Department internal investigation, Denard and his friends and supporters went to city hall. The video embedded above was compiled from the February 18, 2014 session.
- Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (4th ed., Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2013)
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (The New Press, 2012)
Sidewalks: we’re lucky that we have them. Just ask people who live in America’s sprawling suburbs and some of the Atlanta, Ga., region’s new cities. Author Jane Jacobs considered them essential to the urban fabric. Sidewalks move people, connect places, and they are key, wrote Jacobs to healthy neighborhoods and cities. Although Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood is connected by sidewalks as old as the neighborhood itself, they don’t always work well because many stretches have been damaged by vehicles and roots or have not been well maintained.
Earlier this month I attended the Compassionate Atlanta kick-off event. It was held at the Carter Center Sunday Feb. 2 and more than 300 people participated. According to its website, the new group’s objective is ”to have the City of Atlanta named a ”Compassionate City” under the auspices of the Compassion Action Network International.”
It’s a simple proposition that first was suggested by spiritual writer Karen Armstrong in a 2008 TED Talk. Since the talk, she and other around the globe have built on the initial message. Armstrong and now others are repeating the message in events like the one at the Carter Center: “A compassionate city is a profoundly uncomfortable city – one that is not self-satisfied.”
First watch Armstrong’s 2008 TED Talk and then read the Charter for Compassion and if you’re so moved, sign it.
I was putting together a PowerPoint for my program on gentrification in Decatur, Ga.’s Oakhurst neighborhood and I added this chart. Decatur has lost more than 50% of its African American population since 1980. According to data posted on the City’s website (unconfirmed), the latest (2013) breakdown of the Decatur’s demographics have it at 74.1% white and 19.5% black. In 2010 it was 78.3 white and 21.7 black. In three years, Decatur lost an additional 2.2 percent of its African American population while gaining new residents of different ethnicities.
… we continue to attract a diverse population with a wide range of age groups, racial backgrounds and economic levels. — City of Decatur website
Since 1970 most of the city’s African Americans have lived in the Oakhurst neighborhood. This chart graphically illustrates gentrification’s replacement power.
© 2014 D.S. Rotenstein
“The Plan” is deeply embedded in Washington, D.C., urban lore. According to Washington author Harry Jaffe,
“The plan” is a persistent conspiracy theory among many blacks in the District. It assumes that whites have had a plan to take back the nation’s capital city since the advent of home rule in the 1970s, when the city started electing blacks to local office. The white power structure is bent on moving blacks out and whites in, and it will always control the levers of power.
The Washington “Plan” is easily dismissed as contemporary conspiracy theory that dates to 1979. Academics, journalists, and pundits generally agree that despite demographic changes to the city once dubbed “Chocolate City,” there is no systematic plan to relocate Washington’s black residents beyond the District limits.
Although Decatur, Ga., has never had an African American “power structure” despite having a whole two African American city commissioners in its 191-year history, longtime black residents believe that Decatur does have a “plan” to eliminate them from the city’s ranks. Like Washington, the demographic data support popular observations that Decatur’s black population is declining. And, like Washington, that trend is easily explained by market forces and gentrification. Continue reading
October 2013 wasn’t the first time the Decatur, Ga., City Commission heard pleas from residents of the gentrifying Oakhurst neighborhood to halt the disintegration of their community. In February 2003 another group of Oakhurst residents asked the City Commission to “have their backs.”
Antioch. They call it Hibernia now but it was on Atlanta Avenue. I watched my neighbors sell ice cream, fish sandwiches, having teas and dinners, sacrificing to buy the windows and to buy the bricks. I mean they were doing labors of love, you know, and trying to pass it on to the next generation. And when I pass by the building now, it almost breaks my heart because they were working the sweat of their brows, trying to establish a place for this generation. — Sarah Kirk, March 2012.
Sarah Kirk¹ recently drove by an abandoned brick church north of Hibernia Ave. in Decatur, Ga. The 75-year-old Decatur native had heard that the property had been sold. Built for the congregation in which her family had worshipped since the last decades of the nineteenth century, she was struck by the gutted edifice. The building’s last congregation, Decatur United Church of Christ, had acquired the property from Antioch AME Church, one of Decatur’s oldest African American religious institutions.
Fellmongers disappeared from the American industrial landscape in the last century. They were specialized meat and leather industry byproducts dealers who also prepared skins and leather from lamb pelts removed in slaughterhouses. In 2000, the last American fellmongers processed a batch of wool inside the Pittsburgh Wool Company. The exercise was captured in a documentary film produced for the Pittsburgh History Center and was documented in reports I prepared for the History Center and for the National Park Service (now in the Library of Congress: HAER No. PA-572).