Old Fourth Ward in downtown Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., used to be – in the words of the Atlanta Business Chronicle – “a troubled region full of rundown properties.”
A 2011 New York Times article notes the community was 94 percent black in 1990 and was less than 75 percent black at the time of the 2010 US Census; in 2016, it’s less than 50 percent black.
Of course, if you remove the people who rundown properties, blacks, the area will magically come to life once you sprinkle in enough white people. [Life returns — slowly — to MLK’s old neighborhood, CNN, January 27, 2016]
It’s not magic: remove blacks and replace them with whites and see a rundown community quickly come to life (conversely, remove whites and replace them blacks and a once-thriving community will quickly disintegrate into… ” a troubled region full of rundown properties.” [‘This can’t happen by accident.’:For generations, African Americans have faced unique barriers to owning a home — and enjoying the wealth it brings. In Atlanta, where predominantly black neighborhoods are still waiting for the recovery, the link between race and real estate fortune is stark., Washington Post, May 2, 2016]
Scholars in Atlanta lament what white people do to “a troubled region full of rundown properties” when the community loses its majority black population, with one Georgia State professor actually worried about “the fabric of the community” displaced by whites. [Can anyone stop Atlanta’s rapid gentrification?, Creative Loafing, February 3, 2015]:
And Georgia State University Sociology Professor Deirdre Oakley, who’s studied gentrification, says changes in education and income levels are often a sign that new people are moving into a neighborhood, not longtime residents improving their life circumstances.
“Here in Atlanta, traditionally a [predominantly] African-American city, these neighborhoods aren’t just becoming more affluent, they’re becoming more white,” Oakley tells CL . “The question is: What has that done to the fabric of the community who lived there before these neighborhoods gentrified?”
There is no “fabricof the community,” dear professor, when individual black people are collectively creating”a troubled region full of rundown properties.” The black population in these highly desirable locations represent the detriment to progress.
Some white people lament how they positively impact property value, where once a house was constantly depreciating when blacks were the majority race in the community only to start appreciating when white people start to move into the area and drive up the value of otherwise worthless property. [How Gentrification Really Changes a Neighborhood: I knew the price of my new home in Kirkwood, just not what it would cost the neighbors who’d lived there for generations, Atlanta Magazine, March 1, 2016]
Though no one in the world laments what black people collectively do to individual white people’s property value (see Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, Rockdale, Gwinnett and Fayette County in metro Atlanta, as outlined in Black Mecca Down ), a recent discussion was held in Atlanta on white people were doing to improve the once dreary quality of life black people had created in Martin Luther King’s birthplace.
A friend of mine attended. Here’s his report:
Some months back I learned that there was going to be a panel discussion or a symposium at the Capital City Club on Gentrification in Atlanta.
Since I own or did own a number of intown vacant lands, this subject was of interest to me. I hoped to learn where gentrification would go next as well as to get facts and figures on what had happened in Atlanta in the past few years in regard to gentrification.
However, the program proved to be limited to a gripe session and offered little to nothing in the way of information to those in attendance.
There were 7 speakers on the program.
All but 1 of the 7 were African Americans.
The sole White was Jim Burress, the station manager for WABE Radio, Atlanta’s public radio station (or more accurately “government radio station” since “public” radio was funded and initiated by government money and consistently takes a pro-big government, anti-taxpayer position on most issues).
While the Republicans – understandably in view of NPR acting as virtually a press agent for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party – have taken a pruning ax to funding for NPR, NPR still receives a significant percentage of its money from the government. However, NPR is careful to try to camouflage this. Its periodic announcements during the day refer to such-and-such a program as being “brought to you by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
If the cuckservatives and Republicans had any backbone, they would make it a condition of NPR receiving government money for the network to announce instead, “This program brought to you by the Federal Treasury paid for by your tax money.”
WABE’s license is held by the scandal wracked Atlanta Board of Education so really nothing that took place at the seminar in regard to Burress was any surprise. When the federal government created National Government Radio back in the 1970s the licenses were placed in the ownership of dependable supporters of The System such as minority dominated school boards.
Everyone on the panel was in agreement. They were all opposed to gentrification.
The Blacks complained about how White people were moving in. “There goes the neighborhood.” The lone White, Burress, complained that his employees at WABE could not rent apartments or buy homes cheaply in hip, trendy gentrified neighborhoods. He thought that this was extremely unfair and that something needed to be done to enable the journalists to live in neighborhoods that were out of their price range.
One of the Blacks was a policeman with the City of Atlanta Police Department.
He was a jovial and rather likable figure.
He said he had grown up in The Old Fourth Ward. Some months before his brother and sister had come back to Atlanta. He took them for a sentimental ride through “the old neighborhood.” He and his siblings were shocked at how White it had become. He reported that his sister remarked, “Where are the people who look like us?” The policeman and his siblings were not pleased to see the neighborhood lost to White people.
“Fair Housing Laws” apparently are to be interpreted so that Blacks can buy in White neighborhoods but it is a subject for displeasure when Whites buy in Black neighborhoods and “push us out.”
The other African Americans complained about their people not being able to afford housing costs in gentrified neighborhoods and their being forced to move to the suburbs. Having to move to the burbs subjects them to the inconvenience of long and expensive commutes. Whites can certainly relate to that, in view of the fact that they have been subjected to this for years.
There were desultory and rather limp suggestions and references to ways to keep Blacks in the neighborhood. These suggestions took the form of things like a report on some apartment building (I think located somewhere in The Old 4th Ward) in which several hundred units exist on which tenants pay only about $30.00 a month. The speaker said that the overwhelming majority of these tenants were African American single mothers. This facility apparently predated gentrification and it seemed to be the consensus that it would not be likely that more of them could be easily funded now after gentrification has taken place.
I was especially interested to hear what Jim Burress would have to say. As the sole token of racial diversity he obviously stood out by skin color alone. Alas! As with “diversity” in general there was no interest in diversity of opinions, ideas or ideology. His talk was all of the same piece as the talks of the African Americans except that he chimed in by talking about the plight of young journalists who are priced out of the cool, trendy Atlanta neighborhoods where members of their generation like to hang out and flirt with each other.
He thought this was extremely unfair.
When the question and answer period came, I raised my hand and asked Burress a question.
I told him that urban pioneers (like myself) had bought properties in what are now the cool neighborhoods where his young journalists want to live long before the neighborhoods became hip. Not only did such investors risk their money. They risked their safety and even their lives. Now he was demanding that the fruits of the vineyards that other people had planted at the risk of the persons and money be made available today at yesterday’s prices to people who have taken no risks. There are neighborhoods today that are where The Old 4th Ward was 10 years ago. Capital View, Capital Manor, Adair Park. You can buy houses there for $65,000 that are already habitable and fix them up. This is going on. Urban pioneers are there. Wouldn’t it be fair that his young journalists at WABE start at the beginning point and take the risks that others had taken when they went into The Old 4th Ward?
Burress as a good journalist had a clear answer to my question.
Burress said that his journalists shouldn’t have to wait. They have a “right” to get into the gentrified desirable neighborhoods right now. They should not have to wait. They are entitled. And they are entitled to SAFE as well as hip neighborhoods. It would be wrong to make them take any risks.
After the program adjourned I made my way up to the speakers’ table to speak with Burress. He eyed me rather warily and hostilely as I approached.
I tried to break the ice by quipping that I must be a masochist because I, a conservative Republican, was a faithful WABE listener.
Burress did not crack the faintest twitch of a smile and made no response.
I pressed on.
In addition to his remarks about the plight of young journalists who did not have the money to live in neighborhoods they could not afford, Burress had also trotted out that most tired of all contemporary liberal bromides: the need for a “conversation” about race. Speaking from the standard template he and similar self-loathing Whites use, he had explained to the audience that Whites just didn’t want to hear about race, that Whites have never faced up to the issue of race, that Whites haven’t heard about race, that we need to “end the silence” and so on.
It’s as it Burress and his ilk really expect people to believe such tripe…after 3 generations of non-stop guilt trip propaganda aimed at Whites from the politicians, the priests and preachers, the public (and private) schools, the colleges, the universities…
Having heard Burress trot out this favorite line, I wanted to challenge him (and WABE) to have a real, a genuine, a legitimate “conversation” about race…by featuring people like Jared Taylor who had a different point of view on the subject and would express the opinions of the considerable percentage of Whites who don’t by in to the guilt trip.
So, I made the point that no dissident voices are ever featured on NPR in general and on WABE specifically in these discussions about race. Perhaps WABE should have someone like Jared Taylor appear…
I was going to fill in the information about Jared in the expectation that it was likely that Burress had never heard of Jared…but I didn’t get to that part.
Perhaps Burress did in fact know who Jared was.
Burress glared at me and replied, “God damn you!”
He then backed away from me, not turning his back (for fear of harm?) until he was some steps away at which point he turned and hurried out of the room.
So ended my trip to the Capital City Club to listen to the program on gentrification.
America is irredeemable, though the story of white people restoring life to an area of Atlanta black people had – when left to their own devices – managed to turn into “a troubled region full of rundown properties” brings a huge smile to my face.
That it’s Martin Luther King Jr. birthplace makes the smile even bigger.