What’s the Matter with Atlanta?

Where should I begin?

I keep seeing a lot of legislators outside of the city talk about “violent crime” and various things happening in my city. I find this SUPER annoying bc, as a rule, they’re really only doing it to draw people’s attention away from their own communities to a) ensure they don’t have to do any work for their own constituencies and b) make their own constituents feel better about themselves/ where they live. It’s this delightful us vs them mentality of supremacy that really doesn’t solve problems and just pats people on the back for doing jack crap. It’s kind of the worst part about politics, and I really abhor it. It’s the campaign side- all buzz words and lowest common denominator bs that I really have a great deal of difficulty stomaching.

This has come to a head on a few specific occasions for me. The first was last year after the murder of Rayshard Brooks and I had FB friends (literally all of which lived outside of the city of Atlanta) tell me that a) the city was burning b) the area around the Wendy’s was a hellscape and c) Atlanta as a whole was lawless and essentially needed the rest of the state to intervene.

This is complete and utter baloney.

There are problems in Atlanta, no doubt. I think sweeping things under the rug is equally unhelpful. However, the problems Atlantans experience more regularly are less of the pearl clutching type and more of the annoyingly common ones of many big cities. These common problems are solvable. In fact, we have the very tools with which to resolve them, if we can get over ourselves to address them.

The problems we have here are systematic and the violence that’s arisen as of late is both because of Covid19 and already existing inequalities. Covid19 exposed how weak whatever semblance of a system exists here in the city. The vast inequalities have been around since the beginning of the city and only continue to be perpetuated by the very system that is supposed to support the most vulnerable. 

I think people like to think these are new problems, but they aren’t. They’re really old ones, stemming from a legacy of white supremacy, coupled with it’s newest iteration, classism, supported by a weak ethics system that doesn’t really do anything other than provide a type of security theater, and good ‘ol nepotism intertwining city contracts with errbody’s aunties and uncles if you dig deep enough.

But our state doesn’t want to talk about Critical Race Theory bc then we’d have to think deeply about ourselves and how we all (including myself) contribute to these challenges. And the rest of the state really only wants to support Atlanta when we’re inviting Google and Microsoft and the suburbs think they can make money off of it. The Development Authority of Fulton County can give away the futures of Fulton’s youth while the middle managers in the ‘burbs can make enough money for their .com jobs to send their kids to private segregation academies.

For this series, I’m going to talk about challenges in Atlanta, but not in theory. I will be talking about my own experience living in my neighborhood, and my volunteer service within the city and where systems exist (or don’t) or maybe did at one time yet don’t really work well anymore. I’m going to try to talk about the history of places and systems as much as I know how to. I won’t get it all right, and I’m fairly certain I’ll piss folks off, but what’s new? 🙂

I love my city with all my heart and she bleeds at the hands of mismanagement, nepotism, and cronyism. She is a jewel in Georgia’s crown (and one of many), yet has been dimmed as a result of too many oily hands rubbing her for the good luck they hope will be bestowed upon their own lives and circles. Georgia’s success should not rest solely upon Atlanta’s shoulders, but the unified brilliance of all her gems- Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, Albany, and Rome. These cities crown the Empire State of the South and serve as the corridors of commerce and quality of life. It would serve leaders around the state to fix their own little red wagons before they set out to dictate things in mine. 

I hope my words will be read with the understanding that I plead for better for my city, (really, I’m actually begging) and the pleading has to start with me and my own backyard. I pray leaders around the state take that on as their own attitudes rather than focus their efforts on our Capital City.

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