Letter From the Editor 

If you live in one place for a while, you tend to get cynical about it. At least that's been my experience, having lived in such disparate cities as Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, and San Francisco over the past 30 years. Longtime residents of all those cities are convinced that their politicians are the crookedest, that their drivers are the worst, that their clerks are the rudest, etc.

Memphis is no different. To our native legion of cynics, we're the "most racist city," our politicians are all crooks, our crime problem is the worst in America, etc. (Often, the folks making these remarks are the ones who proudly write letters to the paper about how they've "escaped" to Fayette or DeSoto counties. I think they're just lonely out there.)

I was reminded of our universal provincialism when I read a recent article about how Atlanta, a majority black city, like Memphis, may elect a white mayor for the first time in years. My first reaction was, Ha! See — racial politics — just like Memphis. And the article does point out how some black leaders are calling on one black candidate to drop out to help ensure that the mayor's office stays in African-American hands. But what struck me were the following paragraphs:

"And while blacks have been the majority population and voting bloc in the city for decades, the demographics have changed in recent years. A large voting bloc — residents in the city's public housing — was erased as Atlanta's crumbling projects were demolished over the past decade. And young professionals, black and white, have flocked to opportunity in the city.

"In 2000, Atlanta was 33 percent white and 61 percent black. In 2007, the numbers were 38 percent white and 57 percent black, according to the U.S. Census. In addition, blacks may no longer feel obligated to elect a black mayor ... a young generation of blacks — not native to Atlanta — may be staking their vote on matters more critical than race."

This information truly gives me hope. If Atlanta can finally get past racial politics, so can Memphis. If Atlanta can lure young professionals, black and white, back into the city, so can Memphis. If Atlanta can get beyond "racial-majority rules" politics, so can Memphis. Can't we?

Just as we look back and are appalled at the firehoses and bombings and injustices endured by those struggling for civil rights in the '60s, I think the next generation will look back and be appalled at the racial stupidity of this era, when the struggle was all about which skin color gets to wield political power. We can at least hope so.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Tigers 83, SMU 61

Politics Beat Blog

In Brief Address, Governor Bill Lee Takes the Oath in Nashville

News Blog

Haslam Grants Clemency to 23 on Last Day

Music Blog

Listen Up: Bailey Bigger

Hungry Memphis

Midtown Donuts Opening February 1st

Fly On The Wall Blog

On Gannett, The Commercial Appeal, and Digital First

News Blog

Memphians Vie to be Best Pinball Player in State

Politics Beat Blog

No Surprise: Strickland Announces for Reelection

News Blog

Midtown Store to Re-Open Under Safety Conditions

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2019

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation