Where Charlottesville Meets Atlanta
Charlottesville is a sobering reality of how we view social mobility in this country– fear of people, anger toward immigrants, scorn for religious groups, perceptions of others’ progress and assumptions of related impacts. At the heart of the debate on racism is a battle about economics and social mobility. The assembled groups coalesced dark and hateful forces to send a message to the country that their place on the social and economic hierarchy would be maintained at any expense. The statue of Robert E. Lee provided a convenient rallying point both as a call to arms and for the values it represents.
Atlanta prides itself on being more forward thinking, especially among southern cities. Large, diverse and bustling with business, it has distanced itself from the harmful reputation of its divided past with a new mantra as a “City too busy to hate.” While this may be true, we can’t forget an important fact about our beloved city: Atlanta ranks third in the nation in terms of income inequality. The top five percent of households earn 17.5 times the income of the bottom 20 percent of households. The most lasting fragments of racism in our country – income inequality and economic depression – still plague thousands who call Atlanta home.
Atlanta is full of working families who fall at or below the poverty line, many of whom are the very face of our economic disparity. Let’s be honest – they are often African-American mothers and fathers with young children, living south of Atlanta’s Mason-Dixon line (otherwise known as I-20) and earning below a living wage. The neo-Nazi and supremacist groups that rallied in Charlottesville would rather see them remain on the margins of economic success – a most insidious form of racism. The best way to send a powerful message to those groups is to commit to empowering the least of these economically. Atlanta can continue to lead the way by being assertive in our commitment to supporting families who still are wrestling out of the vestiges of racism.
Che D. Watkins, President and CEO, The Center for Working Families, Inc.
Learn more aboutThe Center for Working Families, Inc here: www.tcwfi.org
**Photo by Steve Eberhardt. See more of his photos from the GA Resists: Take Down White Supremacy March Atlanta 8-19-17 Here