|Why must Birmingham "comeback"? What must Birmingham "comeback" from?|
In the essay "Civil Rights and the Collapse of Birmingham, Ala." the website American Thinker notes the conviction of former Mayor Larry Langford for corruption at Jefferson County, the county's bankruptcy, crime and allegations of racism in city employment.
"Underlying this fiasco is a mixture of problems, none of which can be solved by the civil rights agenda, or by liberalism in any form," John T. Bennett writes in the essay. "This is not to suggest that those rights should be rolled back, but to point out that today's solutions will not come from civil rights."
The critical commentary comes at the same time the city is celebrating a jubilee year marking 50 years since major civil rights moments of 1963. The article implies that the city is repeating some the mistakes of its past - only in reverse.
In an interview with AL.com/The Birmingham News, longtime political science professor D'Linell Finley agreed with many of the points in the essay, but said it erred by presenting an oversimplified explanation of Birmingham's problems.
"As painful as this article is, these guys have a good point," Finley said. "(However) the city did not go down because blacks became a majority, and thereby took control of the political power of the city. The city went down because as it became a black majority city, it was also losing a significant portion of its affluent population.That affluent population at the beginning was mostly white, but now that affluent population loss represents both black and white."
Finley, a political science professor at Alabama State University, said diagnosing Birmingham's ills is more complicated than which ethnic group took political control.Actually, dear, dear Doctor D'Linell Finley, Birmingham did collapse when the Bonita Carter incident in 1979 galvanized black people in the city to vote almost 100 percent (72 percent black voter turnout) for the black candidate - Dr. Richard Arrington - and help elect the first black mayor by an incredibly slim margin over a white candidate (Frank Parsons, a "law and order" candidate whose defeat ushered in an era where "law and order" are completely absent from the city of Birmingham).
"I cannot disagree with what has happened, but I disagree with how it happened," he said. "How Birmingham got to where it is today is a lot more complex than saying that because the city went black it went down. There are a lot of cumulative factors that caused the city to be where it is today."
Whites flocked to new cities (though they made the tragic mistake of staying within Jefferson County, instead of fleeing to Shelby County -- whites who were genocided out of Detroit abandoned both the city and Wayne County) that, as we have noted here at SBPDL, black people flock to live in, hoping to take advantage of the quality school system, neighborhoods/communities, and economy whites created in their absence.
Strangely, a quality school system, neighborhood/community free of blight, and an actual economy were all things black people were incapable of sustaining/creating in the Birmingham they inherited when whites moved "Over the Mountain."
Tanner Colby's book, "Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America," is an all-out attack on white people in the suburbs of Birmingham for daring to create communities and school systems that excel, when back in Birmingham the black people are only capable of creating... chaos. Somehow, this is white people's fault:
White have deserted the city schools for good. In the 2008-2009 school years, out of the 27,440 students enrolled in Birmingham city schools, only 263 were white, less than 1 percent. Out of 1,157 students, Woodlawn has ten white kids. Ramsay, the once vaunted magnet program, has only five. The schools in identifiably black suburbs, meanwhile, aren't doing much better: they're less than 3.5 percent white. The greatest diversity, as it happens, is found Over the Mountain. Taken together, Hoover, Homewood, Vestavia, and Mountain Brook have an average enrollment that's 14.9 percent black. if you take out Mountain Brook, it goes up to 17.8 percent. That's light-years ahead of where thing were just 20 years ago, but the marvelous diversity in the suburbs is also an indication of just how low the city schools have fallen, and how desperate black families are to escape. Between 1993 and 2009 the black student population of the Birmingham city schools fell from 37,950 to 26,465, a 30 percent drop. "They'll sell their souls to get out," Sue Lovoy says.Birmingham's schools are crumbling from within, and the consequences of that are falling squarely on the suburban school districts that spent the past four decades thinking they could run away from it. Kids in the city get passed through the system learning next to nothing; they're oftentimes four or five grade levels behind. If their parents manage to relocate Over the Mountain, the time, energy, and resources it takes to remediate those students turn into a considerable drain on Vestavia's blue-ribbon resources.Then there are the discipline problems. Violent offenders. Kids wearing ankle bracelets. They get expelled from the city and, after a turn in reform school, head to the 'burbs. "We've had an influx of kids who cannot go back to Birmingham city because they've been in trouble with the law and expelled permanently," Lavoy says. "So we're dealing with them, some successfully and some not."Call it the White Flight Boomerang Effect: because Vestavia legally segregated itself from the city and county, it has no choice but to give a fresh start to the worst troublemakers they decide to cast off. "It behooves all school systems that all school systems do well," Cas McWaters says. "The surrounding systems need Birmingham to succeed. They realize that now. Because this is a topsy-turvy mess were' in."Secession doesn't work. you'd think the fine people of Alabama would have figured that the first time. But no. Forty years ago, the Sigma Tau Beach Beauties of Woodlawn lit out of Birmingham like the place was on fire, seeking refuge in Vestavia Hills.
White folks took the tax base, the property values, their collective social and intellectual capital. They all but ripped out the plumbing. (p. 66 -67)Memo to Tanner Colby: property values dropped in Birmingham, Alabama to reflect the fair market value of what an individual would part with to purchase a home in the now-majority black city, just as property values are high in the white suburbs of Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook for the same reason.
But Mr. Colby, secession can only work when you have the ability to legally discriminate who may live in your community/neighborhood/city/state/nation and, most importantly, who can attend your schools.
That Birmingham City Schools are perhaps the worst in the nation is entirely due to it being a school system with an almost 100 percent black enrollment; consequently, wherever black families try and have their children educated - as they evacuate the Birmingham City School system, eventually that school system will be overwhelmed as the community watches property value drop and crime rise (yes, there is a correlation to black people creating lower property value in a community because of the high crime rate they bring with them, thus a school system with lower tax revenue to support and black children posting lower test scores/engaging in more discipline problems that drives away white kids).
Black people will always follow white people wherever they may go, because the conditions found in a white community are preferable to the conditions found in a black community (even in a black-run city like Birmingham, the city that was so important to overturning white morality in not only Alabama, not only America, but the entire world).
White people can create thriving cities and school systems, but if black people can't do the same in their communities, then they must move to (and eventually overwhelm) the white communities -- then, they will vote as a monolith when their numbers rise and elect into power black candidates with a black-first agenda.
This is the future for Birmingham's white suburbs.
Secession, of any kind, must be 100 percent racial in origin and motivation.
If not, it will fail.
Back in 1998, then mayor Richard Arrington tried to pass Metro Area Projects Strategy (MAPS), an ambitious metro-wide program that's goal was "Building the Foundations for Our Future" -- which basically was a plan to rob from the white suburbs in Jefferson County to pay for improvements in 74 percent black Birmingham, since the black residents of Birmingham didn't have the financial means to provide tax revenues for such ambitious city-wide programs.
Thus, the need to fleece the productive members of the Jefferson County community, where white people had created the conditions where individual business owners and commercial enterprises could flourish.
As Arrington outlines in his book, "There's Hope for the World: The Memoir of Birmingham, Alabama's First African American Mayor," MAPS was to pay for many economic development projects (all, of course, largely overseen by black elected officials, to help create more public jobs and no-bid contracts for black people and black owned firms respectively):
1. A 200,000 square-foot, $280 million domed public convention and entertainment facility to be connected to the existing Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, $8.7 million for upgrading the existing convention center.
2. $75 million for the Public School Education Capital Fund; $2.5 million for enhancement of technology in the regional library system.
3. $20 million capital fund for police and fire protection needs.
4. $25 million capital fund for regional cultural and historic facitlities
5. $40 million for regional zoo; $10.3 million for development of a 69-mile linear greenway system, including bicycle and pedestrian trails, and $21 million for a multipurpose recreational center.
6. $590 million in temporary retail sales; $590 million in construction retail sales; $114 million per year in convention income; and 1, 239 new permanent jobs. (p. 8)
Arrington mentions in his book that suburban opposition to the MAPS plan was framed as "why would you want to put your tax dollars to work to benefit black Birmingham?" And the opposition was right -- why not have your tax dollars benefit the improvement of your community and city, instead of helping to pay for improvements in a city whose own citizens are incapable of building any wealth that doesn't revolve around the Civil Rights Institute? MAPs would go down in flames at the polls:
In unofficial returns, 96,460 or 57 percent voted NO, mostly in the suburbs, and 71,495 or 43 percent voted YES, largely in Birmingham (Birmingham was 65 percent black and the suburbs were 75 percent white in 1998)Race split the referendum acccording to the Birmingham News analysis. predominantly black polling places and those in the inner city voted heavily for MAPS, while most predominately white polling places rejected the proposals.What's the moral of this story?
Birmingham was split once again along racial lines on an issue important to its well-being. In Mountain Brook, the area's wealthiest community - and one of the nations wealthiest - the vote was 47 percent for and 53 percent against. Turnout in mostly black polling places was about 38 percent, while white voter turnout was about 50 percent. (p. 9-10)
White people can run, they can hide, they build, and they can create, but eventually black people will find them. White people can vote "No" to bills that would force them to share their hard-earned tax dollars with city's (like Birmingham) whose citizens are incapable of producing any wealth to improve their community on their own, but eventually, black people will move into white people's communities and bring with them the very conditions they sought to avoid by creating suburbs in the first place.
The question must be asked in Birmingham: "Why can't black people create communities that attract either outside capital investment or that white people want to move to? Why can't black people, when they politically control a city like Birmingham, not efficiently run either a city government or a school system?
"Why must black people always follow white people?"
John T. Bennett has dared scratch the bedrock of the narrative of Birmingham, post-1963, and found that the waters are contaminated... no longer potable. It's time to dam it up.
The real story of Birmingham, post-1963, is that white people don't owe black people anything -- save the truth.
And the truth is this: Black people are fleeing from the conditions black elected officials, black hired elected officials, black appointed officials, and ordinary black people have created in the city of Birmingham.
And they seek refuge in the communities that white people created.
"Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I'm free at last!! Now where are all the white people at?"