The new HBO show Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas is insightful and timely. I adore John Oliver and this Daily Show alum does similar activist reporting with both humor and yes facts. The episode this week was about Food Problems and Homeless issues. And this was one of the things that I brought up when I was accused as being a racist. And when I promptly walked out as I have learned you cannot have this discussion here so just leave.
I was in the "acclaimed" Magnet High School up the street from my home Friday and this class walked in, I walked around took attendance and that was the extent of my communication with the kids. When done I went back to writing an essay and the group of black boys clustered in a corner were playing with naked dolls and playing loud music. The kids actually asked them to stop and one girl got up and took the dolls and started to throw them in the trash and instead handed them to me. I was not sure what for and why but I just put them aside and threw them out myself later as it was nothing I cared to get into. The boys then shouted out I was a Racist and once again that card was tossed for what reason? A young very mature looking Black girl promptly swiveled in her seat faced me and starts to shake her head and as if to warn me goes: "Don't just don't you are clearly not a racist, just let this go." I responded: "Funny the other day I was told to take nothing personal here as that is what they do here just throw stuff against the wall to see if you take the bait. I know it is not personal as how could it be? You don't know my name I only spoke to for attendance purposes and have not opened my mouth so while I yes I am personally offended there is nothing I can do so I won't." She and I smiled at each other and I watched the one kid (the alpha of all these groups) who did what always happens in these largely black cohorts do in "magnet" schools, take all the white board markers and collect them at his desk. Again for what purpose I don't know and I asked him if he needed them and he said yes, so I simply took attendance and walked off. But after the racist comment I went and collected them and asked if he would still needing them and I promptly moved them out of reach. He was also the last student to leave the room remaining after all the kids left. I simply straightened the room put the books up he had stacked again for no reason on the desk and floor around him returned them to the bookcase and said thanks, have a good weekend. This was a bait issue I had seen before from a very similar young man from another troubled school (where is the feeder to this magnet) who patrolled the classroom, kept erasing the white board one line at a time with his finger. I just kept re-writing what he had erased and ignored him until I decided to just erase the lot leaving nothing on the board as I thought this could go on for the entire period so why bother.
If you think there is a race problem here, come here and you will find yourself asking the same question. Contradict or criticize me as much as you want but until you have walked into these waste bins called schools you are in no position in which to do so as that is where you really see this in full action.
Again, when confronted here I go into an apology rambling excuse making confusing passive aggressive tone as it makes it easier and the receiver of this ends up not wanting any further contact so it ends that immediately. This is not how to live here it is insane and I live in constant fear which again my black neighbor informed me that I should get a gun. Sure. Again I am the racist or I am simply commenting on race and the differences in how we perceive a problem and in turn attempt to find a solution. The 22 year old boys with the "beef" at Opry Mills could have tried that way before whipping out a gun and killing the one whom you had a "beef."
What we have here is what Wyatt discussed in his show a constant need to exploit and in turn justify how we treat immigrant and migrant labor, from indentured servitude to slavery to H1B1 visas, to undocumented workers we have used people as capital in which to underpay, mistreat and build huge industry as a result. We had a brief moment when finally a revolt happened, a war happened and laws were changed and unions formed that protected the American Labor and built the American economy. The rise of the middle and working class across races and gender began to change and where are we today? Well apparently back to 1950. America is great again!
The issues about how we get our food from farm to table is done in ways that are cheap and in turn exploitative. We fail to pay or treat the laborers who pick the food to those who prepare and handle it. You wonder why there is a massive E-Coli problem with Romaine? This is not some worker shitting in the field failing to wash his hands? This is an issue that in normal Administrations the CDC and FDA would be engaged and involved in. But this not normal times.
And this applies to the building boom and the use of largely immigrant and or undocumented labor. Here in the "it" city where there is not a building being built like matchsticks thrown on a bonfire we have serious OSHA regulations and permit violations happening like crazy. The lack of inspections is due to the amount of projects permitted that they cannot keep up and the other is those simply being done without permits and rarely if ever cited until after construction is completed.
The USA Today which at times does manage to do a job that is even Pulitzer worthy did this article on the construction boon here in Nashville and the amount of deaths and injuries that have resulted and many not even recorded. Shocking, I know! Not really. I have written many times before on the subject and this was before I found out I was racist. To that I say - good to know! But again this is also part of the resentment and anger directed to America's new Immigrants and those who are seen as taking one's jobs and place on the rung that one tenuously clings to.
With this boon will come more line item tax breaks called 777 which explains why the schools are underfunded which is one problem among many here with the current city budget from this supposed "it" city. And this is from a blog I found dated 2015.
Nashville will return $6,027,900.00 in education funds to the Metro government to give to corporations. That’s an increase of $791,900.00 over last year’s budget and almost three times the amount in 2007-08 ($2,346,700) as the incentives have steadily and dramatically grown.
The amount of property owned by REIT and Foreign investors is why there is not that much revenue in the City as believed. The reality is that with one arrival of a shell corporation with promise of jobs - AllianceBernstein - is the collapse of another - Gibson Guitars. The State did an audit and found that many of these tax breaks did not in fact support the jobs as well as other legal requirements to generate said cut. And I suspect that in the case of the housing growth including those multi family units received waivers as the occupancy rates have not held solid and in the case of the single family units that the taxes would pop an already full balloon as they are already extended to the max with debt to income ratio.
And there is the most regressive tax system in the nation. And that tax mentioned in the Atlantic article I have linked (The Hall tax) is being phased out as well. So come on down, if you are rich. I do laugh even a magazine subscription is taxed here. Again that may explain why people don't read here. Hence the transit fail as even .05 is too much for a service that is needed but that the plan did not serve. Access and availability on this was a zero which is usually a 50/50 here.
We have another election that is for the Mayor of Nashville that will complete the term of the Slattern and while I have no opinion on him I thought it was balls to the wall to come out on the budget and actually tell the truth about the state of the city of it. This city is not run well and that was proven with the bizarre Slatterns use of Security detail, overseas trips and the like that led to massive overtime. The City Council is permitting one building over another without any input or clear engagement with the neighborhoods, the transit, or more importantly the Building Department. The Police too are under the gun so to speak about their own monopoly of overtime for security at sporting or other events that any private firm could manage at a much lower cost. But again as the wages of municipal employees went the way of the budget this is how people manage to survive in the "it" city. You cannot live here with the wages and they have made social services nearly impossible to access, the State legislature goes out of its way to overrule any bill or measure that the City Council passes - from affordable housing to minimum wage - as a way of not favoring Nashville at the expense of the other cities. Yes that is the kind of mentality here, emphasis on mental.
The lack of education here shows and it will not change. Like race this is an issue that requires an intelligence and depth that requires all parties of all colors to come to the table. Then at that table you need to add the voices of all those who fill in the spectrum of the rainbow. It will not happen. The reality is that regardless of how we feel and what we say - like likes like. We are not socially programmed to see how we can find similarities in the differences. I never thought of it until I moved here. Now I see it in ways that again tell me is not normal nor healthy for me. I used to say that it was a black or white issue, not actually in skin but a metaphor for good or not. I was told that I cannot think that or say that and that was from a White woman and I knew then the minute you start to get into the minutiae you will never find balance and that is where we are today, caught up in the small stuff. How easy that makes you to never see the forest for the trees.