Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Will You Be Their Neighbor?

I have long stated that I have found the state of the schools here in Nashville surreal.  There is a great explaining how they were devised and configured to be largely these behemoths of segregated piles of shit but there are major cultural issues at play here that enable and allow it to continue. And again that is money.  Money is the ruling class element and in turn it defines you and the access and availability that enables you to retain your status and in turn your ability to move up the ladder of that unicorn of meritocracy.

Now in Seattle until the Gates and then the Bezos' decided to bestow their fortunes upon the area, it was a working class town.  The issue of busing raised its head and it lead to the closing of schools and of course racial dynamics that never truly eradicated as it was in other cities where busing was mandated.  Seattle is by far more passive aggressive and they worked around it for decades by establishing the most prominent school academically in the most "urban" of areas and for years Garfield defined what it meant to be a school within a school.  A school in largely a black neighborhood, with high achieving academic programs and students who clamored to get in to the halls once in were clearly in classes with cohorts who looked and spoke just like them.  The colors may vary but the ultimate character and quality remained consistent and again divided by the ability to access what one needed to make those programs available.  It is a fairly common practice and in Nashville it is the Magnet schools with lottery's test scores and other games of chance that determine who gets in or more importantly stays out.   They are a world of change here regardless as they almost all have on thing in common - poverty.   The middle class that cannot afford private strive to get their kids into MLK or Hume Fogg and that is the extent of diversity in these schools. In Seattle it was diverse and anyone wealthy went to Lakeside and the rest moved to Bellevue.  The working class in Seattle have a unique cut to their cloth as they embrace the kinte but it is made of  100% organic cotton

So taking myself out of Seattle where I saw its flaws and its good points too moving to Nashville truly shook me to the core when I walked into these schools and it is disgraceful at best horrific at worst.  There are distinct cultural issues at play here and I have little understanding nor actual interest into trying to overcome them.  This is poverty and race in a mutual co-existence that defies understanding and frankly it took me a long while to enable myself to accept that as a truth.  It is all across our country now and it is demonstrated by the outlandish political divides by party affiliation, by sexual mores and conduct, by education and by money.  But race is always there to ensure that whatever line is drawn it is drawn with race right down the middle.  And we're off!

So I was rather surprised and not that Seattle was a testing ground for the study on where one lives determines one fate and by simple lines along a map that literally crossing the street could ultimately decide what the long term economic prospects would be for you and your family.    Knowing Seattle as I do I found none of the neighborhoods all that shocking as many borderline some of the more prominent and well established areas where wealth resided (yes Broadview Thompson is near the Highlands where the Nordstrom family resided and yet the K-8 school is not unlike the dumps I see here so go figure) to Queen Anne where it for years depending on which side let people know you were old family residents or just renters.   Seattle has changed in the last decade and I have lived all over with Madrona the home of myself and Kurt Cobain with one of the McCaw's of the Cellular new money across the road in a new lakeside property.  Down the road the old money of the walled in enclave lived where now Howard Stern resides.. once living literally across the park in his custom hone but alas notoriety is not what one wants when it is not yours.

And Seattle, unlike Nashville, does not have the plethora of public housing that literally envelops the city core of Nashville.  The city here is ringed by ostensibly housing that defines dumps and generation after generation have lived there while the elite escaped to just outside of said establishments.   There were poorer housing units often subsidized by section 8 housing located in Seattle again adjacent to the more established areas but I never experienced or saw what I did here. And since I have left the most significant of those Alder Terrace has been long torn down and purchased by Paul Allen and remade into "affordable mixed unit housing"

Seattle red lined and they acted as if that was not anything but an oversight or error that time would self correct.  Yeah sure.  But when I moved to the last area of mixed "unofficial" housing soon became gentrified as the Amazon flowed into all tributaries.  But for most of my growing up years I knew the "hood" the "working class" the "middle class" and the "rich" areas and other than the gated Madison Park community they were accessible and available by public transit.  And that alone is why Nashville is against public transit they are sure that was once not accessible nor available would be.  That way they don't have to red line and overtly discriminate on housing it just enabled it to be as it is - heavily segregated and divided.

But the study is showing that is more than busing a kid across town to a school hours from his/her home and that living and working and going to school in your neighborhood enables you to meet those different, to share and learn and more importantly establish a base network in which allows you to be seen from a larger sphere.  And that too builds esteem, builds positive vibrations that carry out with you, you know that fundamental self esteem thing that Mr. Rogers tried to instill. Opening one's hearts and minds is one thing, doors however truly make a difference.

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