Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

I’m Back!

May 21, 2006

ricland Finally settled here in Nashville. You'll recall, I was making a tour of the South when I discovered what a great place Nashville is. Since then I've done all the things (twisted all the arms) I needed to do to get to stay here for a while. Mission Accomplished — I'm now writing from my cool 2 bedroom apartment. Spent $2000 to get everything I needed, including used furniture from the local Salvation Army Thrift. Phone goes on next week. I'm ready as schoolboy with a pocketful of condoms.

Anybody see Condi Rice on "Meet the Press" this morning? She's still looking good in my opinon. One question, though: when does it all come apart? When does she start looking like an old woman? I remember when it happened to Cher. There she was running around half-naked and then WHAM! she turned into an old hag just like that.

Of course in the old days it didn't matter. Your hubby would stay married to you "till death do ye part." No more. And why should he? I mean, once the kids are out of the nest, why on earth would any red-blooded male want to stay married to the woman he married 30 years earlier?

Why …?

Speaking of romance and Condi — who in the hell is this woman plowing with? Who is the guy? What's his ethnic background? What's his job? Oh, yeah, she's kicking boots with somebody. WAIT! I just had a terrible thought? Maybe Condi is GAY!!!

Oh, my God! It never occurred to me before, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense.

It would have to be a woman, right? No guy could be that cool, that controllable. The moment they had an argument, there he'd go shopping the tabloids for a six-figure check to blab it all. Also, Condi has never been linked to anyone — ANYONE!

So Condi Rice is a lesbo…

Who'd have thunk …

ricland

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Let’s NOT Support Black Strippers

May 2, 2006

Were you or anyone you know facing the charges the Duke Lacrosse players are facing you'd surely want the jury to know what a stripper's job description is. Most of us are aware that strippers are women whose "performance" includes activities such as "lap dances" — an exercise where the dancer sits in the customer's lap and sexually stimulates him by grinding her buttocks onto his penis.

Basically, this is the sex act with clothes on. This exceedingly rough activity also explains the so-called signs of vaginal and anal sex listed in the "victim's" medical examination. Performing lap dances on 40 young men should be expected to scratch up a girl pretty bad. And this point must come out in trial if the defendants are to receive a fair trial. The victim or some other stripper must be made to demonstrate what a lap dance is. The jury must see what a lap dance is.

But let's take this a step further. Let's talk about something else strippers do in private bachelor parties. Many strippers suppliment their fees by performing blow jobs. This fact should not astound you. To say that after performing simulated sex on tens of men a stripper would draw the line at blow-jobs, is to say something that simply isn't the norm — strippers and blow jobs go hand and hand.

"But this stripper had ethics!"

Please … if she had ethics she wouldn't be stripper.

We know that somewhere in the time-line the two strippers spent a significant amount of time in the "bathroom." As HumanityCritic will attest, the bathroom is the strippers office, the place she earns her real money — sucking cock.

And yet, even I agree that if the victim was raped — forced to do something she didn't want to — then the charge of rape is valid. But the problem here is that barring any eye-witnesses coming forth, none of the circumstantial evidence should warrant convicting the accused. This is to say, that because of the nature of her work,we would be remiss in affording this woman the credibility we would your mother, sister or wife (assuming your mother, sister or wife doesn't give strangers blow- jobs).

In other words, it makes no sense to use the same standard with sex industry workers we use for women not in the sex industry. Lap dances and blow-jobs are acts of prostitution, no matter the terms "strippers" use to distinguish themselves from common whores — "Exotic dancer," "dancer," "stripper."

The victim isn't Miss Goody Two-shoes. She is, as the Jerry Springer Food Stamp Mamas would put it, "A Ho."

ricland

A Self-Contained Black Town

May 1, 2006

The area surrounding Tennessee State University (TSU) here in Nashville is for all intents and purposes a self-contained black town. The wonder is that it was never incorporated as such. The black elite here should have done this; it would have given the place an official identity. As it stands, it's simply called "north" Nashville.

A better name would be Hadleytown, or Hadley, here's why: As I understand it, some 3000 acres of this area once made up the Hadley Plantation. In fact, the first "Negro Park" in the nation (1912) was 34 acres cut from the Hadley farm. Also, the 430 acres that make-up the TSU campus was cut from the Hadley farm as well. Add to this the legend of how Hadleys were kind-hearted slaver-owners, and how the son, a doctor like his father, invited Frederick Douglass to speak to the former slaves  from the porch of the plantation mansion, an act still remembered and celebrated here in North (black) Nashville.

On the topic of slavery, there are many descendants of Hadley slaves still to be found here in North Nashville. The "Swetts" for example, own several businesses.  On Charlotte Avenue, only a few blocks from where their ancestors toiled as slaves on the Hadley plantation, stands "Swett Plaza" a mini-mall containing several prospering businesses; and then across the street from the plaza is the Swett Restaurant, a Pickadilly-sized restaurant, nationally known with autographed photos on its walls of America's Who's Who? both white (and black ironically enough, employs white women as servers).

But the success of this part of Nashville may be explained by blacks where weren't slaves. According to "African-American History in Nashville, Tennessee," Lovett, U.of.Ark, a large part of the black population of antebellum Nashville was free. This came by way of the settling and development of early Nashville happened. Blacks lived and socialized in the Nashvile area with the Indians in the late 1700s before the frontierstown, Fort Nashboro was founded. Then once Nashboro began to thrive, more blacks poured in from North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Many, of course, were slaves brought in by their owners, but a great number were free blacks and escaped slaves.

However they got to Nashville the relationship between them and whites was markedly different than elsewhere. The slave tradition was not as entrenched in Tennessee as it was in the Deep South. Having only been founded in 1790, Tennesee and Nashville in particular had no real traditions to speak of until at least a generation later around 1815, a mere 50 bears before slavery would come to a screeching halt.

In fact, a good example of how different things were in Nashville is how its black citizens responded to segregation on public transportation in 1906. Rather than meekly go along with the 1906 policy, they founded their own public transportation company — The Union Transportation Company.

Anyway, the point here, no matter how specially made, is that the Nashville black community has a history of doing things different and this is no doubt the reason why it, based on my travels, has one of the few remaining "healthy" black communities in the nation.

It also may explain why Tennessee State University seems are far better school than most HBUCs. For example, I'm writing this from the TSU library. I walked in two hours ago at which time several tables around me had students in deep study sitting there. These students are still in deep study. Never saw anything like that at Morris Brown. These kids aren't playing; they're serious.

ricland 

Tennessee State University — WOW!

April 28, 2006

I'm posting this from the student center of Tennessee State University, the suburban campus, and, boy, am I impressed.
Finally, a black university that GET'S IT!

This place is intriguing. The campus, huge — more than 435 acres, nestled in the heart of the black community. The setting, faithfully collegiate, almost as ive league as  those colleges 250 year older– well-manicured lawns, rolling hills, campus buildings as far as the eye can see. And then with the many old and proud buildings,  modern cement, glass, and steel ones.

First impression, this school must spend its money exceedingly well. The student union, for example, is far more elegant and architecturally impressive than the one I raved about at the University of Cincinnati.

This place rocks. The ceilings are 50 feet high, and then a network of elevated walkways run parallel to the walls then bisect the center of this huge airport sized facility. These walkways are works of art and surely cost plenty to construct. They could have been left out and no one would have noticed anything amiss but there here at this land grant college which means nobody lined their pockets on the construction deal, nobody shortchanged the students.

And then there's the columns and brick facades. What a thoughtfull person the architect was. In a place like this several thousand people could converge and none would feel crowded. At every turn there's an alcove or seating area where individuals or small groups can chat privately, or study, or blog without feeling crowded.

Downstairs there appears to be a food court. I looked over tier I'm on and saw students sitting at tables eating. Now I can hear the faint hum of their talk. And this is architecturally interesting too. What I'm trying to say is that this facility "breathes." Perhaps it's the incredibly high ceilings, or the vast open spaces, whatever it is the sound of the many voices here tonight is a soft hum, soft enough so that it's still possible to study here no matter the crowd.

But there's more about TSU that needs telling. TSU is a land grant college like all the other land grant colleges, but so far it seems so dramatically different from AUC and Howard I'm gripped with desire to know how this came to be. For example, there are white people everywhere; even, apparently, a goodly number of white students and I know there students because I saw them going into the dorm.

This school also seems to have a respected academic program. Of course, Meharry Medical school is here,  but besides this, according to its website it confers 24 different bachelor degrees, a dozen or so graduate degrees, several PhD degree programs, and, most interestingly, has a nationally recognized research center.

Quick observations about the students I've seen:

No different from other land grant colleges: the girls dress like college students everywhere (absolutely no dresses) and the guys all dress like thugs — white t-shirts, gold chains, baggy jeans. On the whole, however, they at first blush seem lots more civilized than what I encountered at AUC; that's to say, I've yet to hear any "nigga" this, and "nigga" that.

And the women …

Boys, this place has got to be a guy's delight. These slender, apple-hard butt beauties keep cruising by, all in skin-tight jeans, and big, inquiring eyes. They're cruising for guys, man! and what a perfect setting to do it in. Oh, to be 20 years younger!

Ok, Fisk University is right down the street but I don't think I'm even going to bother. Oh, by the way, the black community that surrounds this campus is the kind of black community I've been writing about all along — the way things were 25 years ago in Atlanta, Washington, DC, Harlem. Had dinner in a great soul food restaurant — a black owned soul food restaurant where the steam table was set up just there way it is at Pickadilly's Cafetaria, a place called "Harpers."

And the street life in the hood was in full bloom, the kind of activity that made you want to park your car and dive in.

Anyway, I'll be spending the whole weekend here. This a hotel right down the street and I've moved from the hotel on the other side of town I was staying in.

Did I say there were some juke joints in the area that look like a lot of fun? I'll check them out and report back tomorrow.

Stay tuned …

ricland

Posting from Tennessee State University

April 28, 2006

Tennessee State University in Nashville is a land grant HBUC, but at first glance it's unlike any black college I've yet encountered. It's Friday morning. Most of the faculty I've seen so far are white. Very different atmosphere here then say AUC or Howard; less of the black thing going on. Of course, it's too easy to give a detailed description, have only been here a few hours, but from what I've seen so far, I'm intrigued.

Anyone familar with this place?

What's going on here, I'd like to know.

Atlanta: Don’t go there

April 28, 2006

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This is my last in a series of posts about America's Black Mecca, Atlanta.

Don't go there.

Allow me to explain…

The Atlanta of urban legend exists no longer. Today, the great city is now gone. There is nothing left in Atlanta but the shadow of what once was.

First, no one who can afford to live elsewhere lives in Fulton County. Compare this to how things were 20 years ago when Maynard Jackson himself lived on North Ave and Peachtree and you go see him sitting on his balcony on cool summer nights. Compare this to how when the Paschal Brothers Hotel on Martin Luther King (then Hunter Street) was the gathering place for everyone who was anyone in Black Society. This neat mid-size hotel had a delightfully appointed bar, huge parking lot, and a wonderful soulfood restaurant where it was reputed the best fried chicken in Atlanta was served.

Once while eating a chicken dinner there Julian Bond slid into the booth in front of mine and ordered a chicken dinner for himself. He nodded and asked me how was the chicken. I mumbled something about it being as good as always.

It was that kind of place.

All year long black organizations like "The Black Social Workers," " Black Mayors Association," etc., held their conventions there. The Paschal Brothers hotel was located in the heart of the black community, walking distance from everything, and if you were poor, like I was, you could put on a suit, walk there, and sit in the lobby for hours watching the rich and famous walk through.

Today the Paschal Brothers hotel is long gone; black folk of means wouldn't be caught dead in the area. Today the same black conventions are now held in the Marriot and Hilton where the room rates are $175 a night instead of the $25 a night charged by the Paschal Brother's Hotel 25 years ago.

And as I wrote earlier, 25 years ago the neighborhood surrounding the Hotel was bristling with black businesses. This, in my opinion, is the Atlanta of legend. And it extended far beyond this one neighborhood. For example, Campbellton Road circa 1985 still takes my breath away. Never had I see so glorious collection of black bars as I saw the day I first drove onto Campbellton Road. The dazzling lights of these fantastic places seem to go on forever. And these where your typical fare of low-rent juke joints; these were dazzling places like Ciscos where the bartenders wore tuxedos and everyone came in suits and sharp dresses.

This was also a time when the "house party" ruled and on a Friday or Saturday night it seemed there were a million house parties going on, and, even more amazing, all opened to the public, or so it seemed. Back then(when everyone still lived in the city proper) these house parties were held in then mostly new housing complexes, lavish places where most of the refugees from New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Philly, lived which explains why their parties were generally open to the public — the transplants wanted to meet new people. The women were looking for husbands, the men, looking for new conquests, or maybe a new girlfriend to move in with.

Most of these people in time bought houses outside of the city proper. In fact, in time, everyone abandoned the Fulton County. The went to Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, East Point, some few even went back to Detroit, Baltimore, and New York.

Then the neighborhoods began to disintegrate. I would return to Atlanta about every five years and would began to see this. Businesses on Martin Luther King closed up, including the Paschal Brothers Hotel. The old people who had been fixtures in these black neighborhoods began dying off, and then, new-comers to the City simply stopped coming to them, most probably because no remained to tell them about these places.

Twenty-five years ago you could walk down Martin Luther King between the AU Center and Ashby Street (now Lowery) and feel the history and tradition. On a nice day you wanted to find a seat in the shade somewhere so you could watch the fantastic ebb and flow of the street life for hours. Just listening to the voices was a history listen in itself. A few yards a way a girl from Alabama was laughing a laugh straight from the cotton fields. Not far from her a jack-leg preacher was warning everyone how they would soon be going to hell if they didn't repent now. Then at the corner a gaggle of black conventioneers were trying to decide which restaurant they wanted to go to. Across the street a pimp was eyeing two Spelman cheer-leaders with a practiced eye.

Little Africa … let no place in America … gone ….

Atlanta no longer has a sense of community. The commonality blacks used to feel for each other is gone. Today it is a Southern city without soul — and worse: WITHOUT GRACE.

Finally it is a town deep in the throes of car culture. Years ago it was a great walking town. You'd park your car and walk and more often than not have a great adventure before you got to your destination. No more. Today, no one walks anywhere, for there is nothing to really see. The black community is gone … at least in spirit.

Gone … gone … gone with the wind.

Atlanta: Here’s how we Lost it

April 28, 2006

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The gray-haired men standing next to Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin is a crook, and evidence of his criminality is is Atlanta's famed Butler Street YMCA — one of the oldest black YMCA's in the country. This YMCA is steeped in history. It is said Martin Luther King, Andy Young, and Ralph Abernathy planned their first protest actions here. But for the past 20 years something foul has been happening in it you should know about, something not unlike the pattern of greed and stupidity that has come to characterize Atlanta's black high and mighty.

This YMCA with its many dormitory rooms is not fit for human habitation and that's because instead of using money given to it for much needed renovation, the administrators– under the direction of the gray-haired man pictured above — have lined their pockets with the loot. This explains why none but the virtual homeless rent rooms in the Butler Street YMCA.

But you wouldn't know this by the huge sign outside that proclaims "Newly Renovated Rooms!" You also wouldn't know this by the beautifully renovated lobby. In fact, the only way you see evidence of the thievery is by renting a room and going upstairs, which I did 10 years ago, right after the supposed "Newly renovated Rooms" sign went up.

But this sign was put up to deceive. When I checked in I was appalled. I'd seen squalor before, but never here in America: filthy windows — windows so caked with grime and broken it was clean they hadn't been cleaned or repaired in decades — windows with cloth stuck in the cracks to keep out the cold, paint peeling so badly, you could pull huge chips off the wall, beat-up furniture that surely had been there since the place opened in the 1920s, a bathroom with all the toilets broke, and in the shower, just one functioning shower head. And then the piece de resistance — cheap, "Heat Devil" heaters to heat the rooms because the central heating system had given-out way back in the 1960s.

All this, and each morning the executive director, an incredibly well-dressed little man who avoided the residents like the plague, would pull up in his shiny black Mercedes Benz and rush to his office as quickly as he could.

This is the disconnect I speak of when I talk about how we foul-up shit once we get to the top. How does this man and his partners in crime sleep at night? How do they go to church and pray without being struck by lightening? Some of the greatest names in recent black history came to Atlanta penniless but found refuge at the Butler Street YMCA.

Back then it provided clean rooms, a wholesome Christian environment, any number of self-help courses and programs in its community rooms, a gym and swimming pool for sport and fellowship. But today the rooms are unfit for human habitation, the gym and pool have long been out of commission, and no educational or social activity has been held in the community rooms in years. In fact, the only reason the place still exists is to collect government rent checks from the mental cases and homeless men who live there.

This, I submit to you, is a reality of Atlanta rarely spoken of, the reality of how we can be depended upon to foul-up once achieving a certain level of success.

How many young men wound up failing in Atlanta because they couldn't find a affordable place to live? How many young men would have not gone to strip bars and crack dens for fellowship had the Butler Street YMCA been run the way every other YMCA in the country was run?

And meanwhile, the thief pictured above hobnobs with luminaries like Mayor Shirley Franklin — actually invites them into the downstairs renovated part of the building to wine and dine her. Also, right around the corner, the famed black newspaper "The Atlanta Voice" keeps reminding its readers of the great job it's doing no matter the appalling black-on-black crime going on right under their noses at the Butler Street YMCA.

The above is one example of how we lost Atlanta, but there are many others. As with Bill Campbell, Morris Brown president, Deloris Cross, the executirve director of the Butler Street YMCA, convicted felon, forger, weed-head ex-State Senator Ralph Abernathy III, medium_abernathy.jpgand numerous other high-level blacks entrusted with large sums of money, power, and influence, time and again they have succumbed to the kind of greed and thiervery that hurts the chances of so many other black folk. Time and again they pull us back into the mud.

ricland

04/23/2006

Atlanta: How did it get so Awful…?

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I'm writing this from the University of Cincinnati Student Center. This cleverly-appointed facility is an airport terminal sized, perfectly air-conditioned place; and, since it's the end of the school year, virtually depopulated.

Sunlight pours across the thickly carpeted floors from block-long plate-glass windows. The Center has free Wi-Fi, electric outlets everywhere, plush leather lounge chairs all around, sparkling clean restrooms downstairs, three different levels for your relaxing pleasure, an eclectic food court during the week, microwave ovens here and there, a small but well-stocked convenience store, and several sprawling balconies each with a plentiful array of wrought iron furniture. All this and it's walking distance to downtown Cincinnati too. All of this and the campus and all its amenities are freely open to the public.

I spent the night here writing most of this piece. Somewhere around 3;00 am I went to sleep on one of the plush couches and did not wake up until 8:00 am at which time I went to the restroom washed, and changed clothes.

Nobody bothered me. Nobody even looked at me funny.

Compare this to the lock-down status to be found at the Atlanta University Complexe, Georgia State, and Georgia Tech or just about any public place in Atlanta.

Oh, and I should mention that the same set-up described above at the University of Cincinnati Student Center is also to be found at Cincinnati State, the two-year college a little further out from the heart of Cincinnati, to include showers, a Swedish steam room, a gym and weight room, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, all, as with the facilities at the University of Cincinnati are freely open to everyone student and non-student alike.

Nothing like this exists in Atlanta anymore, not even close. Even Georgia State, which has a downtown campus, is a dull, tightly restricted, utilitarian government issue archipelago compared to the college campuses to be found in Cincinnati (and many other mid-size towns): campus security guards everywhere, crummy restrooms, beat-up computers, and a creeping sense of claustrophobia wherever you go. In fact, these same adjectives describe much of what Atlanta has become: claustrophobic, crummy restrooms, security guards and cops at every turn, a city with the personality of a subway car full of people who'd all rather be somewhere else, people who dare not look at each other.

And yet Atlanta was once great metropolis — the greatest of metropolises! Twenty-five years ago it was called the Queen City of the South, the place to go if you were young, black, and ambitious … the black capital of the United States, Amrica's Black Mecca — the world's Black Mecca! Today, however, Atlanta is a bloated, overpopulated, outrageously expensive, a sprawling, spewing, sputtering, traffic-strangling mess.

Forget about the town Maynard Jackson and and Andrew Young put on the map. Forget about the Atlanta Braves. Forget about Cynthia Mckinney's shenanigans. Forget about Spelman, Morris Brown, Morehouse. Forget about Sweet Auburn Street. Forget about the swell-looking black television news anchors to be seen on every local network. Forget about all those stories of people who went to Atlanta with $50 and 15 years ago are driving Lexuses and pulling down six-figure salaries. Forget about all of that. Today the only real success stories in Atlanta — the only people really kicking butt– are the foreigners, the people who know nothing and care less about Atlanta's much ballyhooed black history, the people who slowly but surely are wresting control of our black Mecca from us. The immigrants both legal and illegal.

That's right: Atlanta is no longer a shining example of black success. It is no longer a testament to how far we can go if given a chance. It is, in fact, a testament to how we hit a break wall every time we reach a certain plateau, how we seem to live under some intractable curse that dictates black folk can only climb so far in life before they burst like a raisin in the sun.

A good example of this is the Morris Brown financial scandal. For more than 120 years Morris Brown managed to produce black college graduates and stay financially solvent. It had a competitive football team, a respected under-graduate and graduate programs, a staff of over 140 PhDs. Then six years ago in one fell swoop Morris Brown was no more. It lost its accreditation, its students, and in a blink of an eye its faculty was without tenure or jobs.

Many including the federal government point to Dr. Deloris Cross, the black women educator/administrator from Chicago hired as president of Morris Brown eight years ago. But even if the woman was an outright crook, which she is, it's the Morris Brown board of trustees who did nothing while she was running her scams, rifling bank accounts, obliterating the school's credit rating that made her thievery possible — how could they have been so negligent? The women was sucking every nickle from Morris Brown she could find while the Morris Brown Board of Trustees did nothing, save issue glowing reports about what a sublime choice for president she was and attend the many parties and functions she threw.

We should now expect the once great Morris Brown will be torn down and its assets and incredibly valuable land — land the black community has owned for over 100 years — will be carved up and sold to the highest bidders who will in all likelihood be new-age land barons like Nare Patel of whom I write of below.

This incident goes back to the point I made earlier about Atlanta black folks reaching a certain level of success before self-combusting. That is, unlike other ethnic groups it would seem once we reach the big time, rather than translate that success into meaningful forces of change, we wind-up strangling ourselves with it.

Former Mayor Bill Campbell's criminal prosecution is a good example of this. With the possible exception of Maynard Jackson, Campbell was the most successful mayor Atlanta ever had. With this background he should have gone on to even greater success — a governorship, cabinet post, whatever. Instead, he took to stealing, stealing amounts in aggregate that won't even add up to half what his legal fees and fines will soon be.

Of course he's guilty as hell no matter that now all the charges against him have waddled down to income tax evasion. Ten members of his administration are either facing charges or in jail and he didn't know anything about their thievery? Give me a break. But then read the Atlanta newspapers going back 20 years and you'll find incident after incident of high-level black folk running afoul of the law.

More recently, the Fulton County Sheriff's chief of staff was convicted of stealing $600,000 of federal funds he received while the founder and owner of a jive Welfare recipient training company. What did he do with the loot? the Negro simply squandered the $600,000 it which explains why he was still working (at 66 years of age) a few years after he stole it. And the Welfare recipients he was supposed to teach job skills too? most no doubt still on welfare.

And before I give the impression this is only happening at high levels consider this: Go to any Pickadilly's in Atlanta and no matter how many workers are black the cashiers will invariably be Asian or Latino. A coincidence? Yeah, right.

Again, the theme here is how we as a people hit a brick wall once we achieve a certain level of success, the results of which are to be most tragically seen in Atlanta, a town that 25 years ago held such spectacular promise for black folks, promise we, as the old folks say, just frittered away.

Atlanta is no longer a town we can call ours. No longer a town we can point to with pride and that's because it is no longer ours. That's right, we lost it (if we ever had it at all)and what better example of this do we have but the spectacular success stories Latinos and other ethnic groups now enjoy in Atlanta? Mind you, a black mayor, chief of police, city council do not do not advancement for the race makes if a generation later economic success has not trickled down to the masses; that is, the same black presence is not achived across the business world. The black mayor, chief of police, city council, etc., open the door, but if no one walks through that door what do we have but with little more than what we had 140 years ago — a few black faces in the Big House?

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Why, for example, aren't there any black-owned strip malls in Atlanta? How is it explained that in certain parts of the Atlanta area (Gwinnett County) entire zip codes are owned and run by former illegal Mexican immigrants? I remember these people from 20 years ago. They arrived on Greyhound buses or stuffed in darkened windowed vans like sardines. They spoke no English, took jobs like digging ditches or making-up hotel beds, yet, today own strip malls, fast food chains, sprawling flea markets, clothing stores, five star restaurants, miles of prime commercial real estate, their own mortgage companies, insurance companies, banks — and none ever received a SBA loan or gone through one of those tedious SBA training programs.

Commercial bankers jump at the chance to give them loans. They drive better cars than most black Atlantans do. They've carved out their own neighborhoods where the streets are wonderfully clean and the crime non-existent. Their businesses are on every page of the Yellow pages. And this is just the Mexicans. The Asians and Indians are operating at a level few black businessman ever reach.

This latter fact became clear to me when I discovered the massive office building I was working in is owned by a guy named Jare Patel, an East Indian who started-out a minimum wage 7-11 clerk 25 years ago. The building is surely worth several million dollars.

Bottom line, if you go to Atlanta expecting highly visible small-to-midsize black businesses you will be tragically disappointed. Beyond the Bar-b-que joints, barber shops and beauty saloons, there are very few to be seen indeed– far fewer than any other ethnic group.

It should also be noted that black soul food restaurants are all but gone from Atlanta. Oh, there are plenty of soul food restaurants to be found here, but they're all run by Koreans. For example, the only soul food restaurant chain in the Atlanta area is Donnies, a place where a baked chicken dinner with complementary corn bread and ice tea can be had for $5.50. Compare this to what you pay for the same thing at famed 'Satterwhite's' one of the few remaining black-owned soul food restaurants — $8.95, and that with no complimentary ice tea.

Speaking of black restaurants, during my trip the best soul food I had was at little roadside bar-b-que joint called "The Boss." The only thing is the price was $9.95 and the place was a dump. Apparently the place has been there for decades, no matter, the owners still don't get it. They still haven't figured it out yet. They'll remain a road-side bar-b-que joint instead of opening other places and at some point franchising because they've hit the wall I mention above — the inability to progress from small business to mid-size business jinx.

This said, let me share with you something, perhaps, even more depressing about Atlanta, its quality of life. It sucks. Mind you, 25 years ago, this wasn't the case at all. Twenty-five years ago Atlanta was a glorious place to live and work in. But 25 years ago, Atlanta had half it's current population. Also, 25 years ago Black streets like MILK, Auburn Street, Campbell ton Road, were streets with wall to wall black businesses. MILK between Morris Brown and Ashy Street (Rev. Lowery) a distance of less than two blocks, had no less than six soul food restaurants, seven, if you include Paschal's Hotel restaurant (where I worked as a front desk clerk). There was also a black-owned pharmacy, real estate-insurance companies, the famed black-owned Paschal's hotel, and numerous other black owned establishments.

All gone now.

You'll also be none-too- thrilled with Atlanta's abominable traffic. Here's a town with no place to park and no way to get there in time.

I'm speaking of the heart of Atlanta. The strip malls, of course, have plenty of parking places, the better to get your money.

But planning to visit AUC? Sweet Auburn? Georgia State? the downtown public library? the Underground? Any where on Peachtree? expect to pay for parking. And Atlanta isn't really a walking town; that is, a town where you walk to get to places. No matter MARTA, car culture is a way of life here.

And did I say the traffic was abominable? Hmm, maybe that's too harsh. Here's another adjective — impossible.

Here's a place that no matter the time of day try to go anyplace and you run right smack dab into a traffic jam. Why is traffic backed at 6:00 am? Why is it backed-up at 10:00? on a week night? where are these fools going?

And the really bad thing about Atlanta traffic is that you need a car to go anywhere or do anything. Remember, Atlanta isn't a walking city. Here in Cincinnati, for example, you can park your car and walk to the main library, department of motor vehicles, post office, a bevy of restaurants, the University of Cincinnati, the Underground Museum, the RiverWalk, even Kentucky, right over the bridge!

Not so in Atlanta where nothing is within walking distance.

And did I say the traffic is abominable …?

Finally, and perhaps most telling, there is no longer a sense of community in Atlanta. It's all gone. In fact, I feel fortunate that I experienced Atlanta's sense of community when I lived here twenty-five years ago. But again, this was when streets like MLK, Auburn, Campbellton Road had wall-to-wall black businesses. But these places and others like it are now all but abandoned by black Atlantans the result of which the town no longer has the identity it once had which was a rich and long Southern identity. Today the Arabs run all the grocery and convenience stores, the Korans all the restaurants, Businesses on Peachtree are still either lily-white or now Indian or Asian, and prices for everything in the black community are the highest to be found anywhere. Expect to pay $1.65 for a 16 oz bottle of pop, $3.00 a gallon for your gas. Either that or drive to white Buckhead where everything is about 30% cheaper.

The fact is, the Arabs, Asians — hell, even the Ethiopians and Somalians! who have come into the black community and taken over all the stores have exacted an almost third world pogrom here — they'll sell us our food, cigarettes, malt liquor and put up with our bullshit, but at a ruthless tax. Go in these places and you'll see behind the counter foreigners of every point of origin and description, but never an African-American. Whether from experience or bias, they don't hire African Americans. But who is complaining? My expedience has been that black grocery store clerks are some of the most bad tempered people there are. Meanwhile, the foreign grocery store clerks are all smiles; and why shouldn't they be? They're making twice as much as they should be because they've re-tagged everything a whopping 30% higher and their black customers are too dumb to do anything about it.

Atlanta sucks, that's the message here. The quality of life is abominable and it's getting worse. And I never thought Id be writing this. If you read my earlier posts, you know that only as recently as a month ago, I was one of Atlanta's biggest supports. Not anymore. Wild horses couldn't bet me back to that miserable place.

ricland