Racism and Anti-Racism
Gentrification in Atlanta is fundamentally racist. So is calling the fight against gentrification "racist."
Bill White, leading Buckhead secessionist, is dogwhistling again.
The legislature is going to try to put a bill in front of the governor to allow Buckhead a vote to disincorporate from Atlanta this year. The idea is absolutely and unmistakably steeped in racial animus. This is what that animus looks and sounds like.
It sounds like calling the Black, newly-elected mayor of Atlanta “a racist” because he said he doesn’t want rising housing costs to push poor Black people out of the city.
This comment is depraved. It is also entirely on brand for White’s movement. This Instagram post is deliberately provocative, an act of calculated offense meant to deepen relationships with a specific kind of racially-blinkered supporter. It is Trumpism manifest. And it’s worth a word or ten.
Here’s a working definition of racism: policies and acts that perpetuate racial inequality. If you are supporting such things, you’re a racist. If you are fighting against them, you’re an anti-racist.
Bill White is a racist. Andre Dickens is an anti-racist.
To accept White’s commentary is to argue that the city presents no racial inequality for Black residents to overcome — that everything is perfectly fair right now. This is, of course, a completely stupid and erroneous position to take, given all of the metrics available.
Atlanta has the lowest income mobility measured in America. It is among the most unequal cities in America, with white households earning nearly three times as much as Black households. Black households in the city of Atlanta struggle objectively; a median Black household income under $30,000 is a marginal existence in a city with a median rent of $1,790. There are 1,216 apartments listed for rent in Atlanta on Trulia tonight. Exactly 21 are listed for $1,000 or less a month.
Poverty in Atlanta is concentrated entirely within the Black community. There is not a single census tract with a white plurality below the poverty line in Atlanta — a fact that Andre Dickens himself pointed out to me.
The concentration of poverty is what is driving crime in Atlanta. And because that poverty is almost exclusively among Black residents, so too is the violence. At least 158 people have been murdered in Atlanta this year, so far — one more than last year, with one day to go.
Seven of the victims are white. Five are Asian, four of which came from the massage parlor spree killing in January. Two are Latino. All the remaining 143 victims are Black. About 91 percent of murder victims in Atlanta are Black because about 91 percent of the city’s poverty is Black.
Let me repeat that for the 74 percent of Buckhead residents who are white: White people aren’t the ones getting shot. There are about 67,000 white residents of Buckhead. About 68 people have been shot in Zone 2 this year and it is entirely possible that none of them are white people who actually live in Buckhead. Midyear, the entire city had only six white gunshot victims.
The violence is not equal.
Buckhead, as part of Atlanta, can help reduce these inequalities as part of a collective effort led by Dickens. Buckhead, as a separate entity, would not — at least, not if White’s political sentiment is reflected in its policies.
Secession will make racial inequality worse. Bill White promotes secession. Thus, Bill White is a racist.
His comment isn’t some cherry-picked outlier. We’re talking about someone who shilled his act on Tucker Carlson’s show. He is promoting a petition to “ban” the selling of water on street corners — an act that is already illegal. He’s looking to lock up poor Black children because the presence of poor Black people in predominately white, wealthy spaces is unacceptable.
When racists call other people racist, the purpose is to diminish the descriptive value of the word. Racists like to argue that people fighting against racism are, somehow, the real racists, because they have the temerity to notice discrimination when it happens and to do something about it. Non-racist people have the sense to ignore such things, because racism isn’t real unless you notice it … and if you notice it, you must be a racist. Right?
White supremacists want and need other white people to believe that any charge of racism — including their own! — is invalid because "everything is racist now." "Everything is racist" argues that the description of some specific thing as racist is arbitrary and the motivation for doing so should be considered suspect ... while saying nothing about whether that thing actually is racist on its merits. It is an indirect defense of racism.
This false equivalency is a deliberate strategy to diminish. It is stupid. But it’s the internal logic of white supremacists, and no one else.
Those white supremacists are the target audience for Bill White’s initiative. White thinks two-thirds of the white people in Buckhead are racist enough to buy this nonsense.