Economic disparity prevalent in Nashville

Last updated on January 17th, 2020 at 06:29 am

William T. Robinson, Jr.

North Nashville has been the center of controversy for many in plans for economic and social redevelopment, especially as it pertains to historic Jefferson Street. Many African Americans feel that gentrification is taking place and that Blacks are being bought out and relocated. If this process continues, Jefferson Street as well as north Nashville will not reflect the diversity it should. It has the potential of becoming a middle and upper class predominately White community. Is the Black community supposed to be blind and not see that many of north Nashville’s economically disadvantaged single-run families are being relocated to Antioch and Hermitage? The adverse price for change sometimes comes off the back of those unwilling to advocate in their own best interest.

Jefferson Street was historically the heart and pulse of the Black community in the vicinity of three historically Black universities. This historically rich and ideally located area is being compromised with little input from stakeholders in the area. Many undoubtedly see that as a slap in the face and a lack of respect for the feelings of the Black community. Nashville Blacks have no reason to apologize for the rich and proud heritage this area has afforded the city. The area is a symbol of honor and pride being compromised with the influx of Whites returning to the inner city disregarding its social and historical significance. It is no secret that if things go as planned, the face of Jefferson Street and north Nashville will reflect a predominately White middle class presence.

White contractors are buying homes, lots, and businesses and flipping them—making the area economically unreachable for many Blacks. Many Blacks are not afforded the lucrative jobs with high wages and salaries as their White counterparts—which eventually affects the type of homes or communities they can afford to live in. This disparity in income affects the communities as a form of producing isolated communities, delegating where people live.

There is speculation that money has been set aside for the redevelopment of north Nashville and other economically disadvantaged area allocated by the federal government (some to MDHA) and is being used in other areas basically to benefit the White middle class. Supposedly, this money is being made possible by loopholes and trickled down to areas such as the Gulch, east Nashville, and even projects by such affluent businesses as HCA. How is this possible many may ask? When you have no gatekeepers or watchdog groups holding people accountable, this can happen. You can believe that the mayors as well as the Chamber of Commerce and key council people know the dynamics of what is going on. The business sector have lobbyists at their beck and call advocating for bills and laws that make this practice possible.

One of the strategies used to exercise their plan is to keep the community confused and unaware by using complex and ambiguous written or oral language. Better yet, have White  dignitaries  walk  around  with  noted  Black  people in the  community attesting that all is fine and well. Please give some us who have not drunk of the ‘tainted Cool Aid’ a break. Some African Americans are not afraid or ashamed of advocating for what is right and fair for our children and families in our communities. We want a place at the table. We want to be able to decide what is in our best interests and not to be overlooked and dismissed, especially on issues involving the Black community.

The recent arrival of ‘Advance Financial’ stores in predominated Black communities has only reminded many of the disparity of wealth existing among Blacks and Whites. One is left to question how many people are not earning a living wage. Why are so many flocking to predatory lenders to make it from payday to payday or just to make ends meet? We should be fighting for better paying jobs, better schools, and better communities for all—not just for some. Red flags are going up, but some would have you believe that introducing people to the truth makes you a troublemaker. Economic disparities are real and need to be realistically addressed and dealt with.

It is only when people wake up and takes some ownership in their own lives will things change for the better. There are those hoping that the Black community will continue to sleep while they exploit it for greed and profit.

Things are about to change. If you are one of those African Americans afraid to advocate in the best interests of your community, just get out of the way. This is a new day. There are those determined to awaken righteousness, fairness, justice and economic equity. Fairness will be the name of the game. Hidden agendas will not be tolerated in eliminating economic disparities.