It is no secret that Nashville, Tennessee is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The city is inundated with people from all over the country flocking to Nashville for opportunities made possible by the location of big businesses relocating in the area and its accessibility as an academic center providing a working pool for these jobs. It is a major tourist attraction for those interested in all genres of music, especially country music. It is accessible to many interstates, and the weather is commendable when compared to other cities.
No doubt Nashville has it going on from the outside looking in, but many of its residents would beg to differ when it comes to who is truly benefiting from the city’s phenomenal growth. Some would argue there is a noticeable disparity when it comes to those sharing in the benefits of Nashville’s growth. The truth is that many people are literally being thrown under the bus or being trivialized by a handful of people interested in making money at whatever the cost.
Probably the biggest lure of attracting several large businesses to Nashville is providing decades of tax-exempt status to be supplemented by the taxpayers. This can be acceptable if the jobs offer livable salaries. However when told of the large number of jobs being created, the salaries are often omitted to the public. In many cases, these jobs offer minimum wages or don’t offer a living wage. Many people are relegated to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
Studies done by many groups point out that minorities are given the lowest paid jobs by several businesses, affecting the employee’s ability to where they can afford to live. To add insult to injury, many jobs are being outsourced to private companies—hurting the employees overall, with lower salaries and reduced benefits. The only winners are those in the upper management of these privatized companies who get bonuses for keeping costs to a minimum. The public is being duped by companies to support outsourcing and privatization to save jobs, when in the end employees will lose out in salary and benefits. Studies show that many minorities (especially African Americans) are the main group losing out by not being rehired. Those hired lose a substantial amount of their income, often relegating them to the status of the working poor.
With all the new construction occurring in Nashville, African Americans are not represented equitably as laborers according to several studies. In Nashville’s mission to provide housing for the influx of those migrating to Nashville, extensive gentrification is taking place in the historic Black neighborhoods. The drawback is that previous inhabitants are often unable to afford to return.
Lack of affordable housing is a tool used to relocate some people to predetermined locations, thus controlling where a singled out-group of people can live. We all know zip codes can determine the level of education available to some children and access to safe and affable neighborhoods. One can conclude after seriously studying the growth in Nashville that there are losers who will continue to lose unless administrators, special groups and politicians advocate in their interest. Let’s work to help make Nashville a city involved in working in the best interests of all its residents.