Black support for our mayor dwindling

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

In light of several community related decisions that have taken place in Nashville, many Blacks in Nashville find themselves doubting the sincerity and the transparency of the mayor in advocating for what they feel is in their best interest. There is a growing number of Black Nashvillians who voted for Megan Barry who have openly expressed that they feel taken advantage of and betrayed. They feel she has made clandestine deals with business corporations and esoteric groups compromising the needs of the locals.

It is no secret that many indigenous Nashvillians feel that the direction guiding her vision (while appearing commendable) is inadvertently and adversely affecting them. Many have voiced that they feel in her pursuit to promote Nashville as the ‘It City’ and lure corporate businesses and accommodate their whims, she has put the concerns and needs of the locals on the back burner. In her pursuit to lure more businesses and venues promoting visitors and guests, she isn’t really giving her ‘all’ to address and rectify what many see as our greatest problem (short of traffic congestion), which is affordable housing. Building a couple of affordable housing buildings here and there is not realistically dealing with the problem—especially when in reality it isn’t tackled as the biggest priority in city budgeting.

The metamorphosis Nashville is undergoing is phenomenal and impressive, but many Nashvillians feel we need to temporarily refrain from bringing in big name corporations by offering them business concessions or tax breaks. That keeps them from being big contributors and paying their fair share of city and state taxes for years.

Let’s just be realistic. Our infrastructure can only support so much growth at one time, and all big corporations should pay their fair share to support Nashville’s growth. The revenue from guests visiting our city, utilizing the hotels, restaurants and stores is great and helps put money in the city’s coffers. But when the visitors leave, the indigenous people of Nashville need an affordable place to live.

Seriously affordable housing is a problem for which the whole city holds the mayor accountable to help resolve. But there are some isolated decisions the Black community feel the mayor has been negligent or deceptive about, e.g., promoting the acquisition of the Northwest YMCA by Metro Parks and Board; the proposal of turning the city’s indigent General Hospital to an outpatient facility; entertaining the residential and commercial development of Fort Negley; and expecting the Black community to support her $5.2 billion proposed Transit Plan when many feel their needs will be trivialized.

Many begin to doubt the mayor’s motives when some members of the board of directors of the Northwest YMCA and General Hospital claimed they were unaware of her position until public meetings were held or revealed by the media. Clearly, there appears to be a lack of understanding or communication.

No one doubts the mayor has had a lot of major decisions to make, but like too many before her—many Blacks feel she is throwing them under the bus. Many would argue she has put the wishes and concerns of private individuals and big businesses and corporations above the wishes of common citizens trying to remain here in the city. It all comes down to funding and finding monies to support ‘your’ pet projects. It seems projects affecting Black Nashvillians have been put on the back burner if even entertained at all.

As it stands now, most of these primary concerns involving predominately Black entities have been put on hold, given a temporary reprieve until a later date. One should be aware that using time to appease a group and using hired Blacks in an administration to argue your case has been a practice that is really a slap in the face and an insult to those in the know in the Black community.

Many Blacks in Nashville feel the city and mayor owes them for years of dumping undesirable projects in their communities, and therefore should be open to offering restitutions, including: allowing and supporting the continuation of the Northwest YMCA as an independent entity with subsidies from the Council if necessary; allowing General Hospital to remain the city’s main indigent hospital by finding a way to make it work; respecting the historic significance of Fort Negley and keeping it off limits for residential or commercial development; and involving North and Northwest Nashville as major priority areas in the proposed Transit Project (not on the backend).

The mayor must understand these are issues many Black Nashvillians are not willing to back down from or concede to. They are hoping she does the right thing and revive their faith in her by working diligently to correct their concerns. As a matter of quid pro quo, work favorably with resolving problems concerning issues that matter to the Black community—then you may get some much needed Black support for your proposed transit plan.