Schizatlantia

I wrote something yesterday about how Atlanta compares to Charlotte. My post contained a bit about how Atlanta feels like it is still searching for its identity, and that it feels lacking in soul. This seemed to get one of the readers a bit riled up – he said that he was, in his words, ” . . . sick of this native-less, soul-less atlanta talk from white people.”

After the initial sting of his comments subsided, the comment got me to thinking . . . .

Do black and whites in Atlanta see the city so differently? Is Atlanta so divided (black/white, north/south, ITP/OTP, gay/straight, native/transplant) that she almost has split personalities? And if so, what am I, as a white, intown, straight, married-with-kids native missing out on? Sure, I have gay friends, black friends, friends who live OTP, friends who have not lived here their whole lives. (I even know one person who encapsulates all of these qualities: a single, gay, black, OTP, non-native Atlantan. I guess I am more culturally aware than even I thought.) That doesn’t mean that I can experience Atlanta the way that they do. What is the Atlanta that i am not seeing?

Do we all see Atlanta so differently? If not, what are the common threads in our perception of Atlanta?

13 Comments so far

  1. Harman (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    Great topic. It is interesting how divided Atlanta seems to be on so many levels. Especially among the African-American community.

    Atlanta has become synonymous with black celebrity and wealth, yet the drop out rate for Atlanta City Schools is nearly 70% and the city, despite its wealth, has a staggering amount of poverty and homelessness. Intown neighborhoods once abandoned by whites like Grant Park are now being gentrified and the new residents are now demanding less corruption and more accountability from its city and county leaders.

    Gentrification is great for the city, but the African-American “leaders” of the city/county and those on the fringe don’t like it. While the leaders like the money being brought in, they are slowly loosing their majority and power. Atlanta’s demographics are changing and fortunately the crooked black leadership (Campbell, Mckinney, King children, et al.) of this city are losing their grip. Just look what John Eaves and Mayor Franklin resorted to in this last election for county commisioner.(http://www.ajc.com/news/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2006/11/10/1110ad.html) Yet, the race was still close despite the national political sea change to democrats.


  2. George Burdell (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    You raise an interesting point, but I will refrain from answering. My real opinion is that people commenting over the internet are usually a bunch of assholes.


  3. Harman (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 4:37 pm

    Add Andrew Young to that list too…


  4. Ben (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

    I think that in general, what you get out of a city is roughly equal to what you put into it. In other words, you decide your own level of involvement.

    I suppose I can only speak for myself, but when I first moved here after spending a couple of years going to college in the suburbs (a rather unpleasant experience for me), I felt lost and a little underwhelmed.

    Eventually it clicked that if I was just going to sit inside my house/apartment all day, then there was no reason to pay the higher rent, deal with increased crime, and all the other things that come with living in the city proper. I got off my ass, started taking advantage of the unique opportunites afforded by living in the urban core, ditched the car and started riding a bike everywhere, eventually finding my place with a bunch of bike-riding city kids.

    Life has never been better for me, really. I remember my days sitting quietly in my apartment, reading stories about other people and wishing my life was only half as interesting as theirs. Now I feel like I’m regularly doing stuff that most other people only see in movies.


  5. Annie (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 8:44 pm

    Damn, Ben. .. you sound like a total stud (only a touch of sarcasm there – mostly i think it is cool that you have found your niche and are loving the city.)

    George, your comment made me laugh out loud. I think you should comment more often. We need more assholes. :-) Seriously – what do you think? You usually have interesting insight.

    Harman – I appreciate your comments. I kind of see the same thing that you are seeing. Also, I was appalled by Mayor Franklin’s involvement in that ad. She lost serious points in my book (and we all know how influential I am.) You know what, though? it sounds like our experiences are similar, and what I really want to see is the comments from people whose experiences in Atlanta have been completely different than mine. Like Ben The Bike Kid. Lovin’ him!


  6. BTI (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 9:10 am

    Annie, you probably aren’t missing anything, however I feel that you made short-sighted comment about our city’s identity. People have made this comment so much that they start believing it. To say Atlanta has no identity is to discount roughly 60% of our city’s population. While white Atlanta may have no identity, it would seem that black Atlanta certainly has one. Look no further than the civil rights movement and all the contributions that blacks from Atlanta have made on a national scale. If this came out of a smaller city, with less to offer, it would be THE identity. White people don’t identify with the civil rights movenment as much, thus claim Atlanta has no identity. If you don’t believe me head downtown for any of the King Day activities and count the white faces. I realize there’s more to it than that, but it’s just one example. Anyway, just from my everyday experiences, blacks are proud of this city, black celebs brag about calling Atlanta home. White people are quicker to pretend they are from somewhere else so as to seem cool to all the other transplants. I’m no spokesperson for the black community, this is just an honest opinion of the way I see things.

    On another note, I realize that my comments were off topic. However, you are publishing a piece of written work for others to read and should be accountable for what you write however insignificant you feel it is to the overall story. Comparing the history of Atlanta to that of Charlotte’s is something I take offense to, one reason I have listed above.

    BTW, I have no idea about the trash problem.


  7. Phillip Marks (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    Like BTI said Atlanta blacks is completely different city. We as a group have seen Atlanta as having a soul. And its not just about the civil rights movement. There is so much going on in the black community here that Atlanta is often called the black mecca. So why all this talk about Atlanta being a faceless city? Well alot of it comes from how you choose to interact with the city. Even though we claim to be the epicenter of the “New South”, Atlanta is more segregated than many acknowledge. I consider myself I real afficianado of the city, a true ATLien and ain’t done or been to most of the places in this blog. On the otherhand I bet a lot of people who write/ read this blog haven’t done half the things I’ve done. Just as a survey how many of ya’ll have a Freaknik shirt? Or as BTI pointed out marched down Auburn Ave on MLK day? And how often do ya’ll frequent Underground? You see the soul of Atlanta is all around just take a minute to take in the other side of the ATL.


  8. George Burdell (unregistered) on November 15th, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    I’ve got a FuBu Freaknik Baller shirt from 97. I’ve never been down Auburn Ave on MLK day (mostly because I travel or get incredibly hungover on long weekends). I used to frequent 5 points /underground as well – there is a lot of good shit that can be bought there and not many other places in the city (no, not drugs).

    I’ve always looked at all the different neighborhoods as having their own personality and flavor (or soul or whatever you want to call it). If you go to any of the buroughs with the right attitude, people are accepting and welcoming. I hate OTP though….


  9. Annie (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

    BTI, Phillip, and George: Great comments. BTI, i read yours a day ago and just haven’t had time to reply, but it did give me time to think about it. I was thinking that you are right – To say there is no identity is kind of a slap in the face to those who fought so hard for civil rights. I do take pride in living in a city with so much of its’ roots in civil rights. I guess it is kind of sad that I didn’t see that as a part of its identity offhand. I don’t think that is all there is, but it is a big part of it for a large part of the population, and should be something of which all Atlantans are proud.

    On another note, I’m not a civil rights historian, but I believe a lot of civil rights activism, especially in school desegregation, took place in Charlotte, too. I would not insult the efforts of activists there by pitting the two cities against one another.

    I disagree, though, that white natives pretend they are from somewhere else. I don’t know of anyone, white or black, who would be embarrassed to be from here. I am certainly proud of it. I love it in many ways, and I mourn it in a few – there are things I miss about the Atlanta I grew up in.

    Mostly, though, I agree with Bikin’ Ben and George B. – Atlanta is what you make of it, and each neighborhood has its own spirit. Maybe it is hard to pin down an identity for Atlanta because it is so many different things to different people.


  10. FTP (unregistered) on November 17th, 2006 @ 7:54 pm

    I am struck by two comments I’ve heard a lot by new residents and visitors since about year 2000:

    1) Atlanta is the Gay Mecca of the East
    2) Atlanta is the black Mecca of the country


  11. Smoove D (unregistered) on November 18th, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

    All right, retards, allow me to clear something up: ATLANTA IS A GIANT SUBURB! Look around you and what do you see? Nothing but neighborhood after neighborhood of single family homes. And corridor after corridor of chain restaurants in cheap strip commercial plazas. Sure, there are a few condos along the Peachtree Street spine, and some unique retail in Midtown, but the overwhelming majority of Atlanta is post war generica.

    Now look around and what don’t you see? A functional mass transit system.

    Atlanta has no identity, because Atlanta is the Nickelback of American cities. It’s a half assed copy of Los Angeles, right down to the fucking traffic.

    P.S. All politicians are crooks – white, black, latino, it doesn’t matter.


  12. simon (unregistered) on November 18th, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

    I think this city is a gay and black mecca and sometimes both. There are thugs everywhere and fags everywhere. It’s hard to even go shopping with my fiance without some dude trying to see if i’m straight with my girl or just living a lie like most gays in the atlanta community. It’s disheartining!
    The gays should come out of their closets and they should also stop trying to influence other straight guys that they like to join their gay mafia that surrounds us. Go to Boston and see how every person you walk by is not looking at you but thinking his own thoughts and minding his own business. Also, If I can say one thing it is that blacks stare into cars, walkers, bikers, shoppers, and anybody that walks by them. Why can’t they mind their own business like most of us try to do, and realize that it is not other people they should look at,but themselves. Georgia is the gay and black mecca and to live through it every day is like wearing a black hoodie with a gay pride t-shirt underneath proclaiming that “I Love ATL”
    and ATL is thug language for anybody that’s black, to move to atlanta because you’re welcome here and they are clearly not. As for gays, they should form an island and take every fag actor and newscaster and every model who is gay and go to that island and drink poisoned kool-aid, along with the thugs and democrats. That’s all I have to say.


  13. annie (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 9:30 am

    Simon. Anger management therapy. Seek it.



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