Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New (Old) South

Interesting column from William Jelani Cobb on Atlanta and its attempt to brand itself as the "New South" in this weekend's Washington Post (the link comes from Ta-Nehisi Coates).

Personally, I haven't spent as much time in Atlanta as I would have liked over the years. Probably a total of three weeks. Maybe a little less than that.

But it doesn't take long to figure out that it's a very complex city - there's lot of racial, political and socioeconomic factors at play there. In many ways, its a postcard for "Black America." In others, it's a renewed Southern city still trying to reconcile from very real racial tensions. And the weird thing is that you can sort of feel this when there.

I'm very conflicted about my feelings about ATL.

Here's a short list of some pros: beautiful women, a top educational hub for blacks (I once, so badly, wanted to go to Morehouse); unprecedented opportunity for the black middle-class; the feeling of being in an important, dynamic city; a very rich history; and a fantastic airport.

And some cons: a very serious crime and homeless problem (I felt seriously unsafe at times); horrendous commutes; a reputation for below-par public schools; a tad too much vanity and ego from their residents; and their pro sports teams are a little too bland (a lot like Houston).

Anyway, something to chew on.

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