Atlanta is broke as hell and it’s no secret.
With recent cuts to Planned Parenthood, education, and health care, poverty in the city will undoubtedly become more deadly.
But let's be real-Atlanta’s income problem is nothing new.
A 2013 study by the Brookings Institution found Atlanta to have the highest income inequality of every city in the US.
With nationwide low minimum wage laws and soaring college prices it becomes impossible to climb out of poverty, especially when considering how Atlanta’s black and immigrant populations are at increased risk of police, employment, and housing discrimination.
On a broader scale, Atlanta’s poverty can be traced to two methods of oppression: gentrification and classism.
Gentrification is dangerous because while it quickly creates new businesses, housing complexes, and restaurants, they are not authentic. Simply put, these new developments are not created by and for residents of the places in which they are created. They are often overpriced and therefore inaccessible to local working class who already have limited choices for affordable food and housing.
Here’s the tea:
Many new city developments are created by rich assholes for one reason alone: profit. They are marketed to and priced for the middle and upper class, because those people have money to spend.
Ponce City Market does not exist to better the community, it exists to create a profit.
Suntrust Park was not created to help employ working class citizens, it exists to create a profit.
Georgia State’s plans to renovate Turner field will not reduce the prices for their students, but it will create a nice chunk of revenue.
All this time upper-class Atlantians and tourists get to enjoy new shops and sports arenas, while thousands of poor Atlantians are pushed out of their homes and left to wonder where their next meal will come from.
When gentrification becomes this common, it leads to complacency, which births classist ideologies.
Consider the power dynamic in Atlanta that allows shopping outlets for the wealthy to be prioritized over access to healthy food for the poor. Wealthy people are literally having new developments constructed for them off the backs of the displaced, poor, and homeless.
We must demand change.
While gentrification and classism create problems due to lack of access, they themselves are problems created by a lack of accountability. Each day millions of citizens support the very businesses which profit off of the displacement of their neighbors.
This creates a grim truth for the economy of Atlanta:
New business are booming, but the workers are dying.
It is important to recognize that these statements are not mutually exclusive, but rather entirely interdependent.
As time goes on and these truths become more evident, we must become more belligerent.
If government officials, university officials, and businesses choose to excel at the expense of their constituents, students, and customers—they must be loudly and unapologetically rejected.
As queer people, we have a responsibility not only to reject this classism, but forcefully oppose it.
As citizens, we can use our money to support local business, especially those that are POC and Queer owned.
We need more homeless shelters, more food banks, and better public transportation, not more brand name clothing stores.
We must reject any and all politicians and media who use language that demonizes poor and homeless people.
It is imperative that we elect representatives who oppose the drug war, and funding cuts to inner city education, housing, and health care programs.
Perhaps most importantly, we must never give up.