POLITICO Calls Depopulating Black Cities "The Next Next Great Migration"
Print Friendly and PDF

Politico considers a topic I wrote about recently in Taki’s Magazine in my column on Jackson, Mississippi’s water infrastructure problems: that heavily black neighborhoods tend to depopulate.

What Will Become of ‘America’s Blackest City’?

In South Fulton, Georgia, two radically different ideas about Black political power are vying for control. The fate of the city hangs in the balance.


09/16/2022 04:30 AM EDT

Michael Kruse is a senior staff writer at POLITICO and POLITICO Magazine.

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — There has never in the history of the United States of America been anything like this five-year-old city. On the southwest outskirts of Atlanta, it is a mostly suburban municipality with a population of some 108,000 of which nine of every 10 of the residents are Black. Of places of its size, it is statistically the Blackest by far. A hundred or so years after millions of rural Black people began to alter the contours of national politics by migrating toward better jobs and lives in cities, then suburbs, across the country, the existence and the autonomy of South Fulton would seem like a welcome culmination of a long evolution from powerlessness to power. The mostly middle-class Black people here have achieved the financial and political wherewithal to run things their way and for their benefit.

And the city is tearing itself apart.

Parts of South Fulton are pretty nice: it’s a little higher than average for Georgia for income and other measures.

… From 2000 to 2020, major cities with significant Black populations have turned decidedly less Black — New York, Detroit, Baltimore and others. In a sense, it is a reversal of the “Great Migration” that turned America’s cities into anchors of Black political power. The political consequences differ from city to city. Some, such as Washington and Chicago, have been grappling with a shift away from longstanding Black political power structures — even though the mayors are Black. Atlanta is different: Although the Black population inside the city limits went down in that 20-year span from 253,564 to 233,018, the metropolitan area as a whole has been a beneficiary. In that time, the Black population went up by 67 percent. …

Suburban blacks in Fulton County probably would have been content to remain unincorporated, but white neighborhoods started incorporating, so black neighborhoods did too in 2017.

The city council are the usual pro-business politicians that have made the Atlanta area a destination for middle class blacks, but the gay Afrosocialist mayor, khalid kamau (yes, he doesn’t capitalize his made-up name, for reasons)…

Whereas the former mayor and most of the council members practice the incremental, integrationist, typically more moderate politics of Atlanta’s Black elite, kamau is much more radical — a gay, Christian, socialist, self-described “elected activist” and “Black nationalist,” a former film student, flight attendant, bus driver, Black Lives Matter organizer and city council member. As mayor, he has to this point, and to the constant consternation of his fellow Democratic South Fulton elected officials, stressed his slogans of “America’s Blackest City” and “Black on Purpose.” His goal, he has said, is to create here not only a “laboratory” for progressive policy but “a real-life Wakanda” — the fictional Black African empire that is the setting for the movies “Black Panther” and the forthcoming “Wakanda Forever.” …

Spend any time in this strange, singular capital of “The Next Great Migration” and what one starts to hear are the beginnings of whispers of a kind of next Next Great Migration. Because even as the city’s leaders debate issues of identity and disparate ways to wield representative political power, what preoccupies most of the residents of the city are more basic promises of economic prosperity and security. If, after all, a city that was founded to give its residents more control over their tax dollars and destiny is instead costing its citizens the same or more, and with head-shaking dissension to boot, how long will people stay before they decide, again, to move somewhere else?

[Comment at Unz.com]

Print Friendly and PDF