I grew up about 10 minutes from a landfill in Tipton County, Tennessee. My high school was actually located on the same highway less than a mile away from this landfill and my elementary and middle schools were also about a mile from it. Every Saturday, my mom and I would make a trip to the dump. It wasn’t anything that I ever thought was strange or harmful in anyway. I thought that was what was normal for all families throughout the United States. All I really knew about it was that you had to pay a free in order to get a pass to dump your trash and other materials there. It wasn’t until reading in “Dumping in Dixie” and discussing this topic in class that I realized that this landfill is a byproduct of environmental racism. The landfill is an example of a LULU (locally undesired land use), which decreases property values, increases inequality, and causes small businesses to see fewer profits. After learning about the effects of these landfills and hazardous waste dumps, it made me think about the health and economic status of those in my hometown community. Could the landfill be harming people and lowering their quality of life?
Today, southerners are still suffering from institutionalized discrimination. It is very scary to think that your health could be impacted by these landfills, from the quality of the water to the quality of soil. These LULUs can affect the quality of our lives. The perception that these LULUs can affect your health creates depreciation of property values. There are very few (if any) regulations for LULUs. Small southern communities are also vulnerable to LULUs because they have an abundance of land. In class, we discussed that environmental racism intersects with class, rural living, and people of color. I found this to hit home with the fact that the town I grew up in has a landfill on the main highway, close to schools and many homes. The landfill never bothered me; I couldn’t smell it unless we were actually there, but now I think maybe we were all just used to the scents coming from the dump. I was definitely naïve when it comes to knowing about the effects that can occur because of LULUs. We watched a video in class, “Earthkeeping,” that went into detail about different communities fighting back against environmental racism. Communities in the video suffered most from pollution and benefited least from cleanups. One quote from the video really stuck out to me; a man stated: “If you fill a residential area with garbage, you are saying the people are garbage.” This quote made me think of all the places throughout our country that have these trash dumps and are stuck with poor health, less small business profits, and lower property values. It was encouraging to see how members of the community actually cared about fixing these issues. I hope that one day Tipton County residents will also see these issues subside.
The Southern colonies depended on slaves whether it was for the economy, society, or their own personal needs. Southerners who did not have slaves still depended on them just on the soul fact that they were beneath them and made them feel better about their place in society. The economy in the south depended on slavery for the cotton growing areas and slave trading. Slavery has played a huge role in the Southern Colonies in developing economical and society choices in the 1600s-1800s.
Southern society mirrored European society in many ways. When slavery originated it was made up of indentured servants, yeomen, and the wealthy plantation owners. Indentured servants were mostly from England and came over to America around 1630-1660. They were fairly young and most were not married. Their contract lasted about four to seven years and trading the servants in the south came into play around 1620-1770. The yeomen population consisted of families that held small areas of land that they used to cultivate to produce goods; these families were a non slaveholding population. They typically lived in areas like the Appalachians and Ozark Mountains. The wealthy plantation owners were families that were slave owners. They made their money by making the slaves to do their work and get much profit in return. Their population was only about 1,700 but was the highest class in the southern colonies.
Slavery played a role in all the southern colonies. It affected them in either a positive way or negative way. Slavery affected the yeomen in a negative way, because the yeomen were only able to produce a small amount of crops whereas the slaves that belong to the wealthy plantation owners were able to produce a mass amount, leaving the yeomen with very little profit. Even though the yeomen believed they could create a future for themselves and their families by farming and other agricultural opportunities, slavery came about they were in turmoil. The wealthy plantation owners were using this for their benefit; they were able to pay the slaves very little in exchange for the mass amount of crops they could produce. Slavery worked in a very positive way for the plantation owners.
Southern society was changing itself according to the needs of slavery because the southern economy was the foundation. This being said the numbers of slaves were rapidly increasing because of the rise of King Cotton in the lower south. The cotton area of the lower south were using slaves and depending on them much more than the upper south was with the tobacco kingdom. To keep up with the lower south, the upper south starting focusing more slave trade to help build their framings. It is important to recognize the diversity between plantation society and a farming slave-trading region.
The slave prices were increasing and due to high demands in the lower south, the upper south was failing with the tobacco kingdom. Since the upper south was failing, slave trade took off. The slave trade did help the upper south but there were many flaws. The slave rate was on its last legs of importance in the upper south meaning it had a weaker grip on civic loyalty than in the cotton states. This made the upper south divided on what their future held. They didn’t know whether their future was with the Deep South’s plantation economy or within the growing free-labor system just north of the south.
The lower south had advances like the warm climates and the cotton gin. Although many farmers could not afford the cotton gin it was a huge help to the crops. Regardless of the achievements the cotton kingdom did not carry a consistently of steady wealth to the lower south.
Despite the flaws of slavery in the south it had a necessary effect on society and its economy. Many African Americans came over to theUnited States as slaves and soon would be a part of our country. Slavery played a huge role in our history and madeAmerica what it is today.America is afree state and continues to learn from our mistakes and findings.
African Americans in the late eighteenth and early ninetieth century mostly lived in the south and worked there as well. The South was suffering many disadvantages with region situation and this affected the black farmer’s crops. The jobs in the Upper South for African Americans were that of mine, iron, furnaces, and tobacco factories offered jobs opportunities for blacks as well as the farming jobs. In the Deep South blacks owned a small portion of land themselves that could farm on. Blacks never would receive a superior job in the factories, because only white men would hold these jobs. Black women could not work unless they worked as a servant in a white person’s home. After the Civil War there were schools built for the African Americans. The African Americans who lived in the urban communities had colleges, churches, and even cubs that the women could attend.
In 1877 Black voting and black office holding was very common in politics. Black women activist had a banner of political leadership and in 1896 the National Association of Colored Women was brought about. This was made up of different cubs brought together to promote women rights and to bring racial encouragement. In 1890-1906 every south state turned on the blacks and enacted laws to do away with black voting all together. Although the fifteen amendment states “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Southern founded new laws they could use against them. The southerners passed a
poll tax law, (had to pay a tax fee to vote) and many making it impossible for black people to vote. It was not until 1891 that the Supreme Court gave its approval to throw away the law keeping the blacks from voting due to the fourteenth amendment.
One of the most famous people in black history was Booker T. Washington. He was a most famous for his heart warming and motivating speech at the Atlantic Cotton Exposition which encourage blacks to adjust to the world around them. He also suggested to work for the whites and urn there freedom. His impacted speech lead to the blacks concentrating on building there outlasted communities because it was impossible for the whites power over blacks would not last forever.
There was a breakthrough in history for the African Americans and it was the Civil Rights Act. This would allow blacks to use hotels, theaters and railroads. Although they had a break through with the Civil Rights Act they faced one of the most difficult times in black history. In 1915 the Ku Klux Klan was growing strong with over three million members. They were a club who disliked immigrants including all blacks. The attack and impact they had on the racial part of our country need to come to an end. In 1925 the K.KK. began to fade. The north and south agreed to move the blacks in a second class citizenship which gave blacks even more rights.
In the 1920’s about one million black people moved to New York’s Harlem York, Chicago, and other urban cities. Harlem York was named the capital of the black community. Harlem York became a good home for the blacks and the first Broadway show casted a black actor in the play.
For years now, I have witnessed both coffee shop and Twitter arguments over social happenings as it applies to race. African-Americans unite over the fact that their is a prejudice within the American justice system: witnessing the wrongful execution of Troy Davis and the release of Casey Anthony. We often relate the inequality to the color of our skin, seeing as facts presented in court do not withstand a chance. In Davis’ case, for example, he was convicted after several witnesses attested to his guilt, but almost all of those witnessed recanted their statements and admitted to perjury and bribery by the police. In Anthony’s case, she was held throughout the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance and death, but was acquitted because of ‘lack of evidence’. Situations like these stir up our silenced, and often repressed feelings, about race in America (and especially the South).
On Sunday, December 1st, as we welcomed the end of the year, Twitter took to the latest trend “#RacismEndedWhen”. The purpose: the 58th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ movement in the Montgomery bus boycotts. The initial tweet: “@GOP: Today we remember Rosa Parks bold stand and her role in ending racism.” Attached lies a picture with a quote from Parks herself reading, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” Almost instantly the replies to the Twitter responsible for ‘updates from the Republican National Committee’ streamed in and the hashtag trend “#RacismEndedWhen” became a Top Trend. Among some of the answers was, “…when we got a Black President” and “Reagan solved it”. However, it got me thinking… racism never ended. Perhaps the manager of this account is defining racism as laws that single out a race, but calling the START of such an indefinite task the end of a long struggle was not the best way to commemorate a major accomplishment of the Civil Rights Movement
As a region, the South gets hit the hardest with the racism card. With many of our state capitols and major cities being monumental, tourists from all over always wonder if there’s still nooses on the sides of roads in Mississippi or if they’ll be looked at sideways in some parts of the city. Truthfully, I must acknowledge that both are probably true, not because we failed to evolve after we lost the Civil War, but because we all act off of learned behaviors. Not every city is a melting pot, nor are they all evenly distributed. However, racism persists in our workforce, marketing, and educational settings based on what we allow. Racism has become such a large issue because we have gotten into the habit of deciding what other people deserve for them, instead of asking. For example, Hispanics are often used for non-contracting jobs because it benefits the employer. We see it as us giving them a job, but water down the fact that they are too often being underpaid. I guess you could say #RacismEndedWhen we stopped lynchings and began organized suppression. Otherwise, there’s no such thing.
I was thinking about what was the most surprising thing to me about the South that has significantly changed over the years. I immediately thought about the segregation. It is still hard for me to believe that something like that took place in America, and specifically in the Southern states. I always heard about it in my history classes but I never fully understood the real meaning of it and consequences that it brought to America. Furthermore, I think I will never fully understand how could human beings be segregated by their skin color. I found a video on YouTube about Segregation during the Jim Crow laws. It is unbelievable to me to how only about 70 years ago something like that existed. African-Americans were not allowed to stay together with whites in public places such as lunch counters, restaurants, theaters, public transportation, schools, restrooms, pools, fountains, waiting rooms, libraries, some communities, etc. After seeing this video, it really made realize even more, why the South felt/feels guilty. It is embarrassing to see something like that happened 7o years ago in the country that lead the world now. America is known for its freedom; moreover, the South for its southern hospitality, honestly, to me it is fake. Many things are eye opening to me after moving to the South from Europe. Sometimes, I just wish I could to talk to these people who were supporting the segregation and ask them, “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have a heart?” It really does not make sense to me.. How can the South be so religious and let something like that to happen.
I also believe it has caused many serious consequences that the country will deal for a long time. African- Americans will remember it will forever. Even thought things are better, people are still dealing with guilt and embarrassment. Even I am feeling guilty sometimes. I have been in situations were i was told my family probably do not like black people. My family is not even from here but just because I am white, I feel like I am responsible for something like that and felt uncomfortable many times.
On the other hand, even thought it is hard to believe it, I do believe that the South has come a long way. The segregation do not exist in that extreme cases, blacks and whites are equally treated. I must say it is impressive to me that such things happened and America managed to become this “GREAT” country to live in. In my opinion, people still segregate each other sometime unintentionally, but nevertheless, the South is totally different place now in 2013. I also believe that the southern blacks are so religious because of the fact how they were treated. I did not think about it before and learned that while living in the South. I would have become super religious as well if I was being treated like that. The South is not perfect and is still under the criticism, but things are definitely moving in a better direction!
While thinking about what I should write for my final blog post, a story came on the news about pre-k in the Shelby County school system. Not to my surprise, the pre-k option for the school system did not get approved because people did not vote for it. For one, there was a low voter turn out rate. Only forty percent of registered voters went to the polls to vote. Secondly, out of that forty percent that did vote, they overwhelming voted no. I questioned why would people deny the children of the city the opportunity to get a jump start on their education and I came up with a few logical answers to these questions.
The first thing I could think about was who might have been apart of that forty percent who voted. Now I am not positive, but I assume that the people who voted not to have pre-k added in the school system were a part of the upper middle and upper class economic group. I say this because people who have money do not need to send their children to city funded pre-k programs. These people are able to send their children to private institutions or hire tutors to educate their children; therefore, they do not need a pre-k system in order to educate their children. This is a big issue in the South. Memphis in particular does not value a child’s education. Instead of providing a quality education to all children, the city of Memphis expects the parent to insure that their child is properly educated. TO a certain degree, I do believe it is the parents responsibility to make sure their child is receiving an education, but that only means making sure their child attends school and completes any homework while at home. The rest of the responsibility lies in the school system and they are not doing a very good job.
Another reason I believe pre-k was not voted for is because some people view it as a day care for their kids. In the south I always hear a lot of parents saying that they can’t wait till their child goes to school so they can have a break. This is a mindset that numerous parents have in the south. Instead of viewing school as a place their child can go to better themselves, they instead view it as somewhere they can send their child to get some type of relief for a few hours a day. If parents do not step up and take a stand for their child’s education then who will?
The quality of education in the south is far inferior than the education children receive in the north. As a whole, the south tends to have a me first attitude and does not care about the education opportunities for the children. It is important to remember that children truly are our future and without them we will be lost. They are the future doctors, attorneys, and teachers so if we do not educate them properly where does that leave the south as a whole?