Young black people love them some Atlanta. I’ve heard it called the Mecca for young black professionals. Believe it or not, there have even been comparisons to the fictional city of Wakanda. There is no question Atlanta is a bustling city. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in America. According to the U.S. Census, Atlanta grew by more than 75,000 people in 2019. The city estimates by 2040 there could be 1.2 million people living within city limits. Atlanta’s celebrity culture and its business-first mindset make it a desirable location for Black folks looking for a better life.
With 52% of Atlanta’s population being black, one could assume all this growth means black folks in Atlanta should be winning, but sadly they are not. The perception is nothing like its reality. Atlanta is plagued with economic disparities all of which have a devastating effect on black families in the city.
According to the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, the city of Atlanta leads the nation in income inequality and lack of economic mobility. The median income per household for a white family in Atlanta is $83,722, compared to $28,105 for a Black family.
It’s not just poor families who are feeling the effects of income inequality. Among more affluent African American communities, Black families are less likely to have access to cash or savings. According to AWBI, About 70% of Black families in Atlanta are liquid asset poor compared to just 22% of white families.
How is this a Mecca for black people?
They tell you to come to Atlanta if you’re black and want to make a come-up. But what they don’t mention is the folks “comin’ up” in Atlanta are white. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, the highest-paid industries in Metro Atlanta are all dominated by non-Hispanic white workers. The disparities start at a very young age and continue through adulthood. Black people in Atlanta make less money than their white counterparts no matter the education level. According to Biz Journals, the gap in earnings is greatest among those with Bachelor’s, Masters and Professional degrees.
How can Atlanta be Wakanda when almost 86% of its homeless population is black? There are about 50,000 kids enrolled in the city’s public school system. About 3,000 of them are practically homeless. Atlanta’s false claim to be the place for black prosperity is nothing more than a rouse to keep the black dollar pouring into the city. Income equality, lack of economic mobility, and homeliness all bread poverty, which then leads to violence. Political leaders get to use violence to secure their votes and win their elections. Meanwhile, black people in Atlanta are told that the hustle and the grind lead to success. That’s a lie.
For new Mayor Andre Dickens, the issues of income inequality are high on his list of problems to tackle. During a round table with media, Dickens reiterated his plan to build or preserve 20,000 affordable housing units in eight years. He also plans to raise pay for city employees and has other ideas about increasing the city’s revenue to improve salaries.
Atlanta isn’t a bad place to live at all. It almost feels right to be black in Atlanta. Blackness as a movement has seeped into the culture of this city. But its economic disparities towards Black people should not be ignored. You can not call yourself Wakanda when all the poor and homeless are black and all the good jobs are going to white men. That just sounds like regular America if you ask me.