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What if Atlanta doesn’t love me?

By Ayodele Harrison – Senior Partner of Education and Director of BMEsTalk for CommunityBuild Ventures


According to the Changing the Odds report released in 2019 by The Annie E Casey Foundation, African Americans and whites together represent nearly 90 percent of the city’s total population – 52% African American and 37% white. 

Let these numbers sink in for a moment:

  • $28,567 is the median annual household income for African Americans living in Atlanta
  • $86,678 is the median annual household income for whites living in Atlanta
  • 76% of African American children in Atlanta live in high poverty areas.  
  • 6% of white children in Atlanta live in high poverty areas.  
  • 20% of African American children in Atlanta are completing 3rd reading on grade level
  • 80% of white children in Atlanta are completing 3rd reading on grade level

Staggering, right?   

Racial Equity* is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.  

Last week, I posted the 6th episode of my podcast Ayodele Speaks entitled “What if Atlanta doesn’t love me?. I chose that title in response to a billboard I saw in my community that read, “Curfew 8pm, If you love Atlanta, PLEASE GO HOME.” 

This billboard was posted in response to the uprising that had occurred in downtown Atlanta days earlier.  Driving past the billboard, the words just didn’t sit right with me.  So much so, that I circled back through an adjacent shopping complex to take a second, longer look at the billboard. I didn’t have the words at the moment, but I had a feeling. I was pissed.  The word “love” kept sticking out. Then it came to me, ‘How dare the person that commissioned this sign use my community’s love for itself as an instrument to silence our right free move around?”  As I continued on my way, the stats from the Changing the Odds report flooded into my mind. Then I thought, “What if Atlanta doesn’t love me?”  And by ‘me’, I mean my people, African Americans.   

*Adapted from Center for Assessment and Policy Development

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