I was a nineteen-year-old college student when street philosopher Doughboy in the movie Boyz N The Hood uttered the words that would stay with me more than twenty-five years later, “either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” Only the great Ice Cube with his Compton cadence could deliver such a line and it land perfectly.
Today, I’m feeling Doughboy’s frustration.
I see clearly what is happening in Nashville and have for some time but few people are honest about the state of this city. You can’t spend 10 minutes within the city limits and miss our issues; literacy, the burgeoning homelessness, and lack of affordable housing – just to name a few. But yesterday, Mayor David Briley, in a speech to a large group of the city’s business elite disingenuously stated: “Affordable housing is not a crisis… but it is a significant problem.”
Actually, I’m being disingenuous by using the term disingenuous. The mayor told a big, fat lie. In 2016, Nashville’s homelessness population exploded to sixth largest in the country. In 2017, Nashville had the largest cost-of-living increase of any major U.S. city and salaries didn’t increase with it. In 2018, the mayor has spent millions of dollars deceiving voters about the benefits of a billion dollar train system and making deals with the wealthy using beloved public real estate as the bargaining chip. Meanwhile, developers are having a field day building $3,000/mo. apartments and half million dollar 900 square foot homes in what was formerly known as the “hood”. All this during a “status quo” budget year that couldn’t afford to give firefighters a measly cost-of-living raise. In addition to the affordable housing crisis, let’s add a crisis of truth and trust.
The Building is Burning
While the mayor is busy looking the other way, Metro Schools parents have organized a letter campaign to oust director of schools Dr. Shawn Joseph. They are pissed. According to some of the emails I’ve read, the ire is identical to that of school board members Jill Speering and Amy Frogge. Ms. Speering and Ms. Frogge no doubt have a loyal network willing to go to bat for them and I have to respect that. However, I’d love to believe this effort is for the kids and have tried to think positively about it, but I’m having a hard time justifying firing the director in September as a move for the babies.
Also, today is the big, hairy school board officer election and word is Amy Frogge and Sharon Gentry are contenders for Chair. For anyone new to this city’s current school board politics, it’s very simple: Ms. Frogge is no friend to Dr. Joseph; Dr. Gentry is a friend to Dr. Joseph; there are nine school board members, three of which are brand spanking new. Given the dynamics of the school board, the letter writing campaign is a strong tactic since the three newly elected members have no real attachment to the director and should be able to assess the situation more objectively. This could go either way, but either way, tonight a statement about Dr. Joseph’s future will be made clear.
To be continued…
Perhaps the real scandal in all of this is that for thousands of Nashvillians the building is burning and the mayor approaches the fiery scene with a spray bottle and communicates to the public that it’s only a small flame.
Either he doesn’t know, doesn’t show, or don’t care about what’s really going in the city.
Volume and Light remembers each of the 2,977 lives lost on September 11, 2001.
God bless their families and the city of New York. God bless us all.