An Honest Look at DeKalb County: America’s Second Best County for Black People…

Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. ~Edwin Powell Hubble, The Nature of Science, 1954

A visualization of the Black Hole in the Black Mecca

Watching the steady implosion of the Black Mecca offers a glimpse of what will soon transpire across the entire nation. Property value is plummeting in  metro Atlanta after years of Black migration from other parts of the nation to the promised land of public jobs and preferential contract work with the city of Atlanta, Fulton County, and Fortune 100 companies with offices (and aggressive affirmative action hiring programs) there.

 As the metro Atlanta counties become “Blacker” (i.e., greater percentage of Blacks than other racial groups), the tax-base shrinks. Clayton County offers the best glimpse of what happens to a once thriving county when the Blacks take over.

DeKalb County is the Prince Georges County of metro Atlanta for Blacks (54 percent Black and 33 percent white), considered by many to be the best place in the Black Mecca to call home (if you are Black — just ask former CEO of DeKalb County Vernon Jones, who tried to remake the city government in a Black image). Look at this quote from USA Today in 2001, where The Blacks talk about the glory of segregated communities:

“Segregation doesn’t necessarily speak to bias and discrimination in all cases,” says William Boone, political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. “Sometimes, people make a rational choice.”

Choice is what created many black suburban enclaves around Atlanta. Some of them are among the most affluent black neighborhoods in the country. In DeKalb County, subdivisions of million-dollar homes are being developed by blacks for blacks.

“People say in code when they come, ‘I want to go where people look like me,’ ” says Pamela Holmes, a real estate agent and chief of staff for DeKalb County’s chief executive. “In Atlanta, they can get a $200,000 or $300,000 home or million-dollar home and still be with people who look like them. And that’s an asset.”

Holmes and her husband, Benjamin, live in the suburbs. Their subdivision in Stone Mountain, which has 175 homes, was built in 1994. They were the third black family to move in. “We had no idea which way it would go,” she says. The subdivision is now 85% black, 10% Hispanic and 5% Asian. The Holmes’ neighbors are athletes, doctors, teachers and executives.

Boone, who is black, also lives in a predominantly black suburb. He says that as blacks gain financial and political clout, the need to integrate decreases. In the past, blacks had to move to white neighborhoods to find good homes, good schools, low crime and better public services, he says.

Now, blacks are more influential and can get the same types of services in black neighborhoods. “We have to rethink this whole question of who wants integration and why we want integration,” Boone says.

If it’s such a great place to live (and a wonderful, affluent place for Black people), why is there such a huge budget deficit for the DeKalb school system. In particular, one that is 71 percent Black – K-12 – and where nearly 64% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches.

DeKalb County saw 18,000 of its residents foreclosed upon in 2010, the third-highest number in Georgia, which contributed to the county seeing a drop in tax digest in early May of this year.

Now, reports CBS Atlanta, the situation is getting dire for what is touted as one of the best counties in all of America for Black people:

The DeKalb County School system faces a $73 million shortfall for the upcoming school year, and they said much that deficit can be blamed on falling property values in the county.  About 40 percent of the school district’s revenue comes from property tax revenues, according to school district spokesman Walter Woods.

Those property values fell 6 percent last year, he said, when the district was only expecting them to fall 4 percent.

“You’ve seen this around the metro area,” Woods said. “You’ve seen other metro counties face this – Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Atlanta Public Schools all face declining property values. That’s our chief source of income.”

 No one wants to mention the correlation between race and property value (in many cases – such as Fayette and Forsyth County – property value is tied to K-12 school system performance, which is directly tied to the race of the students enrolled), so it falls on SBPDL to point out that the halcyon days of unlimited growth in the Black Mecca are done.

DeKalb County test scores (on the CRCT Test) indicate that those affluent Black parents didn’t exactly earn their jobs on merit:

The DeKalb County School System is one of the lowest performing systems in metro Atlanta in several subjects and other school systems are improving faster than DeKalb’s according to 2011 CRCT results.

When compared with other systems such as Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Public Schools and Fulton County Schools, DeKalb, although making slight improvements, is still improving more slowly than the systems surrounding it.

 It’s time to call metro Atlanta for what it is: the Black Hole of America.

Fernbank Science Center in Actual Black-Run DeKalb County: A relic of white people

Already, graduation rates are abysmal in a school system that is nearly 3/4ths Black. Black scores on the NAEP tests were… bad, when compared to the standard set by white students (a dwindling percentage of all school systems in America; whose going to be able to do anything – and pay taxes – in this future America?).

The USA Today in May 2012 reported that American test scores on the science portion of the NAEP are slumping (does no one dare point out the correlation to race and the fact that more and more of American K-12 students are non-white?), which could easily have been foretold from the a simple data set available in DeKalb County: the decline of Fernbank Science Center.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

In 1967, the Fernbank Science Center opened with the goal of building science literacy through exhibits, instruction and other experiences. Visitors can view a range of taxidermy including birds and animals native to Georgia. Pythons and boa constrictors slither in display cases. Honeybees buzz around a hive. Part of the Apollo 6 space shuttle sits just across from a pictorial display of the Tuskegee Airmen. The forest serves as a living laboratory for visitors to examine flora and fauna, while the observatory is reported to have the largest telescope in the southeast. Experts in fields ranging from biology to astronomy teach DeKalb school children everything from sex education to space missions.

As one of 13 centers built in a national pilot program, the Fernbank Science Center is the only one that still exists, said a Science Center spokesperson.  Other than a nominal fee for the planetarium, entry to Fernbank Science Center is free. At its height, the center reportedly hosted more than 800,000 visitors per year. Recent estimates are closer to 160,000. Staffing has been dramatically reduced and the $4.7 million in funding is the same as it was in 2004.

Why does this matter? Science is obviously of the Stuff that Black People Don’t Like, so why not cut this museum out of DeKalb’s budget?:

Each year, about 160,000 people, many of them schoolchildren, learn about frogs, snakes, bugs and other animals and plants during visits to Fernbank Science Center. 

The decades-old institution, owned and operated by the DeKalb County public school district, has offered a hands-on education to students and other visitors from across metro Atlanta and elsewhere. However, it might close, under a recommendation Thursday by the school board’s budget committee. Fernbank Science Center, which includes a planetarium, is near the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which is operated by a separate nonprofit. 

At an annual cost of $4.7 million, the building and its 56 full-time employees now are looking like a luxury to school officials. They are struggling with a $73 million deficit, and may have to cut teachers and school days to balance the budget.

 No, Mr. Hubble, it’s only the white man that dares explore the universe. Within 40 years of assuming political power in the city of Atlanta, and creating this most radical affirmative action programs and minority contracting regulations in America (thereby inviting all Black professionals to flock to the metro area as part of the Black Gold Rush), Black people are on the verge of crippling an entire region.

DeKalb County, on paper one of the top counties for Black people in America. But when you actually try and read that paper, it crumbles like sand in your hand.

Just like Prince Georges County.



Stuff Black People Don't Like (formerly has moved to!
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