Hoover, Martini’s and the Black Undertow: White America Needs Clarence the Angel

The Black Undertow Effect; no community, no city, and no county can escape from this phenomenon.

In the absence of good men…

You’ve probably seen It’s a Wonderful Life — recall when George Bailey gets to see a version of Bedford Falls sans his influence (where he had never been born). A city he had worked hard to hold together became Pottersville in absence; where families, commerce, and community flourished before, now only vice was found as Bailey traversed the city streets of a town his life never touched.

A powerful scene during Bailey’s momentary existence in Pottersville is when he goes to the bar Nick’s Place, a seedy establishment that replaced the beloved watering-hole Martini’s which he had helped grow through offering loans from the Bailey Brother’s Building and Loan.

It’s a reminder of the powerful contributions of one person — for better or worse.

Let the name “Martini’s” stick in your mind as we talk about Hoover, Alabama — a once thriving, all-white suburb of Birmingham (indeed, it was basically white people rebuilding the city they vacated and left to black rule), Hoover was 95 percent white in 1990; 87 percent white in 2000; and 72 percent white in 2010. The black population has grown from 3% to 6% to 15 % of the population in that time period.

Previously, murder and crime was only known to the white residents of Hoover by reading the reading pages of The Birmingham News or watching to Fox, NBC, ABC, or CBS affiliates in Birmingham; today, the Black Undertow has brought with them the same type of black dysfunction that the white Hooverites tried to escape [Hoover Police identify victims in Martini’s shooting, Birmingham News, 12-22-12]:

HOOVER, Alabama–Police have released the names of the victims Friday night shooting inside of Martini’s Ultra Lounge that left two people dead.

Monterio Alonzo Peebles-Kellogg, 19, and 20-year-old Lakenya Chanise Moton were killed after a shooter entered the club located at 2132 Lorna Ridge Lane, according to Cpt. Jim Coker of the Hoover Police Department. Both victims were Birmingham residents.

Police received a call at midnight, said Coker.

A second female, 20, was also injured and treated at UAB Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A suspect was taken into custody around sunrise by U.S. Marshals and there is no threat to the general public, according to Coker.

Police have not released a motive, but the suspect may have known the victims, he said.

“This was no random act,” Coker said.

The fate of the nightclub would have to be discussed by the chief of police and elected officials, Coker said.

“It’s been about two-and-a-half years since we’ve had a homicide in Hoover that wasn’t traffic related,” he said.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

 Phillip Terral Player, a black male, gunning down Monterio and Lakenya in Hoover, Alabama; Birmingham is now in the midst of a city that was created out of the vast wilderness surrounding the metropolitan area so as to insulate whites from the mayhem of every day black life in the Magic City.

The joys of the Black Undertow…

The Black Undertow Effect in action.

And to think: The Birmingham News recently cheered the changing racial demographics in Hoover and other once all-white suburbs of Birmingham [Birmingham changes as blacks move to the suburbs, Birmingham News, 3-27-2011]:

A demographic fault line divides the two-county core of metro Birmingham.
A Birmingham News analysis of 2010 Census numbers reveals two major patterns of city change on either side.

To the north are the shrinking cities. They form a strip of towns from Birmingham to Bessemer that lost population, both white and black, in the past decade. Those nine cities lost 20 percent of their white population and 12 percent of their black population from 2000 to 2010, a total loss of nearly 40,000 residents.

To the south are the growing cities — a blanket of towns stretching from the top of Red Mountain in Jefferson County to the far reaches of Shelby County.

Those 17 cities all had growing black populations in the decade, and growing or stable white populations.

“Those are dramatic differences in a relatively small area,” said Eric Fournier, a professor of geography at Samford University. “We’re talking about two places maybe 10 or 15 miles apart with huge differences.

“One place may be focusing on how to handle huge booms in population and traffic,” he said. “The other is dealing with emptying cities, overbuilt infrastructure, declining budgets.”

Those dramatic differences make regional cooperation much more complex. “The mayor of Fairfield doesn’t have much to say to the mayor of Alabaster, because they have such different challenges,” Fournier said.

Rosie O’Beirne, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said metro Birmingham’s pattern matches the national trend of increasing diversity in the suburbs.

“It’s really middle-class flight, not black flight or white flight,” O’Beirne said. “Historically blacks and whites have been segregated in Birmingham, and a lot of that had to do with racism. We’re in an era where racial ideology doesn’t have the same effect as it once did. You have a rising middle-class population.”

Latarsha Clark is one of those who has left Birmingham to make a new home in the Rocky Ridge area near Hoover and Vestavia Hills. On a recent Friday, while shopping in Alabaster, she said she couldn’t be happier with the change.

“We love the area and the schools,” she said.

Clark’s 9-year-old son, Cordarrius Anderson, is thriving at Gresham Elementary School, where, Clark said, the teachers work one-on-one with the children. “I love it,” she said.

 Latarsha Clark loves the area of Hoover because white people have created an environment where community and commerce thrive; where Latarsha fled from is just another city where black people have created an environment where community and commerce represent just another form of “white privilege” that black people are incapable of creating or sustaining.

Once enough black people have moved to Hoover and re-created the very conditions of 2012 Birmingham in this once lily-white (and crime-free city), Latarsha Clark will be looking for another community to migrate too.

The schools will once again resemble the 98 percent black Birmingham Public School (BPS) system; payday loan and Title Pawn stores will replace all the shuttered businesses forced to close in the absence of white people, replaced with a population dependent on WIC/EBT and TANF/Welfare; and, of course, the property value of privates homes will collapse, regressing to the mean created by black home buyers — a reflection of the type of community they create.

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In Barnett Wright’s book 1963: How the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement Changed America and the World, he writes:
On January 1, 1964, The Birmingham news published a nearly 6,000 word front-page editorial reflecting on the “Trials and Blessings of 1963,” in which the newspaper asked future generations:
“Did the older folks make the tough but right decisions in 1963 – did they carry them out in year after year that followed? Did we serve you youngsters – our children – by putting you ahead of our personal wishes or prejudices or desire? Did we pay the price for your future?
Fifty year later, the verdict is in.
Since 1963, Birmingham has elected four black mayors, appointed three black police chiefs, and installed seven black school superintendents. Still, much work remains to be in the city according to Edward Shannon LaMonte – retired Birmingham Southern College professor – and others.
“Prejudice and social injustice still exist in this city, and they play a role in terms of the opportunities people enjoy today,” said Jefferson County Circuit Judge Helen Shores Lee. “Jim Crow laws may not exist anymore, but the spirit of Jim Crow is alive and well, primarily due to institutional racism, which often make it difficult for us [sic] recognize it and root it out.

Birmingham today is 74 percent black; the Birmingham City Council, when they weren’t banning Title Loan or Payday Stores from opening in the city, was entertaining Trayvon Martin’s parents and making him an honorary citizen.

It was in 2010 that Winnie Mandela, longtime bride to known Communist Nelson Mandela, compared the struggle in Birmingham to the struggle against Apartheid rule in South Africa.

Birmingham today is a glimpse of Hoover tomorrow.

Phillip Terral Player, a black male, gunning down Monterio and Lakenya at Martini’s in Hoover is a reminder of the Black Undertow Effect.

This must end; this will end.

George Bailey was going to commit suicide when Clarence (an angel) intervened, allowing Bailey the chance to see a version of Bedford Falls without his influence. It is this line that cuts to the heart of the film:

Clarence: You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?

It is this line that white people in not just Hoover, but throughout America and throughout the entire Western World must contemplate on Christmas Eve, 2012; those who came before enabled us to have a wonderful life — don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?

Embrace “white privilege” and pass it on to your children; for it’s the privilege of having the ability to live in a community; a city; a civilization — as opposed to watching a city like Birmingham fall into the darkness from which the light of civilization is extinguished.

ABC 33/40 – Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

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