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Thread: The Poor Man and the Alabama Governor

  1. #1
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    The Poor Man and the Alabama Governor

    This is a redo of what I intended to post yesterday. A bit shorter. Probably better written.

    I have a love/hate relationship with the State of Alabama. It is where I am from. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Mobile. It is a state of great beauty. There are white beaches, rolling mountains, canyons, deep forests, endless lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Biologically, it is one of the most diverse States in the country. The Mobile-Tensaw delta is commonly known as “America’s Amazon” for its richness. Alabama is a place of rich though oftentimes very dark history. Flags of five nations have flown over my home city. Alabama is the birthplace of American Mardi Gras and other traditions that go back centuries. That is where my love of the State begins to end.

    Alabama is also the place where George Wallace, who famously stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama, remained Governor until 1989. 1989! It is a State where people care so much about football they kill people and poison trees over it. It is the State, where in 2003, the Chief Justice Roy Moore was impeached for refusing to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments he had erected at the Montgomery courthouse. In 2011 our impeached Chief Justice was reelected to his position after being financially backed by the neo-Confederate with ties to a white supremacist group, Michael Peroutka. In 2014 our Chief Justice then garnered national attention by closing county clerk’s offices rather than allow gays to get married. He continues to have statewide support. It is a place where Confederate heritage reigns supreme and progress dies.

    So, I was thrilled last week when the city of Birmingham voted to increase its minimum wage by three dollars over the next several years. Alabama remains one of the poorest States in the nation. The State’s poverty rates however are heavily disproportionate across racial lines. Alabama’s poorest county, Wilcox County, has a poverty rate of 50.2% for blacks but just 8.8% for whites. In Lowndes County the poverty rate is 4.1% for whites but 34.5% for blacks. The poverty of Black Americans in Alabama's Black Belt is rivaled only by the Delta region of Mississippi. So, the news out of Birmingham was great news. It was progress.

    It was short lived.

    On Thursday, in response to the Birmingham city council’s vote, Governor Robert Bentley signed into law a bill that blocked cities from raising the minimum wage. This setback is another setback in a long line of setbacks under Bentley’s administration. Last year thirty-one DMVs were shut down due to Alabama’s budget crisis. There are only four left in the State and all in the States major metro areas leaving the State’s impoverished rural poor with little recourse in getting something as simple as an identification. Coupled with Alabama’s voter ID laws this leaves rural Alabama blacks some of the most underrepresented citizens in the country. Now, their governor has made the way out of poverty even harder and they have no recourse. They have no vote.

    It is a damn shame that the descendants of slaves and sharecroppers, the people who built the South, are still marginalized by their government. The people who fought harder for their rights than any other group in American history now find they are losing them again. They will see no pay raise. They will see no Medicaid expansion. They will see no help as history turns its page on them and we forget. Robert Bentley has provided another road block in the face of progress, in the face of what is right.

    Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with my home but the hate is starting to win out.
    Last edited by ThePaganMafia; 01 Mar 2016 at 00:13.

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