How a Rich, White Community Is Attempting to Leave a Black City Through a Ballot Referendum

The city of Stockbridge, part of the Atlanta metro area, is rapidly diversifying: In 2017, the city elected its first black mayor and first all-black city council, and has been named one of the top 10 places to live for African Americans. But because nothing intimidates white people more than the success of black people, the city is now bracing for a strange, despicable form of white flight: The Atlantic’s City Lab reports that “rather than moving,” the wealthy, gated country club community of Eagle’s Landing—which exists within Stockbridge—“are standing their ground, and building new municipal borders around their mansions and fortresses.”

A disturbing ballot referendum will determine the fate of Stockbridge without input from its own residents. CityLab reports:

The Eagle’s Landing plan seeks to merge into its boundaries the primest real estate and wealthiest households from the city of Stockbridge, leaving behind a smaller, mostly African American population with fewer resources to pay for Stockbridge city services. The Eagle’s Landing city proposal will be voted on via ballot referendum on November 6, but Stockbridge residents who live outside the Eagle’s Landing footprint—the people who will be most hampered by the division—are not eligible to vote on it. Meanwhile, neither lawsuits nor letters from global finance agencies warning that the proposal could wreck economies across Georgia have been able to stop it.

If Eagle’s Landing gets its way, this would reduce the voting power of Stockbridge’s black residents:

Taking half of Stockbridge, as Eagle’s Landing plans, would not only leave Stockbridge with a less wealthy population, but also with a black population with weakened voting power. Right now, African Americans are just over 57 percent of the voting-age population in Stockbridge—a clear-cut majority. If Eagle’s Landing were to form, it would take a third of Stockbridge’s population along with it, including a nice chunk of Stockbridge’s black residents. In that scenario, African-American voting power would be reduced such that they wouldn’t constitute a majority of voters in either the new city of Eagle’s Landing nor the old city of Stockbridge. Meanwhile, the white voting-age public would see its voting power rise in both cities.

All of this, because the rich white residents of Eagle’s Landing want a fucking Cheesecake Factory nearby. And Cheesecake Factory won’t come to Stockbridge right now, in part because the median income of the area is too low.

“I kept seeing all of these places like Bojangle’s, Waffle Houses, dollar stores, and all this going up in our county,” Vicki Consiglio, chair of the Committee for the City of Eagle’s Landing, told City Lab. “And I was like, why can’t we get a Cheesecake Factory, or a P.F. Chang’s or a Houston’s? We have areas that have high incomes, so what’s the deal?” The only way, however, to lure Cheesecake Factory to Eagle’s Landing is to incorporate it into a city, Consiglio says.

In May, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed two assembly bills that allowed Eagle’s Landing to redraw its district lines and another that put the creation of a city up to its residents on a ballot referendum in November.

“What’s at stake now is whether Stockbridge could even continue to function if the Eagle’s Landing ballot is successful,” CityLab reports, noting that the proposal could “claim nearly a third of Stockbridge’s population” and “more than half of Stockbridge’s total assessed property value,” slashing its revenue by half. All of this so white people can eat at a Cheesecake Factory.

Read the full report here.

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