During the first week of the year 2019, I had an opportunity to speak to a young African American woman (I am not sharing her name to protect her privacy) while waiting to pick up my vehicle at an auto mechanic establishment in downtown Birmingham. I asked her the following question, “If you had a magic wand that would grant you one wish to make Birmingham better, what would your wish be?” I continued, “no matter how you feel about the metropolitan area now, whether you believe it is good, bad, or great currently, the city can always be better. So what would your wish be?” Below is a summary of what she said.
The young woman said her wish would be to improve the schools in the area, especially on her side of town. She wanted the schools to teach the students life skills, especially before they went to college. She also felt that students in the “over the mountain schools” were exposed to subjects and opportunities that she had not experienced, like journalism. Just as I was ready to ask her a few more questions related to education, she continued.
She also wished to see investments made in what she described as “better housing in my community.” She desired to see upper-class African Americans return to her community, explaining there is a lack of individuals who can invest back into the neighborhoods. Then finally she wished police officers decrease the many road blocks in her area. She added that the road blocks are not stopping guns and drugs from being in the neighborhood. Instead, the road blocks cause citizens who are “trying to make it” to receive fines for low level traffic violations.
Although our conversation was brief and didn’t allow for specifics, our talk was pleasant, hopeful and constructive. The young woman offered great insight into specific components that if improved, would better the life of all Birmingham (AL) citizens. After all, we are all neighbors within this metropolis.