June 16, 2010

Hopelessly devoted

By Elisa | 12 Comments »

I am feeling a bit disheartened folks.  I know you are probably getting sick of Anna and I saying this and bitching, but this is the way it is here.

The two issues that I care most about, transportation and food, are some of the areas that Birmingham ranks last in.  That is saddening in it’s own right, but occasionally I will feel like I am the only person who gives a damn.  That is not true, I have friends who care, but our voices just don’t seem loud enough.

Sunday’s Birmingham News had a story on food insecurity on the front page; a great article talking about the lack of fresh, healthy food access in lower income areas.  I was hopeful, the word was spreading-maybe more people would care!  Then I see this tweet:

“What you’re saying: Little sympathy for complaints of inner-city food buyers http://bit.ly/bRt7i0″

Friends, I read this and literally cried (at a coffee shop).  It is just another example of our city’s contentment with the status quo.  If you read the comments on any article on cycling it is more of the same.  Saying that the poor should get it together and get out of the way.  That the circumstances leading up to this are their fault.  Absolutely no sympathy or acknowledgment that this could be a systemic issue.

Needless to say, I had an existential crisis, wondering what on earth I am doing with my life and if it is a fruitless effort.  The good news is that if I am anything, it is hopeful.  I will stay and fight, and push those voices out of my head.  They are all morons, that is a fact.  What gets me is that these morons voices seem to be the consensus. Sometimes I dream of living somewhere that already fought this battle. Where people give a shit and the government has their heads pulled from their asses.

Alas, there will always be battles to fight and morons with their heads planted firmly in their asses.  I will continue to shut them out and trudge ahead.

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  1. On June 16th, 2010 chiggins said:

    There’s a David Foster Wallace piece about the qualifying rounds of a major tennis tournament and people that play in them, and he spends a fair amount of time with one of the pros.

    One of the things he finds remarkable is how good this person is at shutting down any lines of thought that aren’t beneficial to his performance.

    My unsolicited advice: keep doing what you’re doing, soak up the encouragement you get, and stay out of newspaper comment sections. They’re made of poison.

    A significant number of folks that came before you won’t ever get it, but the ones looking up to you now will.

  2. On June 16th, 2010 ha1ku said:

    I once saw a report (televised or in print, I don’t recall) many years ago about how fast food corporations focused on the lower-income neighborhoods. I think it’s true. For reasons that I don’t understand, these businesses believe there’s a buck to made there. The greater good, it seems, is not the top priority for big business.

    In the end, I believe we consumers have to express what is important to us by spending our dollars in a manner that communicates our beliefs. Even if it hurts us a little, penny-wise. After all, McHardees, Taco King, and even BExPaco are all relying on the lure of “convenience” to keep earning our dollars.

  3. On June 16th, 2010 Kymba said:

    I know what you feel, it’s something that’s got me feeling hopeless when I try to promote humanitarian laws and get people aware that corporations are benefiting from the status quo while they harm us (and blah blah blah) – I have a feeling that humanity, kindness, gay rights, environmental gains and production sacrifices won’t have a chance until the most selfish generation in the world dies off, frankly. They’re old and mean, and they outnumber everyone who follows; equal rights were fine in their youth, but when the boomers grew up they became the most die-hard cement-headed change-fearing curmudgeons ever. And here’s a related sentiment which isn’t quite so cruel:

    Americans have spread out to places where mass transit is inefficient because densities are too low. The alternatives are bicycles, carpools and telecommuting. Could it be done? Certainly. Will it be done? Not until we have a disaster that affects every American, in particular those over 55. ”

    – Larry Littlefield In response to “The Moral Imperative of the BP Oil Spill: Drive 20 Percent Less”


  4. On June 16th, 2010 Richard said:

    This is your 16th Street Baptist Church. Keep fighting.

  5. On June 17th, 2010 Aaron said:

    Be encouraged!


    That is exciting, at least. You may not be able to change everyone, however. It’s good that you’re fighting this fight, but I think it is also good that you are questioning your motives and whether this is a good use of your time/energy. Cycling and food are glorious things, but when we make anything ‘the ultimate thing,’ it will inevitably let us down. I can elaborate on this more if you want, but perhaps not here. Contact me if you’d like.

  6. On June 17th, 2010 Steve A said:

    Elisa, I think you need to watch “Gone With the Wind” again, particularly the scene where Scarlett eats those beets and exclaims “As God is my witness, …”

    That lady had almost as much spunk as you do.

  7. On June 18th, 2010 spiderleggreen said:

    We have the same cretins who comment in our papers. They’re just trying to get you down. Don’t succumb to their disease!

  8. On June 19th, 2010 Annie said:

    Hi, I’m a new visitor to your blog from the Twin Cities – keep up the good fight.

    (And come up here often for Summer Relief! We ride bikes like there’s no tomorrow.)

    About those battles that have been fought? We still have to fight them – and refight them – Michelle Bachman, anyone?

    Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes harder, but YOU get stronger and find the sweetness in life that you need.

  9. On June 19th, 2010 David said:

    Those commenters live largely over the mountain, in Hoover and beyond; they hate everything about Birmingham, as if Birmingham doesn’t play a large part in defining their pathetic Shangri-las.
    I, for one, was encouraged that the article was written in the first place, and only wish that she had made the connection to JVUF..

  10. On June 20th, 2010 2whls3spds said:

    Keep on fighting!
    I see the disparity everywhere I go, however it does seem worse in the Deep South.

    I avoid comment section at newspapers and television websites, all it does is serve to piss me off and I am not a good person to be around when pissed off…


  11. On June 20th, 2010 Charles said:

    Your work is not in vain. And I’m not sure that the commenters on that article really are the consensus or the majority; they’re just loud.

    That article was most likely the first time that many people in metro Birmingham had ever heard of food deserts, which in itself is a move in the right direction.

  12. On October 30th, 2010 Adelaide said:

    So, I realize that my response to this post is about 4 months late, but I felt compelled to comment anyhow. I strongly sympathize with your efforts to better the ‘ham, and I am attempting to do the same, but in a slightly different arena. Also, I have many of these existential crises, too.

    Lately, I have been challenging myself to leave my righteousness “at the door” (the door of b’ham, I guess?), and utilize “status-quo” comments as a way to create learning moments for people who seem not to care. I’m learning that a lot of times their comments are coming from a very disconnected viewpoint, and when supplied with non-confrontational, factual, and real-life info, they aren’t all terrible assholes after all.

    Yes, there are some genuine, over-privileged assholes out there, BUT there are lots of folk who just need to be guided to a non-”over-the-mountain” way of looking at things. Furthermore, because you are seen as “credible” based on your skin color, socioeconomic status, and maybe a few other things, you can provide a voice for those citizens of B’ham that society renders voiceless.

    Even though it’s so challenging, this is a beautiful thing, and you are doing an amazing job. You inspire me!

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