50 Shades of grey–successful book–maybe it will work for Birmingham

When I was growing up, Birmingham was black and white.

Blacks were required to sit in the back of the bus; there were separate restrooms and water fountains for colored and white; and the schools were segregated.

As a child I had a sense that something wasn’t quite right because one day while riding on a public bus with my mom I asked if it was okay to offer my seat to a black woman.  Her response still rings in my ear.  “David, you can’t do that–someone might hurt us.”

Many years have passed and there are still folks who still think of Birmingham as black and white.

But that’s really not true today.

There are all kinds of people in Birmingham: whites, blacks, Asians, Indians, and Latinos come to mind.

And minority and foreign populations are growing rapidly.  Just walk into any metro Birmingham store and look around.

I know there are whites that would like for Alabama to remain mostly white.  But that’s not going to happen.  Holding your finger in a dike will only work for so long.

Some whites don’t want to share government with blacks.  They point to those “crooked black politicians.”

Let’s examine that one for a moment.  Four Jefferson County Commissioners were convicted or admitted to fraud:

Larry Langford (black)

Chris McNair (black)

Gary White (white)

Mary Buckelew (white)

Score tied:  Whites 2; Blacks 2

Then there are those blacks who won’t allow us to forget the past. They want us to concentrate on how the white man held them down.  Okay, so some whites are racist and so are some blacks…How does that move us forward?

Birmingham’s becoming a little less black and a little less white everyday.  Maybe we are morphing into some color of grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey was a successful book.  Maybe it will work for Birmingham.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

This entry was posted in David Sher posts, Race relations and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to 50 Shades of grey–successful book–maybe it will work for Birmingham

  1. Daniella says:

    David – your blogs are always so insightful. Even as someone who is an “outsider” of Birmingham, I love reading them.

    *

  2. Jeff Hansen says:

    *David, if you add in the sewer contractors and the bond people who have been convicted or pled guilty, the white ratio goes way up. 

    I think the important question is how much — and how willingly — we interact with people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, ages, religions and education each day or week. Are we humble towards and appreciative of each one?

  3. *I founded a music program called Scrollworks to address this issue. It provides instruments and very low cost music lessons ($50/semester) to any child in the Birmingham metro area. This spring we have 150+ children participating. Students play music, make friends (as do their parents) and, in the process, break down many of the barriers holding Birmingham back. We bring them together with music and they learn how much they have in common. (Lots of photos on our FB page.)

    It is such a struggle getting community support for this program that I sometimes despair. But if every single one of us does not take this on, the change will never happen.

  4. Tanveer Patel says:

    *David, 

    I think after Obama became President it is very clear that it was end of Racism. We start to think beyond colors. 

  5. Henry Neff says:

    David,

    In part I blame the media for this ongoing issue. When a new coach is announced and the/she happens to be African American why do the sports writers usually add the persons race to the announcement?  We are 50 years beyond the 1960’s it is time to stop making race an issue.

  6. T.K. Thorne says:

    50 Shades of Grey–and all of them beautiful!

  7. Andrew Edwards says:

    *David- you forgot at least Commissioners Katapodis and Germany.  Score is still tied: 3-3!

  8. David Cohen says:

    David,

    Who votes in a Birmingham city election?  Black, White, Asian, Hispanic?? Do the wealthy vote in Birmingham elections? Does the middle class vote?

    From reading your blog, it’s my understanding that in Birmingham the majority of voters are low-income and Black. Where do you and your readers vote? In Mountain Brook, Vestavia, and Hoover?

    Do you have a vote in Birmingham? NO!

    What’s stopping you from living in Birmingham?

    When the populace of Birmingham diversifies so will it’s leadership.

  9. Steve Hicks says:

    *David, one thing that makes your blogs so appealing is that they are short, sweet, and to the point……and make all the sense in the world.

  10. David Sher says:

    *Steve, thanks for your comments. I really do think if we can get enough people to understand our problems, we can start to make a difference.  Please encourage others to sign up for our newsletter.  http://www.thecomebacktown.com/enewsletter-sign-up/

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