The South must rise, again!

Southern Dallas must rise again to undo historical damage and provide real equity to its residents, who have become apathetic and disengaged due to a lack of action, and must realize their power to make change. The post The South must rise, again! appeared first on Dallas Examiner.

The South must rise, again!

(Special to The Dallas Examiner) – The South will rise again! Simply typing the phrase resurrects memories of my days at Southern Methodist University, staring at the two-story tall confederate flag hanging from the roof of the Kappa Alpha house during Old South Week and watching the KA’s yell that old rallying cry from the steps of the Umphrey Lee Student Center. It takes me back to being an 18-year-old sophomore standing with 19 of my peers and shutting down that racist celebration forever.

My blood roils because “The South will rise again” is the well-worn battle cry of white supremacists still longing for a day when people of color are again permanently relegated to inferior status. But bear with me.

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The South must, indeed, rise again. I refer not to the treasonous slave-holding states of the Confederacy, but to the vast, diverse communities of Southern Dallas: Oak Cliff, South Dallas, Pleasant Grove and Mountain Creek, comprised of all the little city of Dallas neighborhoods that lie south of Interstate-30. These, the most topographically beautiful areas of this city, have been systematically relegated to second-class status for decades, for generations. The treatment of southern Dallas perfectly illustrates the term “dissed.” Disregarded, disenfranchised, dismissed, disrespected. The results of this consistent disregard are exactly as expected: too many citizens who have become apathetic and disengaged, convinced that nothing can or will change. There is a dangerous level of apathy, a lingering feeling of “nothing will change, so why bother” that permeates the minds of too many residents. It is reflected in a tendency to complain about many things, while doing little to change things.

The disengagement is palpable, often reflected in the speech of residents. Let something negative happen, and social media will erupt with, “What did you expect? It’s Oak Cliff.” We have let others define us, rather than defining ourselves. When residents have become so inculcated with the negative messages about their own community, then the rot eventually erodes pride, and with that goes the energy to improve quality of life. In East Texas, where I’m from, we say it’s a poor dog that won’t wag its own tail. This pervasive negative message about southern Dallas is the tail wagging the dog.

Yet unlike the never-to-return Confederacy, southern Dallas can and must rise again. It is a matter of realizing the power that lies herein. Complaining does nothing to rectify any situation unless followed by action. Even the Bible, in James 2:14-26, notes that “Faith without works is dead.” Only when enough residents of this vast area, approximately 60% of the landmass of this city, realize the enormous power that they have, and decide to collectively rise up to force the city to undo historical damage and provide real equity, will these inequities change.

The problems of the southern sector are more about perception than reality. Are there pockets of crime and poverty? Yes, of course there are, just as there are in North Dallas, East Dallas, Plano, Richardson and any other area the size of Metropolitan Atlanta.

It’s time for a revolution in Dallas. Those who live south of I-30 are justifiably frustrated and angry, blaming North Dallas for all their troubles, but it’s important to realize that there is blame enough to go around. Like many others, I once thought that our municipal government would do right by us. I couldn’t conceive of any reason that would not happen. Now I realize that most of the ills of southern Dallas are the direct result of deleterious policies implemented by city staff, ratified by elected officials who do not always work in our best interests and quietly accepted by citizens.

The answer is to make educated votes based on research of the candidates and their backgrounds. Voting for someone merely because of their social connections often results in the election of those who have no commitment to the community they represent. Likewise, voting for someone only because they are of the same race or ethnicity, may well backfire. The proof of this is evident in the election of the present mayor. If those who feel betrayed because he switched parties had only done a little research, they would be neither surprised nor angry.

There were myriad reasons why Dallas was largely bypassed by the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, but it is not too late. The mascot of South Oak Cliff High School is a bear, and the city of Dallas has poked this bear for far too long. This time, they poked too hard, and the bear woke up, and she woke up angry and ready to fight back.

Southern Dallas, rise up!

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