Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm Not White Flight

Twenty-five years ago I moved to a house on the Rankin County Reservoir. I don't call it the "Ross Barnett" Reservoir because it embarrasses me he was ever governor much less naming anything permanent after him.

My original thought was that it would be really cool to live on the water and the only places like that in Jackson were triple my price range and situated on pretty pitiful ponds. At the time there were about nine or ten houses on my street and most of the land around us was pine forests. At the time, nobody thought the white-flight from the public schools might eventually lead to people moving out of Jackson all together.

I never particularly had a problem with the concept of living around black people. My parents were pretty liberal and I knew a lot of black folks so it never really crossed my mind. I liked the idea of semi-rural living though and the area I was moving to was pretty undeveloped.

What I didn't know at the time was I was just a couple years ahead of a mass migration of white people out of Jackson into Madison and Rankin counties. Pretty soon the pine forests around me were clear-cut and turned into middle-class and working-class homes. My street went from mostly empty lots to no empty lots and commercial real-estate produced store after store and eventually a sprawling mall on both sides of Lakeland Drive.

I never thought of myself as being part of the white-flight movement, but here I sit in the middle of thousands of white-flight refugees from Jackson. The only bright spot in this development is the refugees aren't all white. There are a lot of middle-class and working-class black folks out here was well, far more than similar developments in Madison county.

My heart was always with Jackson though, and I'll always consider myself a Jackson boy. Some people say I should move back to the city and I've given it a lot of thought. I still like being on the water though, and I hate moving, so we'll see what happens. This isn't the trip I signed up for though. I'm not white-flight, although I do find myself in the middle of many who are. Either way, I'm not all that happy about the way things turned out.

1 comment:

Bowcatz said...

Until Jackson's crime rate goes dramatically down, I would stay on the Reservoir, if I were you.

I am a white woman who lives in West Jackson and the crime is terrible around here.

Armed robberies are common. Too dangerous to take a walk, if you're alone. Illegal juke joint at the top of the hill with the sounds of angry folks cursing each other really brings me down often. Loose, large dangerous dogs roaming the neighborhoods is common, too. If I could, I would leave Jackson, MS and never come back. At this time, I can't.