The worst is over, but the damage has been done. As Atlanta slowly returns to normal, citizens and city officials continue to search for answers on how 2 inches of snow completely wreaked havoc on a major American city.
While Gov.Nathan Deal, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Kasim Reed and other officials in the metro Atlanta area deserve most of the blame for responding slowly to the weather, the effects from the snowstorm were rooted in the racist history that has plagued Georgia for decades.
For those who are unfamiliar with how the city is constructed, Atlanta’s metro area consists of five major counties (Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb, Clayton and Gwinnett).
Author Nathan McCall once referred to the metro Atlanta area as an island where racial progression occurs within the city limits and old Confederate-style racism still exists outside of the metro area.
One of the major reasons one million vehicles crowded Atlanta streets when snow fell was due to the city’s limited transit system, MARTA. Because of MARTA’s limited access to surrounding counties such as Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton, cars are a necessity within the city.
But it’s only that way because of racial attitudes that continue to exist. When MARTA was created in the 1970s, majority white counties voted against MARTA’s expansion partly because they likely feared that blacks from the inner city would have more access to their communities. In turn, traffic is always a hassle for those who work in the city and live in the suburbs.
But as the metro Atlanta area grew in population and popularity, the state still couldn’t find a way to expand the transit system so that more people would take public transportation instead of depending on vehicles.
In 2012, a tax called T-SPLOST would have created an $8 billion expansion to the transit system to every metro Atlanta county. But while those in the urban core supported the tax, T-SPLOST was shot down along racial lines.
Deal spoke out against T-SPLOST because he didn’t trust the way MARTA operates. But the decision to keep the metro Atlanta area segregated when it comes to public transportation has destroyed government officials and citizens in the worst way possible.
The snow debacle in Atlanta partially occurred because of the lack of planning by Georgia’s government on the morning of Jan. 24. But Georgia’s history of racism should also take blame for the chaos and national embarrassment that occurred because of 2 inches of snow.