The New Historic West End of Atlanta

I'm writing this while sitting in a coffee shop in the West End of Atlanta. There are a lot of things that are typically uncharacteristic in this sentence. First of all, I don't usually leave the house since my unemployment, but I resigned myself to the fact that I had to get back to the city once again and do so I have. I'm happy with my decision and I'll say why later. The other reason weird thing about that sentence is that there is apparently a coffee shop in the West End of Atlanta. It's not exactly something that you hear about all that often.

Gentrification is happening across this shabby corner of the city, but it's happening in a weird sort of way. Friends have been warning me about the coming of the white folk who will pounce upon this region so close to downtown and desperate for fixer-uppers and yet I'm sitting in this coffee shop and I'm seeing an interesting cross section of Negros. The blipster, the faux thug, the new buppie, the older professor. The Obamas may be moving into the White House but my people are experiencing a prominence that's still enlightening to see every time I run across it.

A West End that was in shambles when I first came here for college now has towering lofts and condos. It has sandwich shops and upscale salons. The black middle class is populating this area like never before, much to the welcome chagrin of my cautious, white seeking friends. We've never been so happy to be wrong about this notion. It's been getting rather tiring to talk about gentrification. But, in a sense, it's still happening.

I've had friends (usually white) tell me about how race is seeing less relevance, if it were even relevant all that much in the first place. I'm still reticent to believe what they say has any bearing, but I will agree with them that the primary struggle in America is less so the one of race but more so the one of economics. A black middle class is steadily rising and running as fast as it can from the black lower class. I'm sitting in a coffee shop and I can't even remember what was in this location two years ago. It's a bit of a shock to say.

I say this because the city is beneath my feet. I say this with eyes open but unfortunately, with a shorter memory than I thought I had. If we could open our eyes and take note of the black lower class that could really use these black owned businesses to employ and support the ever-changing community that surrounds them, perhaps the race can see mobility like never before. It's already well on that road.


Anonymous said…
yea i always respected that about atlanta black professionals. it could be a real black/ african city. i havent been to atl in years but i would like to see what you are talking about. there is a small area here in new orleans where more black businesses are popping up. i am always happy to frequent areas like this. black coffee shops are great. i find myself in need of a coffee shop in order to venture out of my house. a good vibe is needed and that is rare. congrats on graduating.
Anonymous said…
A new movie industry is growing right there in your "hood". It's called "Lantawood" Check it our at
Anonymous said…
New Historic West End has even new website and private security service run by residents who are fighting the crime. West End is changing very quick....

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