Do you suffer from NIMBY? One Ohio community does.
A lily-white Ohio suburb is doing everything it can, including risking millions in federal highway funding, to keep mostly minority bus-riders from a nearby city from entering their community.
The showdown began in 2010 when the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority proposed adding three new bus stops in Beavercreek, a largely white suburb 15 minutes east of Dayton. These new stops would give Dayton bus-riders access to Beavercreek’s major shopping mall and nearby businesses, as well as a medical clinic and Wright State University.
Facing the prospect of buses coming in from Dayton, the Beavercreek City Council began enacting as many hurdles as they could to stop the new bus stops. Among the dozen roadblocks included mandating that bus shelters included heated and air conditioning as well as high-tech surveillance cameras, features that would be hugely expensive and are not common at other stops. Unsurprisingly, these demands couldn't be met and the council rejected the expansion. “We turned downed an application because they didn't meet our (design) criteria,” Beavercreek City Councilman Scott Hadley explained to Eye On Ohio.
Many in the area argue that their opposition boils down to a simple reason: race. According to the 2010 census, 9 in 10 Beavercreek residents are white, but 73 percent of those who ride the Dayton RTA buses are minorities. “I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group said. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”
A civil rights group in the area, Leaders for Equality in Action in Dayton (LEAD), soon filed a discrimination lawsuit against Beavercreek under the Federal Highway Act. In June, the Federal Highway Administration ruled that Beavercreek’s actions were indeed discriminatory and ordered them to work with the Dayton Regional Transit Authority to get the bus stops approved without delay.
Beavercreek, though, isn’t particularly keen to do that. The city council voted most recently on Friday to put off consideration of the matter until later this month. They are weighing whether to appeal the federal ruling, or perhaps whether to just defy it altogether. Appealing the ruling could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, according to a Washington D.C. lawyer the council hired. However, non-compliance with the ruling could cost Beavercreek tens of millions of dollars in federal highway funds.
The city council has until September 11, 2013 to begin complying with the Federal Highway Administration order. They will meet again on August 12 to decide how to proceed.
Gresham, for one, is flabbergasted that the council would even consider risking millions of dollars in federal highway funds. “Their worldview and logic are two entirely separate things,” he said.
How do you keep from not being pissed off when you write about a story like this -occurring in America in the year 2013? I wonder if Don Lemon, Iylana Vansant , Michael Steele, Ron Christi, Clarence Tomas, Allen West, Juan Williams - to name a few - think that this is ok in America today? Think that this is not racism in its purest form.
Racism can be coded in many ways, it can be covered up as voter fraud, it can be a self-defense claim to a hooded African American teen toting Skittles and a Arizona iced tea. Birthers come to mind as coded racists, those opposing the Ground Zero Mosque qualify as coded racists and Arizona's anti-immigration law is coded racism.
Nobody likes to be called a racist, especially when they are one. Well, almost nobody, but nobody who wishes to be taken seriously by the general public.
The NIMBY problem arises when the aversion to racism causes us to become willfully blind to racist practices around us. When confronted, racists are more likely to explain their ignorance away, rather than simply admit that they might not be so perfect at being ..... “non-racists”.
I’m a particular fan of the way that Stewart Lee characterized it: “…if political correctness has achieved one thing, it’s to make the Conservative party cloak its inherent racism behind more creative language.” Of course we can substitute “Conservative party” with “general public” in most cases. We live in a racist society, and nobody is immune from the subtle voice of cultural indoctrination whispering in our ears.
Given this lack of immunity, the only tools we have to combat the effects of racism are self-awareness and intellectual courage. However, it seems that we prefer instead to use a lexicon that allows coded racists to continue their racist behavior - you know, without them seeming racist. This is referred to as ‘coded racism’, those with racist ideologies that are carefully designed not to appear racist.
This blogger has said often, it is only by having the courage and integrity to confront our own ideas and motivations that we can identify and eliminate this kind of verbal cloaking. Being able to identify racism and being unafraid to call it out for what it is - is the first step to ameliorating the problem. Failure to do so will only serve to keep us looking the other way, to the detriment of racial minority groups in perpetuity.