In 1992, in the oldest housing projects in the nation, women – mostly Black, mostly single, mostly lacking “enough” financial resources – would instigate the most controversial and dramatic change to the city’s economic and social development. This development and the questions that arise from it are parts of the reason why I decided create the film ‘The Atlanta Way,’ a film about the gentrification of Atlanta over the last few decades and its role in the evolution of the city.
What is it you say? Could the removal of housing projects be seen as an attack on the black woman and black families? Now I must say it wasn’t I who came up with this estimation, rather Georgia State sociology professor Dr. Deirdre Oakley, one of the many subjects in the film excerpt above. It was during one of our “in-between periods” when the question was asked could gentrification in Atlanta be seen as an attack, rather a systematic effort to remove poor black women or, at the very least, an issue only affecting black women?
Historically speaking, welfare programs, housing subsidies and other government aid programs in the U.S. have been used (though non-exclusively) to aid women typically non-married living in public housing projects. And in the case of Atlanta it would be primarily women fighting on both sides of the issue.
It would seem as if the housing projects of Atlanta , the catalysts for change in my city and in the film are more or less the bastions for poor black women. If we make the argument that public housing works, is it because the system works or the people who live within that system make it work? If it is a war on the poor as Dr. Oakley states in the clip, could it be a better assertion that gentrification is a war on black women and families since these are the people mostly comprising these gentrified public housing products?
Or is it a necessary shift in the growth of a major city? One would be naive to ignore the atrocities that go on in these housing projects. To be a cheerleader to the continual presence of them would be to disregard the complacency it breeds in its residents, as many are generations-long inhabitants.
This film explores those dynamics…and more.
Director, The Atlanta Way