Politics are a put-off
I think that the inherent racism, the lack of culture and the conservative views are part of what drives people out of this area. Even if they don't leave Tennessee, they at least flee to larger metro areas where there is more cultural diversity, more options for cultural entertainment and less conservatism.
Personally, I would have left the area after graduate school, but I had a parent with dementia and I had responsibilities here. I still have family responsibilities here, so we stay. However, we frequently leave the area for entertainment, dining and just to experience some diversity. So, the TRI really is losing out on a lot of my disposable income in that sense.
The turnout for the TRI Pride parade last year did give me some hope for the area. I hope this year's event will be even better. However, as long as we're arguing over who has the right version of god, celebrating systemic racism with school mascots that still sport rebel flags, passing legislation that prevents environmental efforts (the state legislation on a city not being able to ban plastic bags), and state representatives who say they can find no evil in the rape of a 15-year-old girl, we'll struggle.
Be more inclusive
While the question, “How do we grow our population?” is complex with many factors, there is one that is very obvious to me. We are exclusive. We still are struggling with the history of Washington County being rural. It is both urban and rural. Yet, in Washington County Commission meetings, it is obvious the two different economies pull against each other rather than work for solutions that benefit both.
Then, there is the history of ignoring the communities of color that are small percentages of the population. When one enters offices of community and/or governmental organizations, very little inclusivity is observed, especially in decision-making positions. I know that in the black community, they struggle to find retail commodities that fit their needs. Furthermore the lack of visual inclusivity discourages a move to our area.
Our history does not speak well of us in the area of inclusivity. It took 20 years to name a thoroughfare in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Langston High School lay fallow for over 50 years. The 1969 time capsule didn’t even mention integration.
Our leadership and government practice exclusivity. An example is using the “good ole boy” system as one of the practices. Personally, I scratch my head wondering why a husband/wife situation now exists with their influence in critical economic decisions.
We have a potentially distinguished School of Medicine. I question who pulls the strings on its growth, Ballad Health or ETSU? How balanced are decisions for benefitting all three institutions?
Inclusivity is the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who are members of minority groups.
Economic entities are well aware of the beauty of our region. They are also quite aware of how we “do business.”
REV. ED WOLFF
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