Once upon a time I was a Business Feasibility Specialist. My, that sounds impressive; I am almost impressed with myself-but then again, not quite. The job consisted of moving nothing more challenging than my brain synapses and my mouse finger.
The goal obviously was to analyze regions for possible business expansion. To do that, you need good information on demographics: who lives there, how much money do they make, how educated are they, etc., etc.
So while statistics are pretty darn boring, I do remember being so shocked by some statistics that I had to interrupt my office mate’s mouse clicking.
“This can’t be right!”
“Zipcode XYZ has a median income of $160,000 and the next door zip code XYX has a median income of $11,500.”
Send me the link. “Click, click, click” came the sounds of my office mate working.
“Yes, that’s right. Zipcode XYX is all college students and black people. XYZ is professors, medical professionals and administrators.”
And so I have that boring job to thank for the ability to be emotionally moved by statistics. That large city, like large cities all over America, was really two cities. If you just took the AVERAGE income and poverty levels, it would seem pretty “normal.” But if you tease out the truth by zip code a different picture emerges: American Bantustans.
Now I live In Georgia and I’m working on a modest program to get my books into the hands of low-income children. If I look at the region in big bites, well, good old South Georgia looks all right. But I have eyes, I see the shacks, I see the people living under the bridge, and besides I lived in Bantustan for three years as a missionary.
Between polite, white society and Bantustan is a great gulf fixed. I remember one Christmas a nice rich white lady picked me up to deliver presents to ‘my’ kids. As we drove down the road, her children pressed their noses to the car window, like tourists on safari, “Are we going to see REAL poor people?” they asked, horribly embarrassing their mom, who really was a nice lady.
Here is what I found about our little corner of the world. Can you spot the Bantustans? Can you see where I want to go to the first grades, read stories and give the kids a book of their own to take home? (You can donate to this little project if you wish. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)