Alabama: A great State unless you are black, gay, or Hispanic

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore

I recently wrote a piece, “Birmingham punished for being in Alabama,” where I pointed out that job growth in Birmingham and around the state has been relatively flat while other cities in the South are flourishing.

Our Birmingham-Hoover seven county metropolitan area has fewer people working now than we did at the beginning of the recession.

I regularly blame Birmingham’s lack of job growth on too many competing governments, but being located in Alabama is not a positive.

I love living in Alabama and specifically in Birmingham because my friends and neighbors are caring and generous people, but we are sending a message around the world that we aren’t sensitive to minorities.

Alabama is the 49th least liked state

According to a recent al.com story, Alabama was ranked the 49th least liked State with a favorability rate of only 8.

How can we effectively recruit companies and the jobs that come with them to a State that many people dislike?

Birmingham is being flooded with positive stories from all over America, but these refreshing tributes to Birmingham are being cancelled out by negative Alabama headlines such as these…

These are the stories that people across America see about Alabama month after month.

I’m not making a case against our Southern heritage, for gay marriage, or in favor of illegal immigration—I’m just pointing out the consequences of our behavior.

Many Alabamians may not like it—but these are not popular positions in America today and we are judged accordingly.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said when being inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor

“As a state, we took too long to step toward equality.  We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage, and we are still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.”

I listen regularly to a Birmingham conservative radio station.  One of the hosts was complaining that his wife was ‘under employed’ and could not find a job matching her talents.  He blasted President Obama and the Democrats.

I can understand his frustration, but the problem is here in Birmingham and Alabama–not necessarily across America.  Over the past four years, Austin had job growth of 17.2%, Nashville 14.9%, and Charlotte 11.7% while metro Birmingham and Alabama have gone nowhere.

We in Alabama wrap our self-worth around Alabama and Auburn football–maybe that’s not enough to convince the rest of America.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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5 thoughts on “Alabama: A great State unless you are black, gay, or Hispanic”

  1. *”I listen regularly to a Birmingham conservative radio station.  One of the hosts was complaining that his wife was ‘under employed’ and could not find a job matching her talents.  He blasted President Obama and the Democrats.”

    Interesting. A lot of conservatives (including myself, though I’m a Jack Kemp Republican, not necessarily conservative), have made the argument “move where the jobs are”. If you choose to live in a place, and have the financial capability to move somewhere else, but choose not to do so, what does it say? That you have placed other factors above economics. Stop complaining about making bad economic choices.

    1. Rogers, I live in Birmingham, as do many of many of my friends, because of the good quality of life here. It would be nice, however, not to be selected as the 49th least liked state in America. Thank you so much for your comments–please keep them coming.

  2. Alabama is known as the good ole buddy system. Until you get rid of business as usual Alabama will never grow. Too many pockets have been lined from “under the table” deals at the expense of the tax payer. If there isn’t anything in it for me then no you can’t do it. Unless we expose those who are corrupt it will never change.

  3. David, I don’t hold most polls to be effective. The poll can be slanted based on who responds, how the questions are phased, and in this case answered by people who may have never visited the state. I seriously doubt we are the 49th least liked state. 

    I blame the media on our reputation across the country and on opportunistic politicians. I am in favor of not displaying the confederate on public grounds. However, if Gov. Bentley thought this was an issue then why did he wait more than four years to remove it?

    As for Tim Cook, I am not aware he has done one single thing to promote Birmingham, Alabama, or anything else in the South. He received a great education at Auburn. Has he ever done anything to support Auburn. 

    I think it was Coach Saban who said to the media “you are critics – do what you do best criticize”. This city and state has too many critics and not enough people who contribute to improving society.

    David, this blog is about promoting consolidation or metro Birmingham into one governing entity. I agree with that goal. Here is the challenge: Choose one city to engage in talks about merging with Birmingham. Since you live in Vestavia why not start with them. Once other cities can see that it will work then maybe you have a chance.

  4. David…I’m not from Alabama but have been here 7 years.  Birmingham is a nice town and my wife and I
    have numerous friends and enjoy many activities here.  Our friends and us certainly don’t all agree
    on a lot of political issues but that’s what you get anywhere.

    What I find unsettling is the undercurrent of intolerance of
    others (who are not my friends) who don’t even respect our views and opinions.  There are many divisive issues like women’s
    choice, gay marriage, immigration, inequality, race, Obamacare, the Bible and
    plenty more, but I find so many people to be so opinionated on these issues
    that I can’t even have a two-sided conversation with them. 

    I actually consider myself fiscally conservative and somewhat
    more liberal on social issues but you would think I’m some wild “liberal” for
    just trying to find a middle ground.

    We’ve decided that life’s too short to live in an intolerant
    environment so we’ve decided to find a new place to live.

    (I know…many Alabamians will just say “good ridden and get
    outta here.”  That’s exactly what I would
    expect.  They don’t want people like us
    here because we don’t think exactly like them. 
    I’m leaving as soon as I can, don’t worry.)

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