Last week Blake Scott Ball, a doctoral student in history at UA, wrote a scathing piece attacking Mountain Brook for al.com titled A brief history of Mountain Brook picking on Birmingham.
He talked about Mountain Brook’s history of ‘establishing segregation laws‘ and ‘moving children out of Birmingham school systems.’
Then there was the national news story in November when Mercutio Southall Jr. was attacked at the Donald Trump rally at the BJCC and complained,“Birmingham is 75 percent black, so why did he (Trump) choose to come here? He could have gone to Mountain Brook…”
Why is Mountain Brook such a lightning rod?
I’ve published well over 200 blogs and when the headline includes the words ‘Mountain Brook’ I have to brace myself for the reaction.
- Mountain Brook points fingers at Birmingham
- What folks in Mt. Brook and Vestavia are losing
- Mt. Brook mini-crime spree
- Did Mt. Brook blow up Birmingham?
Is it jealousy or some kind of attitude by Mountain Brook residents?
When I publish a piece about Mountain Brook I always disclose that I grew up and raised my children in Mountain Brook and am currently living in Vestavia Hills.
I cringe when I make the disclosure because I know some folks will instantly judge me. Commenters have labeled me ‘elitist’ or ‘snobby.’
It’s clear some people think residents of Mountain Brook are rich and pretentious, but I have the greatest respect and admiration for my Mountain Brook friends. Many are heavily involved in our broader community–volunteering, serving on boards and leadership positions of non-profits, and donating to charities.
This is as it should be because people with money should be generous with their time and resources.
But why the huge divide? Why does the income and racial chasm seem to be greater in Birmingham than other Southern cities?
We in Birmingham have divided ourselves into 35+ municipalities defined by race and income.
Birmingham is perceived as black and poor; Mountain Brook as white and rich.
Nashville, our neighbor to the north, is one great county-city. It is neither perceived as black/white or rich/poor. Folks in Nashville share a common mission and vision–while we concentrate on our differences and bicker amongst ourselves.
When I talk about regional governance, some people tell me that will never happen in Birmingham because the folks in Mountain Brook are happy with their isolated life in the suburbs.
The folks in Mountain Brook may not realize it, but they are not getting what they want.
Many citizens of Mountain Brook are attorneys, doctors, accountants, and business owners. The growth of their businesses and practices are limited by the stagnation of metropolitan Birmingham.
We in Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills, as other parents in our Birmingham region, are losing our children and grandchildren to more progressive cities.
I have a Vestavia Hills friend who is currently participating in a monthly area-wide forum looking for solutions for our Birmingham region.
She was surprised and disappointed by the resentment shown to her and the other over the mountain participants. This has dented her enthusiasm for working towards a better Birmingham.
So is the problem the people of Mountain Brook or the perception of the people of Mountain Brook?
What do you think?
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown and is 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).