I appreciated the opportunity to speak at Breakthrough Austin’s Beat the Odds Benefit. I shared my newcomer’s perspective on the organization and made a case for helping it close the gap between the Austin Dream and the Austin reality of extreme segregation. It’s a tough job, but I’m optimistic that the city has the resources to do it.
Here’s the speech:
My family and I moved here in May–with 3,000 other folks. We’re part of the influx of people primed to relocate by all of the Best Places lists that Austin tops. You know, the ones that say Austin is best for young professionals and retirees. That it’s tech-savvy, green, musical, safe, educated, weird. And somehow also manages to be the best place for barbecue, burgers and vegetarians.
Austin shows really well in TV specials and glossy magazines.
But when you move here and see it up close, it loses a bit of its sheen. You see firsthand that Austin has excellent homes, schools, and lifestyles–for some. But it also has incredible segregation that divides people by income, education, and class, not to mention race and ethnicity, in ways that perpetuate poverty and cripple educational attainment for far too many children.