Forbes claims that Stockton CA is the most miserable city in America. Stockton was ground zero for the housing boom and now the subsequent bust. Home prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2005 and then came crashing down last year. Stockton had the country's highest foreclosure rate last year at 9.5%. Things are not looking much brighter in 2009 as housing prices are expected to fall another 36% on the heels of a 39% drop in 2008. Also, unemployment is expected to jump to 13.3% from 10.4%.
Both of those cities can be glad that they are not Paris TX. I am convinced that Paris TX is the most racist city in America. There are only 26,000 people living in Paris TX, yet the town's racial animus keeps it in the national spotlight.
Paris first drew national scrutiny in 2007, after a 14-year-old African American girl, Shaquanda Cotton, was sentenced by a local judge to up to seven years in a youth prison for shoving a hall monitor at Paris High School. Three months earlier, the same judge had sentenced a 14-year-old white girl to probation for the more serious crime of arson. National civil rights protests, petition drives and media attention forced Shaquanda's early release from prison.
Then last year, a 24-year-old African American man, Brandon McClelland, was murdered by two white men who dragged him beneath a pickup truck until his body was nearly dismembered. The accused killers are awaiting trial for murder, but McClelland's family and civil rights leaders have pressed prosecutors to add hate-crime charges as well.
Only a few weeks ago, race relations had reached such a low point in the troubled east Texas town that federal Justice Department mediators were called in to try to bring together Black and white citizens, but the public meeting quickly dissolved into rancor.
Now we learn from the Chicago Tribune that fresh racial tensions are erupting inside one of the town's biggest employers, the Turner Industries pipe fabrication plant, where Black employees charge that hangman's nooses, Confederate flags and racist graffiti have been appearing throughout the workplace for months.
One worker, Karl Mitchell, took pictures of the offensive symbols in early February and filed a formal complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week. Other African American employees assert that they've repeatedly complained about the racist symbols to their bosses, only to be ignored or told to keep quiet.
"Somebody had to step forward," said Mitchell, who also alleges a pattern of wage and promotion discrimination at the plant stretching back nearly two years. "They are so wide open with [the racist displays] and so certain that African Americans aren't going to say anything about it."
John Fenner is Turner Industries' lawyer claims that the company only learned of the discrimination allegations last week, when photographs of the racist symbols began circulating on the Internet.
"All of us in management find all of that offensive. We do not condone any displays of this type. I can promise you that in the event we uncover that any of our people participated in the display of any of those matters, they may very well lose their jobs."It must be a damn nightmare to be a Black man, woman or child in Paris TX. After all, it is now the reigning champion as 'Most Racist City in America'.