In our Urban Sociology class, we learn about the sociological overview of the different historical, political, social, and economic factors that affect urban cities. On March 30, 2017, I was able to interview Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, a resident and official of the Atlantic City community to hear his perspective on the changes of his own urban city. Councilman Shabazz has been a part of the Atlantic County and Atlantic City region for a long time. Atlantic City has gone through drastic changes over more than a decade, and the councilman has been a witness to a large portion of them. Councilman Shabazz has a perspective that we do not to get to hear too often because he is an elected official of Atlantic City. His position as a Third Ward Councilperson gives him the opportunity to represent both the state and also the citizens of Atlantic City. Shabazz is also a chairman of the planning and development committee of Atlantic City, which oversees and evaluates the construction of different buildings being developed in the Atlantic City community. He is able to see and understand the trust and mistrust of the government due to the Takeover Bill, and other decisions that have been made for Atlantic City in general.
Councilman Shabazz has a direct connection to the state, and for this reason he has a huge say on what goes on in Atlantic City and Atlantic County. As an elected official Shabazz stated it “gives you a different responsibility from what other people have because you have to make sure that you are actively and accurately reflecting the way people think ,and you have to defend the people in your district.” Regarding the Takeover Bill and how it might affect his role and voice in the local government of Atlantic City, Councilman Shabazz does not believe it will have a toll on him, but instead affects the people. The Takeover Bill just causes more mistrust of the government within the people of Atlantic City. Kaleem mentioned that the short term look at the relationship between the people and the government is not too good, but he sees the long-term relationship being better. He does not believe that the government is directly trying to harm Atlantic City with the Takeover Bill.
When relating back to our fundamental concepts during the interview, which are power, environment, behavior, and interaction, they were brought up consistently. Specifically, power and behavior were spoken about more frequently. When we discussed the influence of government on the community, it directly relates to power. Behavior was brought up when we talked of how the citizens of Atlantic City need to have more of say in what happens within their community. They feel like their voices are already not being heard. Councilman Shabazz says they need to get out and vote for what they believe in. In Jones and Jackson’s piece “Remember the Fillmore” (2014), we were able to see this same trust and mistrust of the government. Due to historical past ordeals with the government and cultural changes in the community that they did not favor, the result was mistrust of the government. The same could be said about Atlantic City, and especially with the Takeover Bill.
The one thing that I took directly from my interview with Councilman Shabazz is that hope still lives in Atlantic City. Even through these tough times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that if positive results happen in Atlantic City through the Takeover Bill, people will become more trusting of the government.