Why I Can Never Go Home Again

I was born and raised in Lima, Ohio. And in many ways, I’ve never left. Home weighs heavily on us all. Our early experiences deeply influence the way we see and understand the world around us. I had a charmed upbringing– safe, comfortable, and loved. My parents encouraged me in everything I did. They bought me books and looked the other way when I stayed up way too late reading by flashlight under my blankets. Even then I was awful at subtlety. My community was great. Supportive teachers who pushed me, but also publicly recognized my talents. Warm and kind church-members at both West Elm UCC and Trinity United Methodist, who well lived the sort of compassionate Christianity our faith preached. My friends were solid guys who understood loyalty, solidarity, and collaboration. Few things ever brought me more joy than playing basketball for hours on end with the Gregs before retreating indoors for some serious games of Madden. In those moments I remember Lima as a simple, friendly example of America as it could be.

Of course, we also carry the scars and insecurities of our past– my relatively modest economic and social upbringing hung over me like an anvil throughout college, grad school, and the early stages of my career (and still seeps in from time to time now). I was always fearful that people would figure out what a poor rube I was. At times early in my college experience it seemed like every other place, activity, or cultural reference my friends made was something I had never heard of. Couscous? What the fuck is couscous? But we are also buoyed by the hopes and dreams we fostered in our youth. For me, and most of my closest friends in high school, that was the dream of a better, more fulfilling life somewhere (ANYWHERE) bigger and grander than Lima. It pushed me through four degree programs and into a career (and life) I could never have imagined or realized if I had stayed home. For me, those hopes were the product of fear as much as of any dream– namely, the fear of returning home in failure. Nothing drove me more than the idea of people back home looking at me as a disappointment or failure. My fears of returning home are very different today.

Kewpee. A Lima icon. The place my parents met, where every Lima ex-pat returns to, and perhaps the only aspect of my hometown that measures up to my memory.

Lima is the perfect case study of 20th century US economic and social politics. Her growth was the result of the decentralization of the auto industry and white flight. The sizable African-American community was the product of the Great Migration. The steep economic and demographic decline is a microcosm of the Rust Belt phenomenon. Our racial divides are deep. The poverty is overwhelming. Its drug problems are real and multiplying. And the thought process, politically, socially, and economically are beyond fossilized (and run counter to everything that would be good for the region). It is the very model of the modern American urban crisis.

Of course, this is the narrative of a historian looking back at his home. I see it in the stark terms of where it fits into the story of modern America. I see how forces beyond our control created and destroyed our town. We failed, like nearly every other Rust Belt city, to diversify our economy. Our poor, late-19th and early 20th century white immigrant population never got over it’s labor and cultural strife with the internal migrants of the Great Migration. We actively fight against economic regulation and labor protections, despite being a city of workers. Corruption has been a common part of the political and legal process and an extremely small number of ruling elites continue to exert undue control over the city (though we sneer gleefully at big cities like Chicago and Detroit for having these problems). In these and a hundred other places I see how complicit we have been in our own destruction. This destruction was coming, one way or another, but we poured a lot of gas on the fire. (Or dumped a bunch of crude in the sewers, if you are partial to historical Lima oil-based disasters.)

Insane Tea Party rally in ’09, where local auto sales magnate Tom Ahl bitches about taxes, mortgages given to black people, and government spending that threatened our freedom. No word on whether or not our freedom has been sold to China or our society has collapsed in the last 7 years. The boo’ing of Medicare by a town full of recipients is just too Lima.

If you asked my friends and family back home about the area you would likely hear a different story. They would all lament the lack of jobs and opportunity– that is unavoidable in any narrative of the area. However, most would blame it on unions and the greed of workers– if we hadn’t asked for so much they wouldn’t have moved the factory to Alabama or Mexico!– rather than mechanization, a poorly educated workforce, or the greed of factory owners who sought to maximize profits at the expense of their employees well-being. Few would agree with the notion that our perverse preoccupation with vocational education plays any role in our economic woes– after all, these are the sort of good, blue-collar, hard-working American jobs our nation was built on. Who needs all those useless skills from a liberal arts education? (Only every white collar job ever.) They would likely tell you that there is little racial conflict, ignoring the clear distinction in pay, employment, arrests, and incarceration. Not to mention the continued flight of remaining whites into the shitty suburban areas around the city– defended with the typical “better schools” or “safety” euphemisms white flight has always hid behind. In fact, I have not seen a single article or comment posted about Lima ranking as one of the 10 worst places to live as a black by anyone I know who lives there, nor has anyone reacted to the series on being black and white in Lima that the Lima News ran last week. No doubt this is in part because my social network became whiter the last few years I lived there– a direct connection to the disparity in educational outcomes and the social stratification of the city itself. I noticed it happening at the time, but lacked the knowledge, insight, or sense to understand why. The diverse meritocracy I thought I lived in was a lie.

Most of what I see and hear from back home disheartens me. It is full of anger and rage aimed at boogeymen. They take no blame for their plight, nor do they foster constructive policies that point the way forward. Frankly, it is a list of right-wing talk radio and Fox News bullet points. It is oppressive taxes that hold Lima down! Ignoring, of course, that the property and incomes of the region are so low as to make taxes practically negligible for the region. Unions ruined industry and eliminated jobs! Let’s just pretend that those union jobs were not the only thing that made living in this town viable for most people. Planned Parenthood is evil! Ignore that we don’t have one. Obama is coming for our guns! Everyone still has them. The city is run-down and can’t attract businesses! This, of course, has nothing to do with white people taking all the tax dollars to the suburbs, which invest nothing in the infrastructure and public services necessary for recruiting non-industrial companies in the 21st century. Poor people (read: blacks) and their entitlements are draining us of our tax dollars for services and education that we do not use. Right. As though your atrocious property values and paltry salaries actually amount to anything in the state or federal tax code.

They are pissed that abortion is legal– they won’t stand for such godlessness. What they are angry about locally is beyond me, as there is currently no place for a woman to go to legally seek an abortion– you would have to drive an hour to the Toledo or Dayton area. From what I can tell, there are two STD clinics in a 20 mile radius– the Allen County and Auglaize County Health Departments. The nearest Planned Parenthood’s are around 60 to 90 minutes away in Springfield, Fort Wayne, or Delaware. Coincidentally, Lima has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the state and Gonorrhea rates that trail only Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland. It is almost like limiting reproductive health care options might have a negative impact on people’s health.

“Even if the whole study could be unfounded, the reality is that the perception is there that blacks don’t have the opportunities,” the Rev. Lamont Monford, pastor at Philippian Missionary Baptist Church, said about a study that listed Lima among the 10 worst cities for black Americans. Above, Monford addresses concerns in December 2014 on tensions between minorities and law enforcement in the Lima community. Richard Parrish | The Lima News

They are angry that people keep insinuating that Lima has a race problem. They assert that they have never seen it. Apparently, they are as blind as I once was. Because it is totally normal for a city that is about 25% black to have one black cop (or roughly 1.2 percent of the police department). Or to have just 26 black teachers (note: I only had two, my fifth-grade teacher Mrs. McCoy and my Spanish teacher Mr. Peppers). Or for the average black family in the region to make roughly 30,000 less than the average white family (it is appropriate to use the wider county numbers in this estimate, given the amount of white’s working in Lima, but living outside the city– particularly in the medical field). No matter how you slice it, living in Lima (which is already pretty fucking terrible for most people) is damn near unbearable if you happen to be black. 

They are despondent over the lack of jobs and opportunity. Yet, they love and support the suburbanization movement that stripped the city of its tax-base (which, as noted above, has disastrous effects on infrastructure and education– the most important public goods) and retrenched its already strong racial prejudices. Mechanization and computerization made businesses more “efficient” allowing them to cut jobs, but the people of Lima largely reject investing in education so that our youth will have the skills necessary to contribute in the 21st century economy. New jobs to run these machines or computers largely go to outsiders with higher education and special training (things we helped kill with our suburbanization). Poorer regions offered tax deals and lowly paid labor to lure our industries away, just as we attempt to do to lure them back. Getting crappy jobs that pollute our air, land, and water while contributing little or nothing to the public good are of dubious value (and possibly a net negative in the long run), but desperate people will make reckless deals. Unions were systematically stripped of their power, largely by workers selling each other out and political ideology that tells them they are best off doing so, leaving laborers with no ability to negotiate with their corporate overlords. State tax burdens have been enthusiastically shifted to localities, allowing the wealthiest people in Ohio to keep more of their money at home and to leave poorer communities to fester (and no Bath, Shawnee, and Elida, you are not a wealthy community– indeed, you are quite poor compared to the rest of the state). Lima voters ostensibly agree with all of these moves, yet piss and moan about their effects.

I no longer fear returning to Lima with my head hung in shame over my failures. I fear returning to Lima because I can’t handle the shame of her failures. Her failure to grow. To learn. To pursue the sort of justice, freedom, and prosperity everyone in the region claims to believe in. I’m no longer ashamed of the things Lima lacks in culture and status– I’m ashamed of what Lima’s culture and status DOES have.

Thomas Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again. The nostalgia of the past is a fantasy, full of positive conformation bias. Lima has not degraded since I left. It is as it always was– full of well-meaning, willfully simple people who foster an intolerant, uncurious, and insular community more interested in “God, guns, and glory” than in education, jobs, and justice. It didn’t change. I did. They yearn to make Lima great again. I know now that it never was.

112 thoughts on “Why I Can Never Go Home Again

  1. All I can say us wow. I haven’t lived in Lima since ’09. Alot of this I feel. Especially going back as a failure. I was in Lima living at the YMCA. Ultimately homeless. Child support to pay. Relationship with my children was at all time low because I had no car and nowhere to take them. I looked for a job but no one seemed to be hiring. Lima so small I found myself applying for the same jobs over and over again. Threatened to be jailed for not paying support and to boot a judge making you feel less than a man by how he spoke to you in family court. The judge knew there weren’t any jobs. But if the examples in Lima and sex education was thought out alot better. We’d know what a family is supposed to look like. Here I am who’s of miles away from my family missing good momments only to see on Facebook but never will I dream of moving back to Lima. The price is to great. Is my life perfect. No not at all but my chances of survival is a whole lot better. Thank you for the read. But the truth what is crippling blacks in Lima is lack of motivation, there is hardly a hand up where blacks help eachother, but would rather base everything by look what I got and welcomes jealousy. Selling weed and smoking weed. I end with this. I’m the tv’s Martin Luther King fought for your basic rights. Affirmative action. Jobs had to stop keeping people away from jobs based on race. So shortly there after. They come up with random drug test. Wake up people that’s their ammo. They figure test 10 people. 2 whites 8 blacks just so they can’t call it a race thing. Even I’ve seen this in Lima. Even give the 2 whites heads up. Lima like everywhere has a race issue but how you are done begins with you and how you approach everything you do. You want to sit on the couch playing video games passing blunts that’s on you. My uncle Mike Miller always said boys let shit happen, men make shit happen.

    Liked by 9 people

      1. Been there……done that. Came back to Lima in 2007 to do just that……but two discrimination complaints against Lima City Schools in less that five years………..forced me to move on…..once again…..this time….never to return……except to visit.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Mike, I’m assuming you’ve never left your hometown or you have never experienced what the author has experienced. I went through this as well, grew up in Detroit. My friends were getting killed left and right, no jobs, and the city was collapsing. I ran off to college and then law school and I was also introduced to a whole new world. Came back to open a restaurant with my husband and to work for a non-profit in the community. There was nothing but corruption, jealousy, and egos within that organization which made it hard for me to bring new ideas to the tables. And our restaurant was robbed 3 times and broken into twice and a man pulled a gun out on my husband. I got pushed out of the non-profit and could not find a job with a good salary. I grew up poor so now that I reached a certain point in my life, I just could not accept such low pay. The issue is that people are so used to doing things backwards, they are not used to working together, and the economy is so bad that you end up messing up your own life trying to save someone else’s. My husband and I moved back to California where we both landed great paying jobs, our daughter is not in danger of being shot or raped, and we are able to do good work here with people who are willing to work together. We send money to the shelters and other programs that we support back home. And we visit when we can and try to give the kids supplies in the schools. But unfortunately, I don’t see myself ever living there again. At least not with the way it is now. I pray for everyone there though…I really do.

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    1. This article sounds like it was written by a huge, self hating white kid on a guilt trip. Guilty of growing up not knowing traditional Northern African rice dishes? Guilty of growing up in a city where his parents couldn’t have well paying useless white collar jobs. Guilty about how blacks are treated, even though he went to the same school we all did and grew up with the same ignorant black kids that could care less about being anything (especially productive and responsible citizens). We get it, you hate yourself because you grew up in LIMA (lost in middle America) and not some metropolitan paradise (like the dystopian city of Chicago). You’re a typical liberal that hates everything that made life great for you. Do us all a favor, stop getting degrees of bullshit and start doing something productive for society. Actually, don’t, just move to Chicago.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I do not hate myself. My life is great. And I feel no guilt. Certainly not over couscous or my parents occupations. I don’t “hate” that I grew up in middle America– I love it here. And I certainly don’t hate what made life great for me: namely my family, my education, and my friends. If that is what you took away from my account I would suggest that you are not a very strong reader.

        While I do not hate myself, I do hate you. People like you, who make statements indicating they believe that the blacks of Lima deserve to live in a kind of poverty that few places in America can match and hold the openly racist belief that black children hold some sort of monopoly on ignorance. You are exactly what is wrong with Lima. I can’t recall a single student, white, black, or latino, who I went to school with at Westwood, Whittier, South, or Lima Senior that exhibited some burning desire to be “productive and responsible citizens.” Most seemed to simply be trying to get by, do well enough to get into a school, get a job, or join the military and have a little fun along the way. Whatever racial difference you saw, I didn’t.

        You are a typical right-wing troll. The kind of coward who hides behind anonymity, liberally lobs racists “truths” around, and relies on ad hominem attacks and other logical fallacies when “debating” others. Go back to whatever reddit subthread you crawled out of. You are not welcome here.

        Liked by 8 people

      2. I am with you Ethan. The author clearly is a brainwashed liberal. Education is clearly the answer. Blacks are ignorant in a lot of cases. I partly blame the entertainment industry for the lack of positive role models. Chicago is a good example of crime, but the author needs to move to Detroit and see how his liberal policies play out. News flash we all want the same things for society, we just disagree on how best to make those goals a reality. Unions? Lol.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. If you don’t want to look like an ignorant troll it might behoove you to either substantiate attacks like calling me a brainwashed liberal, accusing blacks (and only blacks) of being “ignorant in a lot of cases” (ps- your racism is showing), and saying that “liberal policies” are what caused the fall of Detroit (there is plenty of scholarship on what caused Detroit to fail– newsflash, its almost entirely the decentralization and white flight processes I mentioned here that brought down Lima too. I suggest starting with Thomas Sugrue’s “Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit if you actually want to learn something about this). Otherwise, all you have done is repeat a bunch of crap you have heard Rush or some other member of your infotainment complex prattle on about. You are not brainwashed. You just prefer to let others do your thinking for you. And do it poorly at that.

        Unfortunately for you, productive discourse requires that people who disagree with one another provide sources and substantive points to prove their position. Simply calling Chicago a good example of how liberal policies cause crime is not enough. You have to actually point out specific liberal policies that cause it. Historians call these causal factors. If you don’t know what the causal factors are you can’t make a serious, facts based argument. Instead, you are appealing to some sort of “truthiness” or faith.

        You are literally what I was writing about here. That you can’t see that is pretty embarrassing.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. Just about every thing the above two commenters wrote is true. Lima once had so many manufacturing and industrial jobs in the 50s thru the 70s………….a person could leave one high paying job one day and be working at another high paying job the next day. Those days are long gone. While there are a few high paying jobs left in Lima, e.g. Ford, the Tank Plant, Perry, two large hospitals, LCS, etc…….most of the jobs in Lima are low paying and most are staffed by temporary employment agencies that don’t provide any health care benefits. And what limited job opportunities that are left in Lima are pretty much filled by white people (99.99%) who claim that it is not discrimination that keep blacks unemployed in Lima…….but black people in Lima are either drug addicts, uneducated, not skilled/qualified, not ambitious, or would rather sell weed to make a living. Which would leave one to believe that there are no capable black workers in Lima and all the jobs in Lima are all filled by hard working and intelligent white people…….LOL. Yes there is a strong racial divide in Lima…….and yes……the job opportunities are fair to average for white people…..and practically non-existent for blacks. But the people who stay behind in Lima…..both black and white and brown….I would say…..for the most part………..are comfortable with their existence. I guess if that is the life you have always lived……an know nothing better…….than ignorance is truly bliss. BOTTOM LINE: THE WHITE PEOPLE OF LIMA WILL CONTINUE TO BE GAINFULLY EMPLOYED….BY HOOK OR CROOK AS THEY SAY……AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY WILL SLOWLY START SHRINKING AS THE YOUNGER BLACK PEOPLE MIGRATE AWAY FROM LIMA FOR BETTER OPPORTUNITIES IN LARGER SURROUNDING CITIES AND THE OLDER BLACK PEOPLE DIE OFF. EVENTUALLY THERE WILL BE A BALANCE BETWEEN AVAILABLE JOBS AND PEOPLE TO FILL THEM……………BUT IT WILL BE A MUCH “WHITER” LIMA.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Exactly I truly agree… It’s so much under cover racism in Lima if u don’t have anything going on its best to get out there’s plenty of opportunities in bigger cities u just have to make up your mind, motivate yourself and move its not hard use did and you can too God don’t have no respect of person just make up your mind I’m out of here… And go

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I was born and raised in Lima, and raised poor for that matter, even living on the north side of town. Many times I had moved away from Lima, only to return later because I missed what little of my family had stuck around. It was never until I returned that the struggle began.

    Work in Lima is a fairytale. Other than the medical field, (which I was also a part of and still struggled) the only other field you may be able to strive in might be the field of law. Lima is filled with meaningless, under paying jobs that have no room for advancement opportunities or career goals. With the exception of the fore mentioned, the best jobs in Lima are mainly blue collar factory jobs or, maybe if you’re lucky, a cityworker. The scraps leftover vary from fast food, retail, cleaning houses, some construction (the larger construction projects seem to contracted to out-of-town companies) and a few in between. You may turn into a successful business owner if you open a bar or liquor store. There are four liquor stores, (there is one where I live now) and more bars and pubs than I can, or like to count (there is four where I live now), one just about for every corner. I blame this on Lima being a pit of despair. Lima is on an economic downfall.

    Whenever I return to Lima to visit relatives, I can always see a noticeable change from last time. The town is more gloomy. More storefronts are boarded. There is more pollution in the air, in the water, and on the ground. The “downtown” seem to be filled with more vagrants and vagabonds wanting your spare change. The businesses opening or in their infancy on my previous visit seem to have always closed their doors and boarded up by the time my next visit became.

    The racism and segregation and tension in Lima is thick enough to cut with a knife, and the violence is worse. Since I was a child, the blacks got the south side and certain parts of the west side, while the whites got the north and east side, and the Mexicans got the trailer parks. And dare you step onto the wrong side if you are not excepted. As far as violence. I knew Lima had a problem with violence, but it wasn’t until I had the liberty of being a paramedic in Lima that I got to see how bad it actually was. Mainly black on black violence amd domestic violence (I’m not saying that the whites and Mexicans were angels cause I’d had my fair share of them as well). But lately, the violence has multiplied. Almost every time I open facebook or the Lima News website there has been another shooting or stabbing, by teenage kids, for reasons that most like likely hold no merit. And lets not forget that these are the same model citizens that ate infamous for the “knockout game” (how’d you like getting your nose broken you little uneducated maggot?). At best, all these kids are doing is setting their town, their family, and their race back hundreds of years. C’mon, even the Neanderthal’s learned to create a society.

    And you absolutely cannot close a rant about Lima without mentioning drugs. Lima’s drug problem seems to be monumental. Every drug you can think of can be purchased in Lima, by the most unlikely person you least suspect. As far as drugs go, its the opiate epidemic, mainly heroin that is ravaging Lima, so intensively that every emergency vehicle in Lima is now equipped with Narcan that can be administered nasally. In the last few years I have seen this drug (and other drugs as well) ruin people, ruin families, ruin lives, end lives, and even end this guy’s life once. From what i can see, it is only escalating. Lima is Satan’s Disneyland.

    Once again, I am guilty of running from Lima. I ran from the poverty, the violence, the drugs, and the gloomy dark cloud that seems to linger over your where ever you’re at in Lima, only this time not to return but only to visit my dad, uncle and sister. I will never again take my family back there to live. I have an amazing girlfriend and two wonderful children who deserves to be where they are. We are making a great life for our little family.

    At times, Lima reminds me of the Hotel California. You can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Wow! I’m momentarily speechless. As I sit in Raleigh, looking at this cover photo makes me smile. The memories I have of this city simply overwhelm me (and I’m not that far removed from Lima, only about two years). Like you Jeremy, those memories are mostly of friends and Kewpee. You were able to put into words, my exact feelings on why I will never return to Lima. The main reason my family had to leave was the lack of opportunities for my children. My husband and I had ok jobs (we won’t even get into the wage gap), but no matter the education we held, we knew we were never going to prosper past our current station. The minute we arrived in NC, my husband got a job where his income alone equaled our joint income in Lima. And that was entry level work!
    Jeremy, you mentioned the lack of African American teachers in the school system. I recently had something to say about that in the Black/White feature in the Lima News. Lima City Schools was another reason our family had to leave. The teachers at their current school are as diverse as the students they teach. Black, white, hispanic, male, female, and so many others. It is amazing! Again, it is so hard for me to properly express my frustration with the city, mostly because I lived under the oppression that few people see. I thank you for being able to pen this and share it. I look forward to reading your other opinion pieces.

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  5. You lose some credibility with improper grammar (learn the difference between when to use “it’s” and “its”), and by your simply false last two sentences: “they yearn to make Lima great again. I know that it never was.” For being a historian, you obviously don’t understand that Lima’s history goes further back than the 1950s, and know nothing of its boom era. Some of what you say has some credence and truth and I do believe that Lima has more problems than most, but as a fellow historian, I am disappointed in your over-simplifications and your ignorance of Lima’s history.

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    1. I’m sorry that my hastily written blog, cranked out between conference calls, for free, lacked professional editing. Feel free to apply for the open position of copy editor.

      As to your complaints regarding the boom era, I would hardly call the exploitation of a limited natural resource and the highly concentrated wealth generated by that boom some sort of golden age that can be harkened back to. Indeed, it led to a host of issues with corruption and economic stratification that in part played into the city electing one of the few openly socialist mayors in the nation. That is all quite beside the point. Lima as we know it was formed, like Kokomo, Indiana and countless other industrial boom towns, by the decentralization and white flight of the auto industry from Detroit in the post-war period. It is when the demographic composition changed substantially, the population peaked, and the current political orientations of the region came into being. You may as well complain that I didn’t include the settlement of the region, the draining of the Great Black Swamp, and a whole host of other events that bear little direct connection to the account. Every narrative starts somewhere– the post-war period makes the most sense for this one.

      Lima was never great if you were black, poor, or outside of the small circle of what passed for economic elites in the area. Any notions that there is a glorious past to return to are the fantasies of local historians, the Faurot and MacDonell families, and other whites who happened to do fairly well for themselves. I stand by my statement.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, then your statements are opinion. You have a clear bent against using fossil fuels, which is fine, but just because you don’t like the fossil fuels doesn’t mean that Lima was not a boom town during that time.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Which of those statements are opinion? That the boom really only helped a small number of people? That it was accompanied by a great deal of corruption, politically and economically? Or that life has always been fundamentally unjust for blacks and the poor in Lima? Feel free to enlighten me.

        The obviously politically motivated jab regarding my supposed opposition to fossil fuels is hilarious. My father, uncle, and a man I considered a grandfather all made their living at the refinery. It helped pay my way through undergrad. My dad still works in big oil. I have no bent against fossil fuel use and make no reference to it. That assumption is pure projection on your part.

        From one historian to another, I suggest you widen your perspective when considering the notion of “greatness” in a town. Can you call a boom period great if it sets the area up for economic collapse when the boom ends? Does it matter if it was only good for a small number of people? The way you have approached this topic makes it seem like you are only interested in cheerleading a moment when Lima had some measure of economic importance on a wider scale.

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      3. In your own argument you support the fact that Lima’s oil boom supported more than just a few. The refinery in Lima continues to be a good employer. And my “projection” was based on your statement that our natural resource was exploited. I look forward to hearing your explanation as to how that does not have negative connotation. I do appreciate your continued projection onto me as to what your assumptions are of me politically. No doubt a continuation of your understanding of every single resident of this area. But no, my jab wasn’t political. I’m actually a really moderate person politically. I happen to hate guns, am pro-gay rights so I don’t fit into your “Gods and guns” mold of Lima area residents (though I will confess to being a Christian). In terms of calling the oil boom great, that is a matter of opinion. It’s your opinion that any industry that fails eventually means that it was never truly great. Where you and I differ is all a matter of opinion. You criticize me for bringing to light a period you chose to ignore entirely and then tell me that I am the one who needs to expand my horizons. I focused on it only because it is an important time period in Lima’s history which you chose to ignore in your assessment of Lima. I’m not the one who wrote a blog criticizing a town and in a turn that should be well known to a historian to be dangerous, not include all the facts because it didn’t fit the narrative. Of course it didn’t. Because it’s far more catchy to make blanket statements and end your article with a phrase like “they yearn to make Lima great again. I now know that it never was.” Compelling writing, but it’s ignoring some history. When I was being taught to write about history, I was told that it’s more important to get the facts straight than to have “ooooooo” writing.

        Also, I find it convenient that you sent me an email apologizing for being snarky to me privately, but then come on here after I see your email to find that you have further continued your snark and issued no public apology. I don’t care personally, but I do think it’s shady.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. There is nothing “convenient” or “shady” about the email(s) I sent you. They happened after I had responded– check the time stamps. I felt that I had been unduly harsh and wanted to personally apologize for the tone. Doing it publicly makes it look like a stunt. This response, while critical, seeks to avoid unnecessary meanness.

        Fossil fuels can only be extracted. By definition, they are an exploitation of natural resources. In the context of that sentence the word has no negative connotation. Assuming that I have a personal aversion to fossil fuels only makes sense when situated as a political statement. What other way is their to interpret your comment? What else could you be implying about me when you say that?

        Instead of taking my assessment of the mindset of Lima personally and using yourself as anecdotal proof that it is false, consider the wider political voice of the area. What do Lima area people overwhelmingly vote in favor of? It is not pro-labor, pro-civil rights, pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ candidates or platforms. Read the Lima News. Watch the news. Look through social media feeds. Lima runs Red in deep and significant ways, most of which cut against the best interests of the majority of residents. You still have not addressed which portions of my argument that Lima has always been an unequal and racially discriminatory place are not “fact.” There is a distinct difference between opinions backed by feelings and opinions that are supported with facts. You can say we are both simply asserting opinions, but that is not true. I’ve established my narrative, pointed to the evidence that supports that, and left it to readers to engage with the veracity of it’s “truth.”

        Explain to me how starting my blog post, which is already twice the length of a standard NYT’s op-ed, with the oil boom in Lima would have made more sense from a narrative perspective. If you think it does, you would need to be able to explain why my interpretation that contemporary Lima is the consequence of the post-war auto industry boom/shift is false and how going back two more generations makes more sense.

        Who ever taught you that historians include “all the facts” was practicing a strange brand of history. Historians write narratives. They make choices about where to start based on the historical context that is most important to the story they are trying to tell. For issues of time, space, and coherency it makes no sense to write a short, historically based narrative on the issues of racism and right-wing anger in Lima prior to the post-war period.

        You might also note that this is a public blog– not an academic history journal. I write pieces that use history to make sense of and explain issues in the world around us. This particular piece is a personal reflection and reaction to how I look at my own past and that of my home. That thought, catchy though it is, was authentic. It is what I think. And I laid out why I think that. Do with that what you will.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I moved away in 1985. Grew up in the south side. I sometimes return to visit family and friends and it looks the same, besides there are more boarded up businesses and properties. It could be so much more, but I think everyone gave up. It saddens my heart to see how the city and it’s people have just given up and accepted things the way they are. I am a white woman and I grew up in the southside on 4th st. I knew poverty and yes I agree the good jobs most generally went to whites, but not always the case. My mom moved us to Indiana in 85. I’ve been there ever since. Lima will always be my hometown,but to move back I couldn’t to visit and eat some Kewpee yeah. Professionally and financially there’s nothing there. I hope that one day it may become better, but I doubt it. It has progressively became worse.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love Lima been gone 23 year have 7 brothers still there. I still love going there it will always be home to me! Lima is what u make of it . It’s not all bad try to see some good there. Live In Cleveland or some other town problems are every where. Love each other stop the fighting no Mather the color u r.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Bla Bla Bla ,, Lol Wow Lima seems really Popular these days to continually be talked about / put down ; You actually do miss it here is what Im Thinking! I hear the same crap about Other places that people live. There is plenty of real jobs/ work here and the surrounding areas If you WANT to work! You broken spirited people must have nothing Better to do than sit around on here and talk crap – give us Your cheap “Lip Service” about Lima , All I can say ” Do you want some cheese to go with that Whine ?

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  8. I’ve been away from Lima permanently for over 35 years. I am retired now, and when I do return, it’s only when I have to. Most times it’s due to a family members death. The last time I was there was when my brother died after having surgery on his back. I pray for the secondary family that I still have living in Lima (cousins, nephews, friends, etc.) but I can never go back, even to visit. When I do it’s to the grave sites and to the Y to workout. Lima has nothing to offer young people.


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  9. As someone who grew up in Lima, moved for several years, and CHOSE to come back these article really disappoints me. It aims to target the impact of race issues in Lima being involved in everything yet the piece becomes almost entirely about race itself (fuel to the fire?). I am fully aware of the pitfalls of smaller American towns and some of it’s citizens that are narrow-minded. They are everywhere. But for every 1 there are even more who are working to build the city up. How long has it been since the author has lived here. Does he know we have 3 colleges in our area? 2 college branches? Does he see the progress happening in Downtown Lima? Businesses are WAITING to move downtown. Both black and white business owners. Complain all you want about your hometown. But until you decide to move back and be a part of the change and progress you are no worse than the citizens that you claim are keeping it where it is. If you don’t want to move back that’s great too. I applaud you for finding a career you are happy with in another city. But publishing negative, theory-driven pieces like this is hurting your hometown just like the people you are accusing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is pretty hard to write a piece critiquing racism in Lima without mentioning racism. Indeed, the very point is that most people in Lima seem to want to avoid talking about race. Like if the just close their eyes and wish hard enough it will all just go away. The city has a long history of mistreating blacks. A history that is not only being continued, but is becoming more prevalent today.

      I moved away from Lima in 2000. Those colleges and technical schools were there. Many of my family and friends attended them. But unless you major in a technical field, education, medicine, or business there is not much for you back in Lima. Even then, you will find it hard to get your foot in the door without some level of personal connections. There is a reason we have a substantial brain-drain issue– there is no place for many college educated people in the town.

      Telling someone to not talk about a subject and to “come back and change it” is about the most anti-democratic thing a person can say. A society like ours only functions if people are willing to engage with ideas and discuss issues. Look at some of the other comments here. What you call theory-driven is reality to many others. But much of Lima refuses to believe that. The experiences of some, especially blacks, are basically ignored as ideologically driven, divisive rhetoric. What makes Lima awful isn’t people like me complaining that it was insular, racist, and anti-education. It is people refusing to see that there is a problem at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t say the only option was to move back. And I’m surely not saying it can’t be discussed. But all you are doing is offering up criticisms without any ideas of solution. THAT it my issue. Many people realize there are problems with any town but it’s one thing to write about how disappointed you are in it from across the country and another to shed some positive light, a solution, and help make it what you thought is was as a child. Race issues are happening all over the US. You haven’t been able to see the things happening on a local level to combat it. The positives don’t usually make the news. A few weeks ago during the Lima Central Catholic vs. Lima Senior Basketball game the LCC students took up a collection and raised almost $3,000.00 for a Lima Senior student battling cancer. This was raised by the Lima Senior and LCC community TOGETHER within a matter of 5 minutes. Just last week 2 congregations joined on a Sunday and worshiped together, one predominantly white, the other predominantly black, and two different religious denominations. There are tons of things like this happening every week.
        I work in Marketing. Was it difficult to find a job when I came back? At first. But since I have been here more and more jobs in creative fields are opening up because other people realized the importance of a changing workforce. We have advertising agencies, multimedia companies, a growing art scene. I personally know people reviving the music scene in Lima. There are so many entrepreneurs opening businesses and they are choosing to bring them Downtown. We had 10 new businesses move downtown last year alone. I’m not trying to wag my finger at you. I just want you to realize that things are progressing. I hope that next time you come to Lima you are able to look at it with a fresh perspective and see the positives. Yes, there are still negatives, as you’ll have anywhere. But at least there are people in our community who care to build it up.

        Liked by 3 people

  10. My mother was born and raised in Lima Oh, she worked through the summer’s to pay her was through college RN,BS . My father came from Seals Alabama to find work. He was employed at Ford Motor Company, The Railroad, Garbage Man, Janitorial at Lima Memorial Hospital. One day I asked my mother’ why is Lima so small, they don’t have anything for kid’s, youth and the teens to due” at that time she began to tell me. There were other companies that wanted to build in Lima, yet Lima Men whow were well to due! Wanted to keep all the money in their circle.

    Remember the American Mall..
    As before I said that the( Lima Men) didn’t want to share the wealth. So the company came anyway, the (Lima Men) bought the water company off, so that the water supply would be cut off to the American Mall. The company out smarter (Lima Men )

    American Mall moved outside city limits, built the mall and brought their own water tower!

    For me having been born and raised in Lima Oh, The Men of Lima! Stopped alot of business from coming in. That’s why Lima is the way it is! No opportunities. No good paying jobs, Nothing to better the community. ..
    Thank The Lima Men from time the first ground breaking!

    For my family, friends etc…
    Leave Lima! Give your children a Fresh Start where they will Excell.
    I moved away in 1993..BEST DECISION I EVER MADE…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Dont kid yourself. This reads like a microcosm of every big city: Cleveland, Chicago. Cleveland and chicago have its racism issues within its own police force and the corruption in the city and county governments would make your heads spin. If you think that moving to the big city makes job advancement something to look foreward to, think again. The jobs are few and hard and there are no promotions. This state is in a job crisis regardless of ploli-talk just like the rest of the country is.
    The fAstest growing cottage industry is prescription drug trade , but the governor doesnt want to talk about that. As long as they dont mess up his stats. Lets just keep them happy. But i digress. Its sad to hear that Lima is in decline, but the grass isnt that green an thebig city

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes…….the grass is greener in the big city. While the crime, racism, corruption, etc……are magnified and multiplied in larger cities…………..so are the opportunities for people of all colors. In a small “not what you know but who you know” town like Lima……the opportunities for advancement are only available to a select few…….and those few are almost “always” white people.

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  12. When people begin to understand that any area that Jesus is not served and put first in will decline. The enemy continues to divide as people look at race and other factors that hide the dividing plot of the enemy. The focus of living a true Godly lifestyle serving God daily is the key. When we are walking, talking, and living as Jesus would have us to, we will see souls and sin and the need for a Saviour rather than color.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I left Lima in 1967 as a 17 yr old. I enjoyed my childhood growing up in the far west end as the only black kid in the rich area past Cable Rd. through the years coming back to visit or for funerals, I realized most of my childhood friends and family had left Lima. my mother ,who was Lima’s first black teacher continued to live there. my visits could only last 3 days because of the boredom. there was nothing I saw in Lima that would ever want me to return to live there. I convinced my mother to move when her health was failing before I died before her. I have lived a life that could be a best seller if written but would have been ordinary living in Lima. I truly understand why 75% of my FB friends from Lima live elsewhere and 98% of my “white” friends have left Lima. true Lima isn’t the only town with these problems but I haven’t seen anything Lima has done to bring any of us back except class reunions which I have yet to attend.oh, this is coming from an ex-“bean” who lived in one of the areas of the US with a high murder rate, ST. LOUIS, and just moved to a suburb of MEMPHIS. I speak of my childhood growing up often but qualify it with I would never go back.

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    1. I remember your mother……she taught Spanish…..right……..great teacher…..??? LCS has always had a few black teachers……….and that one or two black teachers in each school satisfied the white people’s guilt concerning diversity. And now fifty years later……and with a city that is about 30% black (?)…..one or two black “staff members” is still enough “blackness” in their way of thinking. They feel that (1) white teachers can teach black students just as well as black teachers can…..and (2) there are no qualified black teachers applying for jobs in LCS. Well….(1) as proven by the group of black CTAG staffers in LCS who have improved the graduation rate of black students tremendously……..black staffers do a much better job of “mentoring and guiding” black students. The proof is in the pudding. And….(2)….if there were more black principals and administrators in LCS, they would find and attract black teachers to the area. They would know how to establish trust and rapport with prospective black teachers…..as it is obvious that current white administrators do not know how to do. The current superintendent of schools said that “black teachers don’t want to come to Lima because it is cold and there is no night-life”…….sheesh. Like I said…..the proof is in the pudding.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Latif, unfortunately, am not so sure how many black teachers were available for hire during the 40’s and 50’s, have no idea about today. Are there any black or white community leaders doing any grassroot work at lima sr high which I am told has turned into a “war” zone. Used to be a wonderful school for all of us (for the most part, and as far as I know)

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  14. I am so sick and tired of seeing outsiders and people that have moved away from Lima bashing it. My mother works for the Chamber of Commerce, and there are so many programs to help fix these problems. But people like you, that could help support and promote them, prefer to sit on your thrones and judge this city that has suffered for so long, they don’t know what prosperity looks like, much less how to get there. So instead of making Lima look bad and driving away potential businesses with your hurtful article (and trust me, this has happened: that Rolling Stone article influenced some businesses to turn away), why don’t you get in there and fight the good fight? Heaven forbid you get your hands dirty, you condescending twat.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Charming. You really can never be called “condescending twat” enough.

      If you are sick of “outsiders” bashing the city I suggest you do something to make it less of a soul crushingly poor and discriminatory place. Tell me just what it is that I should hold up and support about this city and its racist practices? Please let me know what part of the income discrepancy between blacks and whites in Lima I should glorify. I’m very interested in hearing how I should appreciate and draw positive attention to the tracking we do in the schools or the attitudes of law enforcement officers who view urban blacks as a problem (a personal correspondence I had today which I will write about more fully later).

      Perhaps Lima would be better off if its residents stopped pretending these things were not happening and actually did something to change them. Then again, as I pointed out, the people of the region largely do not care about the plight of black folks or the destruction of the working class. I have no desire to bang my head into a brick wall trying to convince people like you to change.

      Respect is not given, it is earned. I don’t owe Lima anything. And Lima has done precious little to earn anyone’s respect.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m glad you are doing something.

        As for putting my money where my mouth is, I’ve dedicated my entire adult life to expanding access to high quality education to poor and traditionally under represented people. I research, write about, administer programs, teach and design courses, and develop software with the goal of making higher education available to poor people across the country.

        Here is a video from the General Education Academy at the University of Arizona that I designed and developed the first year of courses for:

        Regardless of what you, I, or anyone else is doing to extend educational opportunities, none of this fundamentally changes the fact that people in Lima refuse to directly and intentionally respond to problems with racism and labor protections. At best, it sacrifices all of the people currently suffering– “don’t worry, your kids will live in a better place.” More likely, the poverty we leave the black community in will continue to present undue burdens and hurdles to their academic achievements, changing things very little.

        I’m not trying to be glib or dismissive here– every little bit helps. But these issues must be addressed directly before any change can happen.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Imagine what a beautiful place Lima could be if people would stop their mindless bitching about an imagined lack of jobs and would actually become active member of their community. There are charitable organizations within Lima that work tirelessly to improve the lives of the people within their community, and their effort shows. There are all kinds of jobs to be found and opportunity to be had if you stay off drugs and are willing to put in an honest day’s work. It’s really that simple. I think that philosophy applies just about anywhere you go.

    If you would like an honest view of what Lima is really like, quit reading this crap. Instead, take a day to visit one of our beautiful parks, stop in our awesome museum, catch a play at the theater, and grab a bite to eat at one of our locally own restaurants. Lima isn’t the scary shit-hole that people make it out to be, but a thriving community in which many residents are proud to be a part of.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I have fond memories of my youth in and around Lima. It’s home to many good people, including my parents. I left for college in 1990 and never looked back, though. I didn’t factor the city so much into my decision, but looking back, it’s obvious I made the right choice for me. Some commenters seem ti think Jeremy wrote this just to be mean. I don’t know him, but I disagree. He cares enough to offer an informed perspective on Lima’s most challenging problems. That’s more than I have done, so I applaud him. As far as I can see, his views are spot on.

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  17. It is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.

    It’s absolutely impossible to teach a dead one.

    It saddens me to see people, both here and elsewhere, jump down people’s gullets for daring to opine on the decline and demise of Lima’s industry, its hijacking by AstroTurf grassroots ultra-conservatism, and its long history of racism, labor exploitation, pollution, anti-intellectualism, and segregation.

    It saddens me. But it doesn’t surprise me. When you have nothing left but hate, lies, and despair, you can either hate or despair, little else. Either that, or you can lie and say “it’s not that bad. It’s better now. You don’t know our history.”

    The truth is that it IS that bad. Lima is the machinery of consumption, and all but an elite, corrupt, comfortable few have been–and will be–chewed up in its death march towards a progress which will never come.

    Congratulations on escaping. “Left” is too weak. “Got out” too vague. If you aren’t in Lima any more, you got a reprieve on the world’s most interminable death sentence.

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  18. I left Lima last year after returning to the city after college. I lived in Lima throughout my whole childhood, i’m white, and grew up on the south side of town. I think this article really gets to the bottom of what it is like to live in Lima. I believe that the main problem with the town is that all, that most people know, is living in Lima. People who live on the south side of town, regardless of race, understand the feeling of “I’m always going to be stuck here with no future.” I feel that that causes many people to not pursue bettering themselves, or the the town; therefore, there is hopelessness and a grey cloud. There are some bright spots in Lima, but they do not outnumber the bad and that’s why people leave. When I came back into town, I could only find jobs that were minimum wage or slightly over. I applied many different places but there is just no work for someone who has a degree in a non-medical or technical field. Also, for us younger folks, there is nothing to do in Lima that is cheap / geared towards young adults other than the movies or maybe the coffee shop on Market St. It is hard for me to go back to Lima because all my friends from high school have either left town, have many children (most out of wedlock), sell drugs, or are in jail.

    There are great people in Lima, but unless you get lucky and get a job at the refinery, tank plant, or ford, there is really no opportunity left. People, especially the minorities in town, know this is a fact of living in Lima. You can try to change Lima, but I feel that the damage is too great right now; The city is dying. No matter what kind of programs you start up, there needs to be a fundamental change in the way that people in Lima think before the town can change.

    For now, Lima is dying and for me that means I need to live somewhere else where I can support my family. I have a love-hate relationship with Lima like anyone who has lived there, moved away, come back, and moved away again.

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  19. They don’t call it “Little Detroit” for nothing…Lima will hit rock bottom just the same. It is, in the Grand shceme…though, “The Heart of it All”. Love it…Hate it…Love it again…whatever. Lima will BE Lima. If it’s Heart is true it will improve, just like anyone. Those of you who love it will Make it so.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Jeremy,

    I’m not usually one to comment on internet forums of any type, let alone a personal blog, but your essay resonated with me. Like you, I am from Lima (or rather the outskirts, Perry Township) and also like you, I am a historian. I left Lima in 2008 after receiving my undergraduate degree, went to graduate school in Boston, and am now a history professor at a university in Washington State. I travel in fairly intellectual circles and find explaining Lima quite difficult. Your article is perhaps the best analysis of the dire economic despair, racism, and hate that characterizes Lima. From one historian to another, I commend you on the ability to succinctly and effectively explicate the city’s post-war history and how that shapes the Lima of today. Most of the commenters on the blog, especially those who support what you say, have pretty much contributed what I would have added. Those responding in a predictably reactionary fashion, however, must not understand irony or–and not being mean here–lack basic reading comprehension skills (not implausible given the state of primary and secondary education in Lima) given you so effectively predict their politics and response in your piece.

    One interesting observation did come to mind when reading your article that really made me pause. While not explicit, you hint multiple times to the environmental devastation created by industry in Lima and, what logically follows, is how the community has tacitly accepted pollution as part of having industry and “good jobs.” Once again, we see the people of Lima willing to sacrifice themselves, their families, and their community for what they think is the good of the whole, but in actuality is for the good of a few mega corporations whose CEO and board of directors would never step foot, let alone live, in–in their view–such a shitty, marginal Rust Belt town. Rather, they want the pollution as far away from their million dollar mansions and condos (usually in and around NYC) as possible. And that gets at the very paradox you describe in your essay. The people of Lima, positioning themselves, in the words of Sarah Palin, as “real America,” should hate the leadership of Ford, General Dynamics, and whatever oil company owns the refinery this week. But instead, there is this weird economic dependence where the people are willing to sacrifice everything–namely the health and welfare of themselves and their families and tax revenue that could fund education–for a few jobs. It is incredibly short-sighted and has only caused more harm than good.

    On a personal note, especially in regards to the pollution, I think about a lot the people I knew growing up. We all have gastrointestinal issues, a guy I went to high school with has a heart condition that doctors only see appear in people over 60 (he’s 31), and at Perry at least, there were a high number of students with cognitive disabilities. It reminds me of all those mornings growing up when I would walk outside, look across my backyard and see a flame on the horizon shooting out of the refinery. Other days when WLIO would run news reports telling the people of Lima that the weird white soot on their cars was from the refinery and “nothing to be worried about.” As I’m thinking about this, I’m smelling the chemicals in the air and seeing all the odd vapors. And I compare it to where I live now. There are two refineries not 20 miles north of where I live. There are never burn-offs, no smells, no vapors. The city I live is often ranked as having some of the cleanest air in the country. Why? Because Washington State has “hippies” who believe in environmental regulations and the city and state isn’t as willing (it does happen) to sell itself out to the highest bidder offering a few middle-class jobs. People are unwilling to sacrifice themselves, their families, and communities to mega corporations looking to exploit the population and destroy our environment. Sure its not perfect and there are problems, but people aren’t miserable.

    That’s the key for me. Fixing Lima is not about jobs or economic activity, it is about people. People unwilling to draw the line in the sand and stop prostituting themselves out for even the tiniest piece of the economic pie. People unwilling to recognize how their business and political leaders (like Tom Ahl) use racism and government boogeymen to continue extracting wealth from the community as a whole. For that reason, it is also the people of Lima–bigoted, under-educated, and caught in a nasty cycle of dependency (economic, drugs, etc.)–that also cause me to despair.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the note. And congrats on the gig in Washington– turning my back on working as an academic historian was the toughest (and best) decision I ever made. I hope your decision to stick with it is as fulfilling and empowering as my choice to walk away was. Though at this moment I admit to envying your classroom position (and little else!).

      I thought a great deal about the environmental piece, but decided against going any further down the path outside of that brief passing reference. Shoot, I cut out nearly a thousand words on redlining and the GI Bill that I wanted to include, and that was when I thought I was writing this for myself. While it is public, I never really thought anything I wrote here would be read beyond a handful of my friends. I should have known better. The internet is a big, weird place. This comment seems particularly timely given the grief I feel (along with everyone else I know from home) over the far too early passing of my friend Monica Berger five years ago today at the age of 28. The poor health and early deaths of the region should provoke some suspicion. You are right, of course, that Lima area residents are willing to sell their land, health, and future for rather small short term gains. I thought of Lima specifically when I designed an animation on the layout of Bronze Age villages for the digital world geography program I made for McGraw-Hill. As soon as humans figured out how to convert the energy of the sun into industrial production they realized that they didn’t want it anywhere near where they lived, the water they drank, or the air they would breathe. My home office these days is in Los Angeles. We frequently engage in discussion regarding the pros and cons of oil drilling and refining in the area. Some areas, like Long Beach, have given into the pressure and power of these interests. Others, like Redondo Beach, use their wealth and influence to keep the big oil interests at bay, preserving their idyllic beach community. Wealth and privilege that poor Lima will never have. With land that is almost without worth, no real resources to speak of, and as unskilled a labor market as one can have, the region is left with little choice but to prostitute itself.

      The tragedy of Lima to me is not that it is poor. Poverty is something many communities in this region face. As you stated, the real problem here is the people. They ignore the structures of racism and oppression that allowed them to carve out that tiny slice of success they achieved, believe the lies their political and economic overlords sell to them, and continue to oppose all measures that would bring capital and support into the region. To the voting majority in Lima, it often seems that they would rather die as poor, uneducated, drug addled leaders of a stark racial caste system rather than examine the policies and philosophies that have led them down this path. I will not weep for their failure. But I will cry for those trapped in the world they created.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. To the author: Antiquated politics is indeed the issue at hand. But what you’ve failed to mention, is that the politics haven’t changed. The same liberal democratic values that have shackled this area for decades, continue to imprison it’s residents. Policies that stifle entrepreneurial vision, squashing job creation. I also found several discrepancies in your piece. For example; you mention the supremacy of the white culture, but then go on to disparage the entire community. Which is it? The “man” suppressing people of color, or the whole community is lacking? The latter is far closer to reality. Conjointly blacks and whites struggling to improve, on most days just to survive. Incidentally, I was the key note speaker that day of the “insane”rally in the square. Fighting to free Lima from the same liberal corruption that has destroyed cities like Detroit. Proving that the issue isn’t a lack of compassion, or social injustice. The problem was, is, and always will be government interference. Attempting to force equality, to legislate “fairness”, will never work. Ask the nations first settlers at Jamestown. However, a belief in the American people, their benevolence and goodness, mixed with Constitutional liberties and the opportunity to succeed, will transform every city and county in the nation. Lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government interference is what Lima needs to be transformed. Just as a football team has its problems magnified when they are losing, so too has the racial tensions and misfortunes of our city been magnified. But in the same vein, just as “winning fixes everything” for the aforementioned team, prosperity and success changes a culture. Given the opportunities to succeed, most in the city would transcend the issues of the day, and move forward in harmony. On to bigger and better things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To the commentator (Andy Burkholder): You sound like an unhinged maniac. You seem to suffer from issues with reading comprehension, historical knowledge, and contemporary politics.

      I’d love to know when you think “liberal politics” started dominating the region. Damn all those Republicans leaders, like Matt Huffman, Jim Jordan, and Keith Faber for continuing the entrenched politics of the left. Lima has long been dominated by right-wing thought. The discourse, in the media, in the social arena, and in politics reflects two positions: right of center and far-right. Indeed, it is largely an echo chamber for the such discourse.

      As for the notion that I am inconstant in speaking of white supremacy while disparaging the entire community, you must not understand how the notion of a dominate culture works. The dominant culture of Lima– whites– has systematically oppressed and abused the black community. Only a craven lunatic would try to paint them as equally complicit in the downfall of the city and the plight of the black community in the area. Feel free to address specific claims I made (or the Lima News made, or that 24/7 Wall Street made) about discrimination against blacks in Lima. Show us how “conjointly” blacks and whites contributed to this. Because we have a solid historical record of whites creating situations like this in the Rust Belt, from Detroit to small towns across Indiana and Pennsylvania that show the same pattern of discrimination in housing, employment, education, and incarceration. In every instance, the white community has used the levers of local, state, and federal power along with local economic forces to funnel advantages to the white community and while foisting costs (direct and indirect) on the black community. I’d love to see you over-turn fifty years of scholarly consensus on the subject with what I am sure is your deep reaching archival knowledge of policies and outcomes in these areas.

      The racial issues of Lima are not magnified because it is doing poorly. They are magnified because even in a nation full of racial injustice, Lima manages to have more inequality than most places. The wealth disparity in Lima is undeniable. Address it. Tell me why I should ignore this and pretend it is some natural consequence of Lima’s recent “losing streak.” More importantly, tell the 25% of Lima that is black why they should accept average household incomes 300% below those of whites.

      Lima was not ruined by taxes. In fact, Lima’s property values and incomes have always been so low that its taxes, in both real dollars and rates has been far below that of nearly every community in America. Tell us how lack of regulations would improve the Lima economy. Concrete examples, not nonsense theory. Let us know, specifically, which taxes crippled her. Tell us what services you would cut in response to eliminating those crippling taxes. These are the empty rantings of a demagogue, not serious policy positions (which explains why they have failed to take hold, even in a region that largely wants to believe in these words).

      The entire point of my article is that the racial tensions of Lima are not new. Indeed, even in our best of times they were present. Lima has always been a particularly unjust place. This is an undeniable historical fact. And with attitudes like those that dominate the region today, it will remain that way well into the future.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I grew up in lima and attendee Shawnee. Luckily I grew up in a nice , safe area where there was plenty of space to ride our dirt bike, four wheeler and go cart in the field and open area behind us that is now gone, replaced by fancy homes. We weren’t rich, but not poor. My mom stayed at home raising us girls, dad was on disability ( not that they would have been able to find a decent job to be proud of). The only jobs I could ever find there in my 20 years there were fast food including kewpee, for 4 years. I ended yoo driving to Columbus 4 days a week, an hour and 45min drive, to find a job where I could support myself while living in lima. I lost my house when I quit the job in Columbus and sine I was one of the few childless and single 27 year olds, took my sister’s Offer of moving to st Petersburg, fl. It was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. Now im in a highly praised nursing school program at an affordable college, have the highest hourly paying job I’ve ever had,in a hospital as a cna . I never realized that a town could have so many jobs, entertainment , activities and a great chance at advancing life and in your career. Linda coitus never offer that. I go back to visit my family and close friends who remain there and I do miss hoe at times because of them. They stay mostly because it’s all they know,
        they work factory or they’re stuck in a custody situation. I knew Lima was run down and a dead end for most , but i didn’t realized how bad and infested with drugs and violence it really was and is. Get out while you can and make a better, more productive life for yourself. It gets way better than Lima, people.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Here’s the thing. I’ve always felt that regardless of where you start, it’s your business where you are and where you’re going. Not mine. I’m where I am and I’m going where I’m going because of what I chose to do to change my circumstances. You are where you are for the same reasons. Don’t like Lima? Leave. What, you got some sort of debt to the land? Just go about 2 hours in any direction and you’ll hit a big city. No car? Hop a bus. No money? Get yourself a crappy job (Lima’s full of ’em) and start your Escape Fund. Hell you can WALK to Columbus, Dayton or Toledo in a day or two! Yes, there is injustice in Lima. I got news for ya, there’s injustice everywhere. That doesn’t make it OK, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is you gotta make the call to stay or go. If you stay, you know the situation, I have no sympathy.

    But maybe it’s not so bad, like a few people have said. The past always seems to look better than the present (in Lima anyways). Is that because it WAS better? I don’t know. Could be. More to the point I don’t really care. There’s nothing there for me, there never was. I could have stayed. I could have walked out of that recruiter’s office and back to my crappy little house with a leaky roof and doors that wouldn’t lock (in south Lima, more than a few sleepless nights were spent sitting up against that door). I could have kept hopping from one dead-end job to another, spending my Friday and Saturday nights with friends at BW3 or some other local bar (sometimes with karaoke). I could have lived the Lima dream. But I got out. Not because I’m white, not because I’m privileged, not because I knew someone and they got me in the door. I got out because I wanted to get out bad enough to do something other people who wanted to get out weren’t willing to do. Want to get out? You know how. Don’t want to get out? That’s fine, too. But don’t expect former Beans to be shocked at the state of Lima (or assume that they’ll give a hoot). We know what’s there. That’s why we left.

    And that’s an other thing. If white people have it so good in Lima, why are they all leaving? If Lima is so horrible for black people why are they all STAYING? Just seems like a problem with an easy solution. Don’t like where you’re at? Go somewhere else. Your Promised Land is probably out there. Mine was.

    And please realize that the writer of this article if not who I am addressing here. He obviously left. I’m talking to you, young person. Get your shit together, you wanna die here? Time is short, my friend, what are you waiting for? I tossed years down that hole, it never got any smaller and I never heard them hit bottom. Turn your back on the past and go. Go.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Hi Jeremy. I too grew up in LIma and lived in a household where my dad was the union shop steward at Westinghouse. Like you, i really got a good education that included Latin and prepared me well for school and work. My family was left-wing, pentecost–go figure that one out. I always go back to LIma for class reunions and I stay in touch with my friends from middle school and high school. Most are retired but I still work. I”m a PhD, like you, and the president of RDIconnect, Inc that is working very successfully with families impacted by autism.. Lots of things helped me and motivated me. It makes me sad that these no longer exist for the children of LIma. Recently I was given a reward at LSH and gave a few talks at the HS to various classes. The school system is now so small that there are fewer students in the whole city than my graduating class. They were nice and curious. Great article. I hope your life continues to include such good writing. Rachelle K. Sheely

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I really enjoyed this insightful article. Like many white people, it is easier for me to say I don’t see a problem – but when you point out the disparities with regard to black police officers and black teachers v black population percentage my eyes were opened to an injustice I would never have thought of. Well done. If racism and injustice are to be tackled, the rose coloured glasses worn by white people have to lifted off.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Very inspiring article. I feel the same way as you, although I’m Italian. I left my home small town like you at the age of 23. At first were the worries about failing and having to come back ‘with my tails within the legs’. 8 years has past since then. I graduated in the Netherlands and I built a career that allows me to travel around the world. And the home of my youth is no longer the same for my eyes.
    Your ‘list of right-wing talk radio and Fox News bullet points’ I read it everyday on Facebook, which remains for me the only contact to that Italian community of my youth. (The only difference is that there are no many black people in my town, but the blame on the ‘other’ is fully there. In our case immigrants). For me it is hard to say that I am ashamed of the town I grow up. And I want to read your position as provocative. I don’t want to put myself above anyone for I know that not everyone in my town, as in any town, share the same narrow-minded ideas about education, immigration, abortion. And yet I cannot be more thankful to that day I decided to leave it behind.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Very inspiring article. I feel the same way as you, although I’m Italian. I left my home, a small town like yours, at the age of 23. At first were the worries about failing and having to come back ‘with my tails within the leg’. 8 years has past since then. I graduated in the Netherlands and I built a career that allows me to travel around the world. Now the home of my youth is no longer the same for me.
    Your ‘list of right-wing talk radio and Fox News bullet points’ I read it everyday on Facebook, which remains for me the only contact to that Italian community. (The only difference is that there are no many black people in my town, but the blame on the ‘other’ is fully there. In our case immigrants). Despite this, I cannot say that I am ashamed of the town I grew up. (And I want to read your position as provocative). I don’t want to put myself above anyone for I know that not everyone in my town, as in any town, share the same narrow-minded ideas about education, immigration, abortion. I don’t want to say that I am ashamed of my home town, but I couldn’t be more thankful to the day I decided to leave it behind.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Wow! I think many of these responders read a different post than I did. I have been writing about education news for a few years, and I think you hit the nail on the head. I am also a Southerner and over 60-years-old. In my opinion, many of the comments on your article seem to be made simply to potentially impress whatever audiences the writers are targeting or to flaunt their superior intelligence and insight.

    I think, and I hope, that you were telling your story as you see it, have seen it, lived it, remembered it, and interpret it. Since quoting a source seems to be an imperative in these replies, I’ll quote Charles Schulz, “Good grief.” I hope to hell I have not made any typos or have included any misspelled words.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. That was painful. And I’m sure a mirror image can be seen in countless towns across the country. Everyone looks back thinking times were better and strive to bring them back, but they are only rehashing the status quo that has us embroiled in the shit we’re in as a country. To be better we have to not only move forward, but think forward. Too many of us are looking over our shoulder rather than looking ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. I am an immigrant, and I have my fears, too, of returning home. But, my reasons are different. I am scared of my own failure in surviving in a different environment, and what is considered to be success back home!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. So sad! I’m from Kettering, Ohio, and it was the same way! I was bullied and abused. Things haven’t changed in Ohio! I have been in Florida since 2001, don’t like it here either, but have not, and will not go back home for nothing! My mother, sister or her kids have never came to see me. I have to call my mom, she won’t call me, sister won’t talk to me at all, because she has a grudge over things that happened over 40 years ago, her kids, I don’t why. My dad has passed away, which I was not told about until 2 weeks after. Was not told about grandmother for 2 months after. So why would I go back. I look forward to the what is ahead, not what is past!

    Liked by 1 person

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