285 South is a weekly newsletter dedicated to telling the stories of immigrant communities in metro Atlanta.
What's with the 285 part? So, I-285 is a loop shaped highway that circles metro Atlanta, connecting three major highways, and bringing together suburbanites and urbanites, recent immigrants and Atlantans who’ve been here for generations.
I moved back to Atlanta in 2020 after living away for over 15 years. The Atlanta I’m living in now isn't the Atlanta I knew as a kid, when my dad thumbed through the giant white phone book (remember those?) searching for names like "Khan" and "Sheikh," desperate to find fellow Pakistani families in a vast, very white, suburban landscape. This city has changed since then. I-285 now carries 2 million people a day, it's 62 off-ramps act as doors to dozens of Atlanta neighborhoods and suburbs, each with their own identities.
Many of these suburbs, including the one I'm living in, are now majority minority. The 2020 Census numbers confirmed what residents here have been seeing and living for the last decade - that metro Atlanta is majority non-white for the first time ever.
In October 2020, I watched Georgia turn from red to blue from my front yard. LatinX, South Asian, east African, and east Asian folks showed up to vote (early! for weeks!) in polling centers, the lines circling around parking lots and extending down to the road I live on in Gwinnett County.
That wasn’t the only turning point here. The pandemic has also made something else painfully obvious - vital information isn’t reaching so many immigrant communities and that’s had a direct impact on COVID infection rates, vaccination rates, and seemingly simple things like accessing government relief.
The disconnects are huge and the disconnects hurt people. My intention is to identify and understand those gaps.
The shifts here are tectonic. The stories of the people behind these shifts are often untold and the changes that are happening from one generation to the next are incremental and yet, huge.
285 South is a newsletter dedicated to the stories of people living through and embodying those changes - my stories, my parent’s stories, my neighbors’ stories, their neighbors’ stories, and your stories. My hope is that we discover, understand, and chart the stories of the New South together.