A couple Sundays ago, the Dallas Morning News asked us, "Can Fair Park be great again?" As we have discussed answers in the last few weeks, many times, folks argue that choosing one word or another is playing semantics. However, words set the mood. Whether read, or sung, or written a word shapes perspective. For too long now, there is a word that resulted in a blurred, fuzzy, mess in Dallas public conversations. Right, as in fair, as in What is the right thing to do for the future of Fair Park.
We’ve been clouding our thoughts and muddying the waters, wracking our brains for the right thing to do for the future of Fair Park. Brainstorming and researching the fair thing for the tenants, the fair thing the community, the fair thing for the Dallas economy, the fair thing for the city budget.
If we truly wish to get to the heart of the matter we must admit one simple truth. The future of Fair Park has little to do with fairness from any perspective, and is unequivocally predicated upon equity. Equity and equity; justice and money. The present decisions and planning on the restoration of Fair Park to greatness is about Dallas and it’s influencers committing to an investment in civil rights.
What most cities paid for in blood, Dallas financed in dollars. The interest rate is so high no good economist would have advised in favor of a contract outlining the accommodation made. However, the treatise was agreed upon not by economists or even lawyers. It was truly one of those desperate cease-fire/peace agreements signed in urgent secrecy by war torn general who couldn’t afford to send their troops out one more time.
There were bombs. There were guerrilla war tactics being brought to the forefront; and, Dallas leaders refused to be the next fire-hose torn, noose-dragged, blood-washed bridge above the fold.
We never dared whisper what we were really ransoming. It would be years before anyone admitted what we were really financing. Yet, if we all sit quietly and go back in our hearts, each from our own perspective, we can see that Fair Park and it’s activities, were the collateral.
Dallas never had a true moment of rioting or reckoning for civil rights. Yet somehow, without much kicking and screaming, and only a bit of hemming and hawing compared to other Texas towns, Dallas moved forward with history toward the general direction of equality.
Now I’m not saying Dallas moved quickly, or without murmuring. Dallas was close to the back of the line, and often took the scenic route, heading toward, yet careful to avoid leading the way directly TO political or social equality. Whenever the proverbial question, “Aren’t we there yet?” was begged. Dallas was the dignified, but stern parent demonstrating that “We’d get there when we got there and not a moment sooner.”
Well Dallas, the moment is here. We didn’t have any riots. We didn’t have any bridges. We didn’t have any schoolhouses or churches. But, Dallas, we have a park.
So now we have a park that can never live up to it’s name. It can never be fair. The accommodations we made to avoid blood shed and stop bombs means it’s namesake is forever tarnished. However, in this moment, we can move beyond plans. We can move to engagement and restoration, a social narrative that creates healing. We can reimagine fairness, and build equity. Making Fair Park greener is the key to both fiscal and egalitarian success. Equity is green; and green will lead to equity.