There is a stretch of Gay Street down near the old city that was built on top of the former street. Accidents and traffic down there by the old southern railway station inspired the construction of the first viaduct and a clumsy project which essentially consisted of building new businesses on top of the old ones.
This lead to a "city beneath the city" that I heard many a hobo legend about when I first moved here. Some day I'll compile these stories into a collection about this mystic hidden city. I was really drawn to it and I came up with my own folklore about that city beneath the city. My stories were about a magical place hidden between the aesthetic progress of downtown and the exposed brick window to yesteryear in the Old City.
I look at this rock with it's "#NoSafeSpaces" and I feel like I can't be looking at my city. This can't be the place I have considered home for these past few years. Right? Every time Hannah walks to work and she is yelled after by brutes in their testicle-laden trucks, I think, "This can't be my city?"
That's because I know the city beneath the city. I know Knoxville's art and music. I know her tender mountain streams, quiet quarries, the very supportive community of musicians, the thoughtful conversations and gentle reflection on cool fall evenings in Market Square.
Knoxville is a deeply flawed city ripe with racial inequality, police discrimination, legislated violence against the poor, rampant misogyny and trite tribal behaviors that are sadly predictable in this cultural climate.
But there is something so beautiful and magical happening just underneath and I am so privileged to be a part of that. That's the Knoxville that I believe in. Just underneath this painting is a Kendrick Lamar quote. "We gon' be alright." I believe that.
A lot of people in Knoxville are coming forward in the face of such declarations as "NO SAFE SPACES" to say, "We will be your safe spaces." This is not a threat that we take lightly. We will confront this staggering display of intolerance and hate with love and inclusion.
If you need anything, please reach out. There is a city underneath this small-minded display and it loves you and it's happy you're here.