Atlanta Must Reads for the Week: the AJC’s doctor and sex abuse series, Mike Will Made It, and Edgewood’s gentrification

Plus, editing Kevin Durant and the closing of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts
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Mike Will Made It with Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Photograph by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s yearlong investigation into doctors who have sexually abused patients

In a national investigation, the AJC’s investigative team—led by reporters Danny Robbins, Carrie Teegardin, Ariel Hart, and Jeff Ernsthausen—poured over 100,000 pages of documents to examine why a high percentage of doctors who sexually abuse patients, including two-thirds of those in Georgia, are allowed to practice again. The newspaper published the first stories in its ongoing series this week:

Victims were babies. Adolescents. Women in their 80s. Drug addicts and jail inmates. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse. But it could be anyone. Some patients were sedated when they were sexually assaulted. Others didn’t realize at first what had happened because the doctor improperly touched them or photographed them while pretending to do a legitimate medical exam.

Some doctors were disciplined over a single episode of sexual misconduct. A few physicians—with hundreds of victims—are among the nation’s worst sex offenders. But the toll can’t be measured by numbers alone. For patients, the violations can be life-altering. The betrayal even pushed some to suicide. How do doctors get away with exploiting patients for years?

Some victims say nothing. Intimidated, confused or embarrassed, they fear that no one will take their word over a doctor’s. Colleagues and nurses stay silent. Hospitals and health care organizations brush off accusations or quietly push doctors out, the investigation found, without reporting them to police or licensing agencies.

Society condemns sexual misconduct by most citizens and demands punishment. A teenage boyfriend and girlfriend in North Carolina were arrested for “sexting” nude pictures of themselves to each other. A Georgia woman was placed on a sex offender registry for having sex when she was 19 with a 15-year-old who lied about his age. A Pennsylvania teacher who had sex with an 18-year-old student was dubbed a predator and sent to prison.

But when a physician is the perpetrator, the AJC found, the nation often looks the other way.

Read: License to Betray

Shaun Raviv for Creative Loafing on the cost of Edgewood’s gentrification

Raviv writes about a longstanding Section 8 housing development—a vestige of affordability in the rapidly gentrifying eastside neighborhood of Edgewood:

Edgewood Court is located directly behind Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and about a mile from Kirkwood’s busy downtown full of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Property values have skyrocketed here in recent years as affluent individuals have moved into town. Bungalows are having their roofs ripped off and are being used as bases for three-story houses. The median sale price for a home in Edgewood has gone from roughly $100,000 five years ago to about $300,000 today. NPU-O, which includes Edgewood, Kirkwood, East Lake, and the Villages at East Lake, has gone from 86 percent black in 2000 to 59 percent in 2010. Transformation is occurring so quickly in the neighborhoods that a house shot up in a drive-by last July was listed for $300,000 by May.

For many of the reasons it’s becoming popular with newcomers, Edgewood has long been great for people of lesser means, says Nathan Dean, the co-pastor of Edgewood Church. “Our neighborhood has got so many great resources for people of low income to move up in the world,” he says, noting the neighborhood’s schools, proximity to MARTA, and the Boys and Girls Club. “It’s just a great place for people that are struggling to get by and people that are on the lower end of society to have ways to climb up.”

Due to the dwindling supply of affordable housing in Atlanta, more than 80 percent of households with incomes below $35,000 spend more than half of their income on rent. Nationally, only one in four households that qualifies for subsidized housing actually receives it. It’s rare that these households land in a conveniently located neighborhood with resources like Edgewood. Most end up in a private market for rentals that overcharges and isolates low-income tenants.

Right now big questions are weighing on Edgewood residents’ minds: Will the neighborhood lose its diversity as it gets more expensive? How can the neighborhood be made safer? And avoid displacing its lower-income residents? What should and will happen to Edgewood Court Apartments, one of the last bastions of truly affordable housing in the middle of an increasingly affluent neighborhood?

Read: The high price of development

John Seabrook for the New Yorker on Mike Will Made It’s journey to become a star producer

In a colorful profile, Seabrook writes about how Marietta native Mike Will Made It, who has worked with everyone from Gucci Mane to Beyoncé, became one of the world’s most in-demand music producers:

In 2003, when he was fourteen, Will went into the Atlanta branch of Mars Music, the now defunct chain. “I go, ‘How do you use a beat machine?’ And the sales guy goes, ‘I’ll show you.’” An hour later, the salesman asked, “Man, that’s your first beat? For real? Damn, you should make beats, brother!” Will said, “So I went to my dad, and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to make beats.’ And he said, ‘What are beats?’” “When we were coming up, you had musicians,” Mike L said. “They played drums. So when you’re talking about making beats—what the hell is that?”

Will assured him that there was money in it and persuaded his dad to buy him a Korg Electribe EM-1 music-production station for Christmas; then he taught himself music programming. The station came with a software module that sounded like the Roland TR-808 drum machine—the sound at the core of Southern rap. At Kroger, where he bagged groceries after school, Will sold his beats for a hundred dollars each to some would-be rappers who worked with him, and used the money to buy more equipment. “I just wanted to get better. I was working with anybody and everybody. I’m like, ‘Hold up, I’ll make three beats for you for five hundred dollars and I’ll record you.’” He’d come home from his job and spend most of the night working in the basement.

“He doesn’t like earphones,” his mother told me, when I met her at Negril Village, a Jamaican restaurant in downtown Atlanta. “Mike would play music so loud that it was rocking the floor! I would say, ‘Could you turn it down just a little bit?’ I wanted to see him succeed. But it was really loud.” Mike L insisted that his son sign contracts with the rappers who bought his beats. “I’m from the corporate world, so I said, ‘You need a contract.’ But Michael would say, ‘It doesn’t work that way, Dad.’ And I would say, ‘Well, shit!’ ”

Read: How Mike Will Made It

Christina Lee for Rolling Stone on the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts

Following the death of Tupac, the rapper’s family established a $4 million arts center in Stone Mountain, where his mother, Afeni, lived. However, Lee discovers, the center has since shut down:

In 1997, the year after her son was fatally shot in Las Vegas, Afeni Shakur launched the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which hosted an annual performing arts day camp for inner city youth in the Atlanta area. She was inspired by how the gifted rapper, actor and one-time dancer studied at the Baltimore School for the Arts — crucial since, back then, she was smoking crack cocaine. Over the years at the camp, Jasmine Guy taught acting; Junella Segura Cooper, who has worked with Mary J. Blige and Usher taught dance; Dina LaPolt, Shakur’s attorney for 12 years, explained what aspiring artists should know about copyright and intellectual property laws. On June 11, 2005, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts opened as the foundation’s proper headquarters in Stone Mountain, Georgia, down the street from the six-bedroom home Tupac bought for his mother.

What used to be a paint store became a dance studio, with Tupac’s platinum and gold records affixed to the walls. The former movie theater next door was gutted for renovation. Inside the six-acre peace garden of wooded trails was a seven-foot bronze statue of the slain rapper. He wore a suit as he did as a guardian angel in the “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” video, holding a copy of his 1999 poetry collection The Rose That Grew From Concrete, standing on a medieval cross-shaped pond.

That statue is gone. The property was bought in December and a 25-person crew of Shakur’s family members cleared the site of all memorabilia: the plaques, an old mixing board, leftover pairs of Makaveli jeans. But the bricks remain. To raise funds, patrons brought these bricks for up to $1,000 to have them laid at the pond, with their names—Eminem, Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones—branded on them. LaPolt used to accompany Afeni Shakur to splashy premiere events, for works like MTV’s 2003 documentary Tupac: Resurrection, to promote the center.

Read: What Happened to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts?

Charles Bethea for the New Yorker on the Player’s Tribune

On the Fourth of July, NBA forward Kevin Durant revealed that he would sign with the Golden State Warriors, sparking uproar from fans critical of the Oklahoma City Thunder star’s decision leave his former team behind. To make the announcement, Durant wrote a story for the Players’ Tribune, a two-year-old website committed to letting athletes tell their own stories. Bethea, an Atlanta magazine contributor, reports on the outlet:

The two most popular Google searches in America on the Fourth of July were “July 4th” and “Declaration of Independence.” The third was “Players’ Tribune.” The popularity of that last search was the result of a story written by Kevin Durant, the National Basketball Association’s 2014 Most Valuable Player and the deputy publisher of the Players’ Tribune, a not yet two-year-old online publication run by professional athletes who wish to tell their stories in their own words. Durant used three hundred and fifty-one words in the story to reveal which team he’d chosen to play for next season. “I understood cognitively that I was facing a crossroads in my evolution as a player and as a man, and that it came with exceptionally difficult choices,” Durant wrote. He opted to join the Golden State Warriors, who, after winning a league-record seventy-three games last year, edged Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, before narrowly losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the N.B.A. Finals. The choice angered a lot of basketball fans, particularly those in Oklahoma. It also gave the Players’ Tribune its biggest day of traffic so far: more than three million unique visitors, which is about what the site usually gets in a month, and is better than the average day on ESPN.com.

“Kevin is very passionate about creating,” Jessica Robertson, the executive editor of the Players’ Tribune, told me. “And I think he’s also really interested in the site’s model and its place in the media landscape.” That model, essentially: cut out the middleman, also known as a reporter, and let the subject lead the way. “These athletes come off the field or the court, often adrenalized by performance, and have a microphone stuffed in their faces,” Robertson said. “Hopefully they’re articulate with whatever questions come their way, but that’s not always the case. So we see an opportunity to get outside that headline stuff a bit and go deeper with players.” Robertson added, “There’s still very much a place for traditional journalism and reporting and context you’re not getting from us. But the Players’ Tribune is a great complement.”

Read: Editing Kevin Durant

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