Monday, March 31, 2008

What's in the ground on race, ethnicity?

Some say Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s speech a few weeks ago might – or should – jumpstart a national conversation on race. In Charlotte, a conversation was already in the works.

Mecklenburg Ministries, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee and Community Building Initiative have been organizing to help the public examine issues that may be divisive in our community and discuss how to strengthen relationships. The dialogues were prompted by the rancor that occurred when a new Mecklenburg County sheriff was being selected.

“What’s in the Ground”, the first in a series of community dialogues on race and ethnicity and how to respond to each other, will be held Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church, 2000 West Trade St.

Confirmed panelists include Dr. Claude Alexander of The Park Ministries, Dr. Mary John Dye of Hawthorne Lane United Methodist; Rabbi Murray Ezring of Temple Israel; Reverend Jay Leach of Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte; Reverend Frank Ramos of Forest Hills United Methodist Church) and Dr. Dwayne Walker of Little Rock AME Zion. The moderator is Katie Crowe of First Presbyterian.

The sponsors want to hear from the faith community, government officials, business and nonprofit leaders, educators, the media and individual residents. What's your take on the issue?


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that several organizations have claimed to be working for years on the issue of trust, yet the Nick Mackey situation revealed that all of the meetings, coalitions, and fancy gatherings have accomplished very little. Having attended a good many of these affairs I would suggest that they may have done more harm than good. Most of them have been predicated on the idea that our community is "unfair and unjust" and they have catered to the idea that many of our woes have been caused by "white privilege". Little is ever said about personal responsibility; nor have these groups been willing to consider varying viewpoints on issues such as education.

Many of the white participants and leaders attend inner ring churches whose congregations live in wealthy neighborhoods and predominately send their children to private schools--apparently they assuage their "guilt" by trying to make suburbanites feel guilty as well.

At the Crossroads gathering I attended a year or so ago, at differing points during the presentation the persons sitting on either side of me each leaned over and whispered to me "All I'm hearing is divide, divide, divide." The woman on my right was African American, the man on my left had an hispanic surname, although I suspect he preferred to think of himself as just plain American.

I believe that by excusing bad behavior, attempting to place blame on past injustices, and catering to the "you owe me something" industry those who say they are working towards "trust" have actually created more polarization within our community.