What needed to happen here was a real-life discussion on the racial issues in Charlotte.
Because this city has some serious underlying racial issues that no one talks about in mixed company. Tonight was a chance to do that and no one did it.
Last night's event was supposed to talk about broader implications of the Martin case, including:
- Why is what happened so disturbing?
- Could it happen here?
- What should happen now?
Before I get into the meat of the program, I have to express my disappointment in the Charlotte City Council and Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners. Thankfully, Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield felt this program was worthy of her time, as did Commission Chairman Harold Cogdell. Where were the rest of the elected officials? I'll wait to hear about the previous engagements they had that kept them from this discussion.
And speaking of the discussion, a panel featuring, Brett Loftis, executive director of Council For Children's Rights, Jelani Haskins, a 17-year-old Philip O. Berry student, Jose Hernandez-Paris, diversity and multicultural education specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Brian Heslin, attorney with Moore and Van Allen and Mary C. Curtis, renowned journalist and current writer for the Washington Post, talked about what the Trayvon shooting meant to them.
Curtis had the best line of the night: "The worst act by a white person is an act by that person. The worst act by an African American and the whole race is judged by it."
I need Charlotte to address racial issues in this city. Why has East Charlotte been allowed to be described as the violent side of town? Is it because the population is mostly black and brown? Why are minority areas of the city the last to get critical needs addressed. We have sidewalks in Ballentyne and no one walks there.
Why is it when predominately black neighborhoods are cleaned up, it usually means moving the black people out?
And how about the fact that there are places in this city were black people know they're going to be harassed if they go there? EpiCentre anyone?
Before the city of Charlotte tries to get in on a national discussion about race, let's look at our local issues.
Why did everyone get so upset with Cogdell when he made a move for the BOCC chair? It wasn't because of "politics" it's because he unseated a white woman. Now, the only commissioner that you see in the community isn't running for reelection. Good job, Charlotte.
Why do people outside the minority community have to be told why the Trayvon Martin case has African Americans angry? Because their children have never been bused to the inner city to understand what it's like to be there. Their children never had to get up at five a.m. to ride a bus for an hour to go to school.
Until Charlotte looks at the racial issues in this city, discussions like last night's will be nothing but hot air.