Racial & Economic Justice
It is clear from recent police forums and from experiences shared by people of color in our communities that we have a serious problem with racial equity in policing in Orange County. The most recent example is a guest column by Stephanie Perry in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News (12/21/14). Perry serves with me on the board of Orange County Justice United. We heard other stories like this during the Carrboro community forum on policing in October.
Law enforcement behavior that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is unacceptable to me. It is especially troubling to see that these disparities exist in our communities regardless of how enlightened we think we are. I am cautiously optimistic about the steps I see the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments taking.
Orange County elected officials and health department staff have recongized the immediate need to address poverty in our county. As a result, the Orange County Family Success Alliance has been launched, modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone. The Orange County Health Department used health and school system data to select six zones with the highest need. More information can be found here. Each zone held community meetings to glean information for their applications. They then made short presentations and fielded questions. The Family Success Alliance Advisory Council developed a rubric for scoring of the applications. Below is a collection of tweets that summarize the presentations and selection process carried out on Tuesday, December 16th.
Extensive mold and other serious maintenance issues, unannounced inspections, living with no water, play equipment removed, violence, disrepect by management, inability to use shared resources, children not allowed to play outside.....
Would you be surprised to know that these are just some of the complaints coming from our neighbors who live in affordable housing complexes throughout Orange County (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough)?
Orange County Justice United is partnering with residents in all of these complexes to organize the community, conduct neighborhood audits to acertain the extend of the issues, present these findings to management, and have the issues addressed.
The Gateway Village Apartments in Hillsborough is one such housing complex. A story about our work together can be found here.
We know that there is a shortage of affordable housing in our communities. We must work to ensure that the affordable housing that is available, is welcoming unless we want to be a community of the wealthy.
Recently, the Orange County Health Department launched plans for the Family Success Alliance, modeled after the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone.
With its inception as the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in 1970, the Harlem Children’s Zone aims to disrupt generational poverty with a holistic, long-term approach providing education and support from early childhood through college, supportive services to families to prevent homelessness, and health services including obesity prevention. Serving over 13,000 children and 13,000 adults in 97 blocks of Central Harlem, the engaged children (70% in the served blocks) have a 92% college acceptance rate, 100% of pre-K participants are assessed as school ready, and the 800 local employees fuel economic growth. The Harlem Children’s Zone also serves as the Model for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhood Initiative that has awarded 58 grants to communities across the country to implement similar programs.
We - I've lived in or near Chapel Hill, NC now for almost ten years, I can say 'We.' We are not some two-bit hokey college, out in the sticks. We are the oldest public university in the United States, and one of its largest. We have made great play of our focus on student-athletes. If our esteemed coaches did not know, they should have done. Period. But that, for me, is not the real issue.
Young people come to our university to train to be doctors. To train to be engineers. To train to be stockbrokers. Take a trip through the hallways of our business departments. Our medical facilities. There is no attempt to pretend that students are being made to study other than their chosen vocation. There is no attempt to hide the fact that the best are being recruited, even while at college, for professional berths after college.
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