Racial & Economic Justice

IFC, Homeless No More?

Is anyone at all surprised to see that the IFC soup kitchen/shelter will not be moving back into the space that they had to leave "temporarily" so the Town could remodel it? You shouldn't be if you read OrangePolitics. I can understand them needing more and better space for their residential programs, but I can't see the free meals they provide being nearly as helpful if they are served a mile away from the center of town. Poor people don't just hang out downtown because there are students to ask for money, it's also near where they work for poverty-level wages (ie: the University).

It also comes as no surprise that downtown merchants will be glad to have the shelter permanently out of their hair. I wonder if the move will have much impact on the panhandling that some people seem to think is the biggest problem we have downtown. (Besides maybe parking, of course!) Only time will tell.

Many criminals have fed the negative stereotypes of homeless people by hanging around the shelter and by giving its address when they're arrested. However:

Black Culture Stands in Spite of UNC Leaders

If you don't know me that well, you might be surprised to learn that I am one of the happiest people in town to witness the long-awaited opening of the free-standing Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at UNC. It's future existence was the primary purpose of my day-to-day existence during my last two years of college. As a member of the Student Coalition for a Free-Standing Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center, I organized marches, spoke at rallies, met with administrators, slept in South Building, and wrote flyers, press releases, and site analysis reports. I dedicated myself to helping the University community understand the compelling need for this institution.

Fireworks Show at Town Hall

There are a variety of hot topics on the the Chapel Hill Town Council agenda tonight. I won't be there in person, but I'll be watching on TV and will report semi-live on this thread as the meeting is in progress.

A few highlights:

Are We Diverse?

Guest Post by Graig Meyer

In the recent WCHL forum on education, an unidentified caller ($50 says it was Gloria Faley) chimed in at the last minute to challenge the notion that we live in a "diverse" community.

Initially I thought "right on" when she pointed out that our town's population is overwhelmingly white and affluent. But then I thought, "Hey, one of the reasons we moved here was for the diversity."

Are we diverse or not?

If you go by population numbers, we're not as diverse as Durham but we're more diverse than many other NC towns. What really bothers me is that people from different cultural groups don't really seem to know one another. Do many members of our white, affluent population maintain friendships with many Latino immigrants or African-Americans who live in Northside.

If we were truly diverse, wouldn't we know each other better and talk a little more?

Graig Meyer coordinates the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School System.

One Step Back

I find it very disheartening to hear that the progress made against racism in the Town of Chapel Hill's Public Works department could be undone by the departure of two leaders. This indicates that not much progress was made at all, which is exactly what the Black Public Works Association (BPWA) would have probably told us in the first place.

The Black Public Works Association also suggested a number of remedies to the problems. Until the recent change in leadership, workers said, the department had made progress on stemming some of the problems pointed out in previous years.

"We know it is impossible to change attitudes, stereotypes and behavior overnight," Steve England, president of the association, said in a letter signed by eight other employees.

"But because there are no black people in the highest levels, we know that leadership will backslide in its commitments to being even nonracist -- much less the anti-racist commitment that should be the goal of all management."- News & Observer, 4/29/04



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