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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Charlotte Works to Build More Interracial Trust

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It’s not often that a whole city decides to take a good look at itself. But that's just what civic leaders in Charlotte, N.C. decided to do after a Harvard study ranked that city next to last in interracial trust. The group created a project called Crossroads Charlotte to discuss how organizations in the city could begin to help Charlotte's citizens trust one another more.

In late April, organizations in Charlotte unveiled programs that will work to make the city a better place for all of its residents, according to The Charlotte Observer. More than 35 groups are working on Crossroads projects that will be announced in three waves.

Here are some of the innovative Crossroads programs that have started or will start soon (Reported by The Charlotte Observer):

Arts & Science Council
Will work to increase access to cultural programs by investing in racially and ethnically diverse communities and groups such as Latino arts organizations along the Central Avenue/Albemarle Road corridor.

Central Piedmont Community College and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public library
Teaming to offer literacy and English as a Second Language classes at library branches.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee
Producing a play about race relations.

Crisis Assistance Ministry
Focusing on increasing the community's awareness of people in poverty.

Johnson C. Smith University
Expanding its Saturday Academy, a program for academically struggling students.

Mecklenburg Ministries
Continuing its Friday Friends program, which asks people of different races to have lunch together regularly.

University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Launching a Crossroads-centered curriculum as part of its general education program for all students. As part of the multiple-course program, students will work on community projects that help foster interracial trust.

WTVI-TV
Producing a series of documentaries about the history and life of local ethnic communities, and airing the final report of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African American Agenda, a group trying to find solutions for problems facing the black community.

Charlotte’s estimated population is approximately 610,900, and Nashville’s is 607,400. Wouldn’t it be nice if Nashville could follow Charlotte’s lead and develop a Crossroads Nashville? Who can we call to get such an effort started?

10 comments:

Anne said...

Alicia, I love this! Is it o.k. If I give a link to this post on my blog? I'll try to send a copy of the news article to a few people in my area too. I think more communities should do these things.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Anne,
I'm glad you like the post. By all means--do your thing and link to this post on your blog.
Cheers!

Slartibartfast said...

This is very, very cool.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Slartbartfast,
It would be cool for Nashville too!

Joe Shedlock said...

There are often attempts to compare Nashville to Charlotte, N.C. But I do not believe they really compare--or if they do, they mostly compare in favor of Charlotte.

I am told that a person can move to Charlotte and immediately begin to participate in the community, public affairs, local government, and be accepted. That really is not so here in Nashville, where newcomers are looked down on and people are only "accepted" after quite a length of time. The fact that we have two candidates for Mayor with family names that stretch back into the history of Nashville is indicative of Nashville's comfort with a hereditary elite.

I think the idea of having interracial dialog in Nashville is a good thing, but trust issues are complicated. For example, I (a white person) do not trust the Mayor, most Metro department heads, nor most local elected officials--what some people might call "the white power structure." I would not recommend that black people trust them either. But I don't see this as so much a racial issue as a "politician" issue.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Joe,
Thanks for commenting!
I'm glad to hear that Charlotte gets such a favorable rating, since I hope to visit Charlotte more in the future.
I've heard many people say that Nashvillians can be a bit cliquish, but perhaps it's the the hereditary elite problem that you've mentioned that's preventing Nashville from shining as brightly as Charlotte.

Anne said...

Happy Mother's Day. :)

Alicia Benjamin said...

Thanks, Anne. The same to you. Most of the day was nice. The evening presented a few challenges but God got me through it.
:-)

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thanks to Anne, I found this posting. Binding the wound of racial anxiety is a good offer toward transcending into a color-blind society. We do well here in Fort Worth, Texas. But this is still redneck cowboy country. I once wrote that a Texan could not recognize a racist, even in a mirror- which takes me back to my belief that racism is a psychological disorder, as pointed out by Francis Holland blog.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Eddie,
Thanks for commenting.
I commend the city of Charlotte for starting this effort. We soooo need something like this in Nashville. I've been thinking about who I can send this Crossroads Charlotte information to so that we can start the ball rolling in Nashville. Sounds like you're doing great work in Fort Worth!