Not everybody who opposed renaming Airport Road was racist. But enough tension emerged from the debate for the town to appoint a "Continuing Concerns Committee." Fast forward four years, and the committee -- now called the Justice in Action Committee -- is about to hold its first major public event.
"Are We a Town Divided," a community forum, wil take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in Chapel Hill. We'll have a story about it in Wednesday's Chapel Hill News (wait until then for this link to take you there). The forum will include a showing of a documentary on the famous blue eyes/brown eyes experiment, which if you haven't seen it is unnerving, to say the least.
Race and ethnic tension has flared in our community in the past week. Latino residents have protested new rules at a Carrboro complex that has been towing cars of some residents, some of them illegal immigrants. A barbed wire fence has gone up at a second Carrboro complex, generating more concern.
In Chapel Hill, our tensions are more subtle., perhaps because our housing prices make ours a more homogenous town. When Delores Bailey of EmPOWERment, gave our staff a Northside tour a few weeks ago, she remarked how the once predominantly black neighborhood had gone from 85 percent owner-occupied to about 15 percent owner-occupied. Chapel Hill's Hispanic population is also low. So at least in this town, we can't talk about race without talking about socioeconomic challenges, another topic of Thursday's discussion.
What do you think about the state of race relations in the Chapel Hill/Orange County area? Tell us what 's good and what could be better. Tell us what people don't like to say or talk about. If we get enough responses, we'll print some with coverage of Thursday's meeting in the Sunday Chapel Hill News.