Thursday, May 29, 2008

meeting in the middle

The NYT has a story today about Portland's Restorative Listening Project, an effort to have "white people better understand the effect gentrification can have on the city's longtime black and other-minority neighborhoods."

"Once armed with a broader perspective, said Judith Mowry, the project’s leader, whites should 'make the commitment that the harm stops with us.' That might mean that whites appeal to the city to help black businesses or complain to companies that put fliers on the doors of black property owners encouraging them to sell."

The project, as I understand it, involves a series of meetings where people of color tell about racism and discrimination they have faced. The story notes that at least one participant said, "Where's this meeting going? No place. People get there and vent their frustrations, but who hears it?" Another said it was an example of white people trying to take her history.

Locally, CA columnist Wendi Thomas is leading an initiative called Common Ground. I applaud her for stepping up to do so.

Memphis is still a tale of two cities. Or a city divided, if you prefer.

I was talking to Divine Mafa yesterday and he said, "White people tell me there are a lot of black people downtown. Black people tell me there are a lot of white people downtown. Instead of being united, they act as if one particular race is supposed to be in one particular place."

And that right there is probably Memphis' biggest problem.

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