News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Friday, June 10, 2005
News: Power, poverty and Pinehurst
For as long as I can remember, my home state, North Carolina, has been a vacation Valhalla for the wealthy. Among its attractions are some of the best golf courses in the country. Two weeks from now, the Pinehurst area will host the most prestigious of tournaments -- the United States Open. 'Pinehurst' is not just a name for me. My mother grew up there. Among the things I would notice when I visited as a child was the absence of running water and indoor toilets in many homes in what was referred to as "the colored section." Well, decades have passed. But, that has not changed. The New York Times recently painted a portrait of the two faces of Pinehurst, privilege for the white and middle-class, poverty for the black and poor.
Local officials' responses to inquiries about why such broad differences exist are a study in knowing and unknowing race and class bias. Paternalism predominates. The white people who hold power in Moore County believe they know what's best for black population there -- the status quo.
Let a Southerner translate those remarks for you.
Holden -- We will do as little for'em as we can get away with. Give'em sewers and they'll want garbage pick up and police services next.
Zell -- If I can convince a good darkie or two to disagree with a need for sewers, running water and garbage pickup, that nixes the deal. The others? Bad ones. Outside agitators must've got to'em. You folks said y'all from Nu Yawk?
Quis -- Racism? So what?
Saunders -- I love'm when they stay in their place.
There is no real reason why the kinds of services most Americans take for granted can't be extended to the African-American communities around Pinehurst. Moore County is the eighteenth most wealthy in the state. The county's median income exceeds the national average. It can easily afford to provide basic services to the 500 or so households in the blighted areas. Those residents continue to live in Third World conditions because the people in power approve of the status quo.
• National Public Radio in North Carolina is examining the revealing economic disparities in the Pinehurst area.
• Listen to a NPR report about one of the African-American enclaves, Jackson Hamlet.posted by J. | 11:00 PM