Sunday, June 20, 2010

Barriers Between Us

GREENVILLE - The Rev. Frank Hall felt that the Delta Democrat Times’ recent community forum at the Washington County Convention Center, was good for Greenville. However, he was disappointed with the turnout of a segment of the city’s population.

The forum on home invasion was held May 20.

“I felt there should’ve been more African Americans there,” said Hall, pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. “Many of the crimes that occur in the city, like it or not, happen to African Americans and, like it or not, happen in the African American community. It was disappointing to see the turnout didn’t have more African Americans, especially when you consider that the city is 70 percent African American.”

Because of the poor showing, Hall is hosting a community forum on crime at the church, 322 North Street, June 24, at 6 p.m.

“I want everyone to come out,” said Hall. “And I do mean everyone. It is open to everyone because the crime problem in this city is everyone’s problem.

“I’ve had whites at my church, and they have been welcomed and will most certainly be welcomed at the forum,” he said. “We need to hear from everyone.”

Hall decided to hold the forum because “perhaps people couldn’t get to the convention center for whatever reason,” he said. “By having it in the community, at a community church, we’ll be able to reach those people.

“A lot of good ideas and information was shared at the last forum,” said Hall. “ Many of the people in the African American community should’ve been there to hear what was said.”

If I am not mistaken, this forum was originally scheduled at a local high school. It was subsequently moved because of the concern that the "white" community would not venture into the location of that particular high school.

Now the African American community is claiming low participation at the forum because "people couldn't get to the convention center for whatever reason". I think this speaks volumes about the state of race relations in Greenville.

The truth is, that neither race wants to accept responsibility for what Greenville has become. Sure we can all gather at the convention center (or in a cotton field) to celebrate the blues... because it is the one remaining thing that is marketable about the Delta. The area that was once noted for its culture, art and literary figures is now touted as the "Crime Capitol of the State".

So, how did we get there? Was it "white flight" from integrated schools over the past 30 years, or was it the "entitlement mentality" of reparations that society still owes a great debt? The answer is both! It is quite clear by now that changing the "color" of our local leaders has had no effect on Greenville's spiraling demise.

With the race card out of the way, you have to look at cultural values to define Greenville... and that is where there is a great divide! You can not expect cultures to ever mesh when the two races work so hard to be separate. If the residents of Greenville can not even agree on a common location to discuss the fact that crime is ruining every one's lives, there is little hope left to turn Greenville around.