Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I left Durham with unresolved business

Moving from a community you love feels like the end of a long relationship.  Packing bags and moving on is tough to do when you have unfinished business.

That’s how I’m feeling today – like there’s too much in Durham, NC left unresolved. You see, I still love her.  She’s a city like no other, and I did marry her a few years back.

Don’t get me wrong, Columbia, MO has a lot to offer. It’s just not the same.   I keep comparing her to Durham. It’s not fair to limit my affection based on what used to be, but I still have feelings that make it hard to let go.

The coffee isn’t the same, there isn’t much diversity, I can’t find a Whole Foods, and, and.  My list is making me cry.  I have to let her go.  It’s difficult to see the good in the new when you’re trapped in loving the old.

Moving on is harder when you walk away with a bag of unresolved business.  There’s so much I wanted to say before leaving.  I didn’t get a chance to address a few matters that have haunted me since leaving. So, let me share what’s on my mind.

I left with concerns related to the mentally ill. The death of Derek Walker left a foul taste in my spirit. I never got a chance to share my disdain for the way he was gunned down by police after pleading to be killed with a gun to his head.  It troubles me that so many watched him die with tears flowing because he couldn’t find the courage to live.

I’m tormented that police officers had to pull the trigger. They didn’t want to see Walker die.  I worry about the mental health of the officers involved in the incident, and how people are quick to throw stones at those who did their very best not to kill Walker.  I’m hurting for everyone involved – his 5-year-old son, his mother, his family and a village grappling to understand why it had to end this way?

With that being said, what is going on with Durham’s Police Department. After a series of questionable actions by the police, one has to wonder if there is the emergence of a culture within the police department that assumes brute force and racial profiling as normative strategies in enforcing the law.

The death of Jose Adan Cruz, the uncalled for beating and arrest of Stephanie Nickerson, and the dubious arrest of Carlos Riley, Jr. hint that it may be time for new leadership at the police department.  It doesn’t help that Police Chief Jose Lopez is accused of saying Attorney David Hall deserved to be shot because he works as a public defender.

I have lots to say about Durham’s City Council election. The analysis on this election is loaded with potential lasting implications. Let me share a few.

What is the significance to Durham having political leaders that don’t reflect the age of the population they serve?  As the average age Durham decreases, and the hipster crowd reshapes the culture of the city, what does it say about the political machinery of Durham that youth are locked out due to the influence of Durham’s PAC’s?

Omar Beasley is positioned to add youth to the City Council, but faces stiff opposition from Eddie Davis who received 59% of the votes in the primary compared to Beasley’s 21%.  That gap advances speculation that black voters are opting to reject the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People due to issues with the organizations leadership.

The contest between Davis and Beasley continues the battle of supremacy between Durham’s PAC’s. If Davis wins, serious issues will follow the Durham Committee after a battle between two highly capable, black candidates.  Watch the black vote in Durham to quantify the hold the Durham Committee has on black voters.

Finally, what impact will the Rolling Hills development have on extending economic development beyond the downtown core? Even more pressing is the role North Carolina Central University will serve in revitalizing the area decimated by urban renewal.  The area known as Hayti reaped a death when the Durham Freeway was built to connect Durham to the Research Triangle Park.  Hundreds of black owned businesses were displaced.

What will happen next?

If downtown development can be used as a clue, Durham will witness massive gentrification that will shift the demographics of the inner city core.  The change will be celebrated as growth, but what are the consequences of all that change?

I have so much to talk about.  Maybe I can move on and love my new home the way she deserves.  Maybe I should start writing her love letters.  Not a bad thought.  That’s what commentary is for me – a love letter to the world about things that matter to me.

Love endures.

1 comment:

  1. Carl, I hope you'll find a comfortable niche in MO, the great friends you deserve and a revival of the creative instincts that made you such a great contributor to life in Durham. Since I've been through the same transition, please trust me when I say that there is life beyond Durham.