Perhaps like me you’re reading everything that you can about HB2. I would encourage everyone to continue to keep following the HB2 controversy. It’s a really legislative over-reach by the North Carolina GOP. HB2 was meant to fire up the NC GOP’s base, as racism and bigotry have galvanized conservative forces in North Carolina, going back to at least 1898. We should all relish in the fact that Governor McCrory is facing a political backlash of epic proportions, including pressure from large corporations with a presence in North Carolina.
The consensus opposing HB2 has been heartening. It’s been great to see LGBTQ folks step out of the shadows and articulately speak up for their rights. I am excited to see young LGBTQ folks enter the political sphere for the first time. Politics shouldn’t be left to old white straight people who have nothing better to do than vote.
But there are other issues that we can’t ignore. The last few years have seen major gains for #LGBTQ folks in our state. With 2012’s Amendment One overturned in 2014, gays finally got the right to marry if they so chose. This was a victory that many pundits said wouldn’t be won in our lifetimes. Protection against workplace and housing discrimination are still needed in NC. But despite HB2 I feel like as a state North Carolina is moving towards treating #LGBTQ folks equally under the law-admittedly we need to pick up the pace of change.
One thing that isn’t changing in North Carolina, in fact it’s only getting worse is the plight of low-income African Americans. With the offshoring of manufacturing jobs and the growth of service sector, temp/contract jobs, under-educated urban African Americans are being left further and further behind. In North Carolina this is perhaps most obvious in Winston-Salem. Just a half-mile away from the luxury condos, restaurants and art galleries on Trade Street you’ll find old, semi-delipidated Section 8 housing off of MLK. This is just a short drive, but these two neighborhood’s are worlds away.
A City Divided: The Resurgent Downtown and the Abandoned Urban Core, Triad City Beat’s Jordan Green does an excellent job of weaving in important statistical data with Marquita Wisley’s first hand account of life in East Winston. I encourage everyone to read this story. It has needed to be written for a long time. There has been so much money invested into Downtown Winston since Mayor Joines took office. Downtown Winston is a major success story. By contrast East Winston is a neglect story. A lot of attention has been focused on Downtown Winston, including write up by the New York Times, no less. But just down the street, in the shadows East Winston’s plight has been largely ignored.
More has to be done to help East Winston. It can’t continue to be a resource deprived community. What Mayor Joines did for Downtown Winston he needs to attempt to do for East Winston. This won’t be easy, but the city can’t give up on it’s majority African American and Latino communities. Winston likes to market itself as “The City of Arts and Innovation.” The city needs to come up with some innovative solutions to aid East Winston. Winston-Salem shouldn’t continue to be a twin city defined by inequality of haves and have-nots. African Americans built Winston-Salem. Their labor was instrumental to the fortunes of R.J. Reynolds and many other wealthy white industrialists of that era. Black neighborhoods like Depot Street, Belews Street and The Pond-neighborhoods they were pushed out of by Urban Renewal are now the most dynamic, most expense neighborhoods in the city. The city of Winston-Salem owes a debt to East Winston and it’s time for East Winston to collect.