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Conversation about race in the city of Dallas

Dallas Examiner | 9/30/2013, 7:45 a.m. | Updated on 9/30/2013, 7:52 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

I want to commend Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Councilman Dwaine Caraway and County Commissioner Elba Garcia for initiating Conversations about Race, a dialogue and discussion about race. It was an honor for me to participate as one of five invited panelists.

It was held Saturday at the new Dallas City Performance Hall across from Booker T. Washington High School.

It was a good discussion that we needed to have, a discussion about race. This was the first of a four-part series hosted by the city of Dallas. For some reason people don’t want to talk about race. Some say racial problems no longer exist. They see the playing field as even.

However, the playing field is not even.

There are problems that exist today that are relative to race. Those problems can’t be solved unless we have knowledge of the life experiences of Black people in Dallas.

Institutional racism is real. Today Blacks do not have equal access to opportunities and many services in our city.

Blacks in the city have:

• Higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease than other citizens.

• Higher incidences of HIV/AIDS than other citizens.

• Higher unemployment rates than other racial groups.

• Decaying neighborhoods with fewer businesses.

• Unequal access to capital for small businesses.

• Limited access to business opportunities.

The clock is turning back. Many of the gains made by Blacks in the past have been lost or are being taken away, because people choose to believe that the playing field is even for Blacks.

In order for Dallas to be the city we want it to be, we must find solutions to these problems. Dallas citizens have to be open to taking steps necessary to solve these problems.

I love Dallas. I was born in Dallas in Pinkston Clinic 70 years ago, in what is now called uptown or the historic Thomas and Hall District. I attended segregated schools in Dallas, had to sit in the back of the bus, could only go to the State Fair of Texas on “Negro Day.”

I realized Saturday that I have a lot to share that may make things better. I left the discussion at the Dallas City Performance Hall thinking that I have so much more to say about the past and about solutions.

Therefore, I have decided to use this space on the editorial page of The Dallas Examiner to speak to Dallas. Hopefully, you will read my column every week and hear what I am saying. I will be writing about my experiences – I grew up in a segregated society, witnessed the Civil Rights Movement, the integration of public housing and other public facilities like libraries and services, but now I live and experience a society where things are broken and need fixing for Black people.

I look forward to receiving your comments to my editorial.

Let us have a frank and open discussion about race and how we can help Dallas heal and be a better city for all citizens.

To participate in the conversation, send your letters to letters@dallasexaminer.com.