Skepticism and hope for equity impacts of Charleston 10-year plan

By Health Ellison, Charleston City Paper

The city of Charleston’s update to its 10-year comprehensive plan at a time of social upheaval seems serendipitous. With conversations about race and reconciliation hurled into the spotlight over recent months. With “strength in diversity” as a core value of the new plan, activists and Black leaders remain cautious of the city’s claims of attempted racial equity.

“This plan really is an amazing opportunity, I just don’t have any faith in this current city council, this current mayor,” said Charleston Activist Network director Tamika Gadsden. “This plan is the right thing, it’s the enforcement of the plan that I’m leery of.”

North Charleston moves closer to a racial bias audit of police department. What’s next.

By Gregory Yee, The Post and Courier

North Charleston officials moved closer to a long-awaited racial bias audit of their police department following a presentation on Thursday night by the firm CNA, which conducted Charleston’s audit last year.

The city’s Police Evaluation Research Committee heard from a panel of experts at CNA, who appeared via a Zoom video conference. During the hourlong meeting, CNA staff and consultants laid out their scope for an audit should the city hire the firm and answered questions from City Council members. 

Commentary: Charleston schools must change culture to challenge inequities

By Elise Davis McFarland and Cynthia Mann, Post and Courier

An Aug. 5 article in The Post and Courier reports that educational equity in Charleston-area schools “remains an issue,” based on a survey of parents in the tri-county area showing 54% believe that all students have an equal opportunity for a “quality” education. Forty-four percent of black parents say the system is “broken.”

The story’s newsworthiness was driven by the fact that the COVID pandemic will only worsen existing inequality, but the story does not get close to the heart of the problem. Instead, it has Teach for America’s Courtney Waters, a candidate for the Charleston County School Board, telling us the “first step toward a solution” lies in bringing conversations about race and equity to the surface. We couldn’t agree more.

Civil rights groups and Charleston police discuss racial justice amid increased policing of downtown

By Health Ellison, Charleston City Paper

Charleston Police Department participated in a racial justice town hall Thursday evening hosted by the AND Campaign, a Christian social justice organization. The meeting included a racial justice panel discussion with representatives from the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Action Network and others.

“Police were always invented for one purpose: to protect property and white people from black people and to keep black people in their place,” said Nelson Rivers of the National Action Network. “Because of that, policing has always been about keeping me down, keeping me invisible or keeping me in my place.”

CCSD staff gets trained in ‘cultural competency’ during pandemic

By Anne Emerson, ABC 4 News

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — The CCSD reactivation task force charged with reopening schools said that we face dual crises at the moment, both the pandemic and the call for social justice. Neither can wait for the other to be resolved.

Right now, CCSD says it’s moving forward with training its staff in what it terms “cultural competency.”