The growth of equality: how the Community Building Initiative works to strengthen local communities
Posted on 24 May 2012 by Embra King
The state of the world can seem pretty bleak these days; the news filled with suicide bombers, financial meltdowns, political dishonesty and racially charged crimes. This news is being processed and fed to us by those who are willing to point fingers at everyone but themselves who they deem responsible for all that is unjust. There is no wonder that we as a society have formed very negative impressions of our society. The fact of the matter however, is that we are living in a time of great social progress, tolerance and peace when compared to past generations. Our negative social opinions are thanks in large part to a constant stream of horrid news, photos and stories that we can now access anywhere at anytime. This onslaught of unsavory news is something that didn’t exist even as little as a decade ago. Bad news makes for higher viewership. Thus all the stories on crime and murder are pushed to the forefront of broadcasts, he positive growth we have made from generation to generation being pushed aside. Now I am not denying that there is plenty of hate, corruption and injustice still present in Charlotte and across the globe, but we must not overlook the huge gains in civil progress we have made over the last hundred years. This is thanks in part to groups such as the Community Building Initiative, dedicated to forming stronger communities and cultural bonds in order to form a world of increased social and racial acceptance.
As a nonprofit organization established in 1997, CBI has been working within the Charlotte area to help build and strengthen local communities. Established by local government and civic leaders, CBI has been helping Charlotte residents address and combat cultural, economic and social issues. They do this by providing educational programs geared towards leadership and personal development, as well as creating safe platforms in which anyone can come and converse on controversial topics. It is during these safe open discussions that individuals get a chance to learn, listen and discuss topics that need to be handled with care and sensitivity. CBI has recently hosted two such events designed to allow people to discuss openly topics that have held a great deal of media attention over the past couple months.
The first event was an open discussion on April 11th centered on the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a community watch member in Florida. His death made headlines thanks to the racial implications that swirled around the shooting. Across the entire country the story was given a huge portion of airtime, generating a lot of public outcry on both sides of how the case should be handled. CBI held a group discussion lead by leaders within the community. After the presentations, the audience was split into groups and asked to discuss questions such as “why is what happened so disturbing”, and “could this happen here in Charlotte?” The event gave community members the opportunity to come together and discuss the impact of the event with their peers helping them grasp and better understand the situation.
On a different front, on May 1st, CBI sponsored a diverse panel to speak on Amendment One, addressing both sides of the argument as well as the legal ramifications if it were to be passed. It was a great opportunity for all to gather and hear about the proposed changes to North Carolina’s marriage law. Over a 100 Charlotte residents attended the event, taking advantage of the chance to hear and express opinions on the Amendment that was being voted on as this article was written. The ability for communities to come together and hear all sides of an issue will help create a better-informed society. As a result, community members will be voting based on an opinion that is derived from the gathering and analyzing of knowledge, rather than basing ideas on one-sided arguments. Our communities suffer when opinions are formed based on what we think we know, rather than searching for and analyzing facts and ideas on both sides.
CBI welcomes all to join them in their discussions on issues of racial inequality and social justice. To grow and come together as a community, we must learn to listen to all sides of an issue. CBI is creating stronger communities by providing a safe and open environment for anyone to come and discuss important community topics. To find a schedule of up coming events or to learn more about CBI, visit their website at communitybuildinginitiative.org.
There is inequality and injustice in the world. We must strive to form stronger community ties to progress towards equality and justice. It is easy for us to stand back and pass blame to others for these social issues, but our communities will never truly be whole until we are able to look in the mirror and accept some of the responsibility as our own. With the help of organizations such as CBI, we can all do our part in building a better Charlotte, now and for future generations.