Friday, May 12, 2006

Durham and a High-Profile Rape Case

There are many different points-of-view concerning the high-profile rape case that involves a self-admitted African-American stripper, mother of two and student at North Carolina Central University and the Duke LaCrosse Team. There are elements to this story that represent many different levels of conflict or, at least, differences in perspective. There are issues of "town versus gown", white versus black, privilege versus poverty and disenfranchisement, male versus female, alcohol abuse, parties gone out of bounds, etc., etc... However, I have not had any definite judgment about what actually happened on that night at 610 North Buchanon Boulevard. In fact, as the case evolved, I have found myself teetering from one news item to the next and swaying back and forth around who seemed to be the victim(s) and who would have been the perpetrators in this case.

What is much more interesting to me is that the city of Durham has taken a very tolerant and non-violent approach to this event. In some cities in the world, the apparent underlying conflicts in a similar incident could lead to riots and violence against individuals and property. Durham has been and remains a peaceful city where, despite some hostility between different groups, people tend to talk about their differences and work them out. I am proud of my city and its citizens.

It has been difficult to watch the national news every night for months and to see Durham presented as a town on the verge of implosion. I think the focus on issues of improving relations between the community and Duke University, and of evaluating race relations among all of our citizens can only make us stronger.

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