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Upon further examination

by Brian Clarey

As the city of Greensboro makes a permanent shrine to the four college freshmen who created here an epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, we once again confront a legacy of racism that persists in our government and our culture.

It is unfortunate, of course, that the opening of the International Civil Rights Museum was sullied by the decidedly racial undertones of the Ole Asheboro Hotel project, which is no longer slated to exist in Ole Asheboro but which has placed some of our business leaders and elected officials in compromising positions.

The “race card” was not so deftly played by Guilford County School Board member Deena Hayes, who leveled the charge at hoteliers Mike Weaver and Dennis Quaintance when they requested to see all existing government paperwork concerning the recovery zone bonds and every Greensboro project to which they pertain, including the hotel, which would present a challenge to their existing concerns, the O. Henry and the Proximity luxury hotels.

It’s an accusation she’s used before, wielded like a club during school board business ranging from expulsion rates to the use of Tasers to construction. It’s a tough one to sustain when she and her partner, John Greene, both stand to profit handsomely from the Urban Hotel Group project — Greene’s company, JCG & Associates is a major player in the UHB and Hayes is a member of the Ole Asheboro Neighborhood Association, which is still inexplicably linked to the deal.

Hayes even threatened a march on Feb. 1 to protest… what? Government transparency? Public scrutiny of a confusing issue? Free enterprise? No matter. The march has been tabled and it seems as if we can celebrate this quinquagenary milestone with due reverence.

But in instances like this, the YES! Weekly editorial staff — which is made up of white guys — takes the opportunity to examine its own stance for traces of racism.

There’s a lot here to like. We acknowledge that the African- American community lags behind in economic enfranchisement in Greensboro, that a financial base of power leads to other kinds of influence, and that a lack of conventional opportunities forces smart black entrepreneurs to use creative business practices.

And what Bridget Chisholm, developer for the UHG, is doing here — funneling federal bonding allocations into the African- American community to create business opportunity — is something we could get behind, under less hinky circumstances.

But what we see here is not a simple matter of addressing a historical injustice. It looks to us like a money-grab, all too common among elected officials and well-connected business owners of every color. It — like racism itself — is the kind of thing this newspaper was created to fight against.

So here we are, tilting against the windmill as plans for the hotel unfold. And at the same time, we sure are proud that the museum has opened in downtown Greensboro. It looks great.

YES! Weekly chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration

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