Bahai News - Race relations have improved as tally of minorities grows

Race relations have improved as tally of minorities grows

Published on:Monday, March 26, 2001
By Chondra McLean
The SUN NEWS


By Mark AdamsThe Sun NewsRose and Dan McCoy dance during a Baha'i celebration of spring and the new year Wednesday at the Grand Strand Senior Center.

Horry County is becoming whiter as the percentage of blacks in the total population dwindles, census numbers show, but some say relations between the races are better than in the past.
Programs promoting diversity and efforts by groups and individuals to bridge the racial gap are making a difference, residents say.
"Horry County is doing a lot of work to encourage multiculturalism and people interacting across racial lines," said Adalia Ellis, an Horry County native and member of the Baha'i religion, which encourages interaction among the races. "So what if we don't get an overnight perfect thing? At least people are working on it."
Some of those efforts include the Horry County Cultural Arts Council, which seeks to expose all races to the arts; county programs geared toward educating locals about black history; and outreach by members of the Baha'i faith. While Horry County increased by about 50,000 people with a jump of 40,000 whites and 4,000 blacks since 1990, the percentage of blacks in the total population has decreased from 17 percent to 15 percent.
The county also has 794 American Indians, 1,498 Asians, 5,057 Hispanics and 121 native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders groups that have all increased in population since 1990.
Most of the newcomers to the county are white retirees from the Northeast seeking a warmer climate, said Mike McFarlane, a demographer with the state Budget and Control Board's Office of Research and Statistics.
Beverly Clark, who moved to Horry County eight years ago from Connecticut, said she has seen improved race relations here.
Clark is a member of the Bike Week Task Force, which seeks to improve how the area deals with visitors during the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bike Festival and Harley-Davidson Bike Week.
"I came in when there was trouble with the Atlantic Beach Bike Festival," she said.
"People were saying, `Put them on a ship and take them out and drown them,"' Clark said about white people's views of the festival, which attracts more than 100,000 people mostly black to the Grand Strand annually.
The task force has helped soothe tensions surrounding the event by encouraging police and local residents to be more sensitive and receptive to festival-goers, she said.
"Now, everyone is only concerned about how to make it better," Clark said. "We don't have people on one side, one on the other side and people in the middle. We have one group."
That describes the philosophy of Baha'i practitioners, consisting locally of about 200 people of all races, said Jo Ann Borovicka, a board member of the S.C. Baha'i Training Institute.
Local Baha'is make constant strides toward racial unity through educational programs and daily interaction with different races through social activities, she said. As a result, she said, stereotypes are destroyed.
"We learn so much from each other," Borovicka said. "We all make assumptions about people and find it isn't so."
But Horry County still has a long way to go, said Tracy Graham, who has directed several black history plays for Horry County's Parks and Recreation Department. Graham sits on the board of the Horry County Cultural Arts Council.
"The more people outside Horry County who come here, the more it has to change," she said. "People born and raised in Horry County are seeing things one way. That's to be respected, but we must be open to others for oneness."
Harold "Buster" Hatcher, chief of the Conway-based Chicora-Waccamaw Indian People, agrees.
He said he has tried to educate people throughout the state about American Indians via radio, television and other outlets.
While Hatcher said he believes the everyday Horry County resident is a good person who loves other people, some aren't and won't change their minds, he said.
"Hopefully, most of the folks who come here will be wise enough to know that people are people, regardless of the color of their skin," Hatcher said. "When everyone intermarries and comes out the same color of brown, maybe we'll accept each other for who we are."

Race relations have improved as tally of minorities grows

Published on:Monday, March 26, 2001
By Chondra McLean
The SUN NEWS


By Mark AdamsThe Sun NewsRose and Dan McCoy dance during a Baha'i celebration of spring and the new year Wednesday at the Grand Strand Senior Center.


©Copyright 2001, The Sun News

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