Annual ‘Community Read’ at O.C. Library: ‘My Black Family, My White Privilege’
On Monday, March 31, the Orange County Main Library hosts its annual Community Read.
As always, all members of the community are invited to come in and read a book together. This year’s selection is My Black Family, My White Privilege: A White Man’s Journey Through the Nation’s Racial Minefield by Michael Wenger.
Michael R. Wenger is a Senior Fellow at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a public policy institution in Washington, D.C.
He’s also former deputy director for outreach and Program Development for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race.
Wenger says he’s been involved in the civil rights movement since college. Today, he teaches classes on race at George Washington University.
His book, My Black Family, My White Privilege, takes a hard look at how white privilege manifests itself in practice in American society.
Wenger says his journey through our nation’s racial minefield had been both personal and professional.
Personally, it started with his first marriage in 1970.
“I was married to an African-American woman from rural North Carolina,” he says. “She came to that marriage with two little girls, who I helped raise. Their father had passed away. And we had a son of our own.”
Today he’s married to a white woman. As a result of his former marriage, his diverse family includes three children, four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
As a father of African-American children, he experienced how discrimination manifests itself in schools.
“What we found, with our children growing up, is we had to keep on teachers on a regular basis because they just expected less from our children, even though our children are extremely bright, and have been very successful.” 5
Later on, he says, one of his daughters faced racial and gender discrimination in the workplace.
“These are things that, if you’re white, you simply don’t confront. And most white people live in their own sort of cocoons and are not aware of the issues that people of color confront on a daily basis.”
Those can include trying to catch a cab, or a person being singled out as an example of their race.
Wenger acknowledges that things are significantly better than they were 50 years ago in the areas of education, professional life and political leadership. But we are still far from being a post-racial society.
He says the criminal justice system is a dramatic example.
“These are some of the things that I talk about in the book, and some of the things that I think, if white people understood more fully, they would be more open to the issues that we confront today.”
The two-hour event starts at 6 p.m. at the Orange County Main Library.
Wenger will be there to speak about his experiences, and answer questions.
BoCC Looks At Brewer Lane For Branch Library
CHAPEL HILL- As Orange County officials continue the search for a site to build the southwest branch of the Orange County library, commissioners say they want to explore the possibility of putting the library in a yet-to-be-built mixed-use development at 120 Brewer Lane in Carrboro.
Board Chair Barry Jacobs said the collaboration could have economic advantages for the town and county.
“If we bring people to Brewer Lane, it will enhance the economic development in downtown Carrboro, which benefits Orange County,” said Jacobs. “It’s a destination site. They will go there, park their car or get off the bus, and they will walk around.”
County staffers said the Brewer Lane site was preferable to other downtown Carrboro locations suggested by the Board of Aldermen, because a town-owned parking lot at 203 South Greensboro would likely pose access and parking challenges, while space in the 300 East Main development would be too expensive.
A suggestion from the aldermen that the county look into buying the property at 201 North Greensboro currently owned by CVS was quickly shot down.
“The main issue here for us is, number one, the property is not for sale, and number two, we believe the cost to procure the property will be extreme,” Planner Michael Harvey told the board. “Quite honestly we believe the money could be better spent in other forms and fashions.”
In addition to the Brewer Lane location, the board also expressed interest in a site on Hillsborough Road adjacent to the Martin Luther King Jr Park, and a site on Fidelity Street next to the Westwood Cemetery.
All three locations would need to be vetted by planners, engineers and technical consultants. The in-depth analysis could cost as much as $15,000 per site.
The board agreed that if technical analysis ruled out one of the three, county staffers should reconsider the parking lot at 203 South Greensboro as an alternate site.
No matter where the branch ends up, commissioners say they want to be clear that it won’t be a duplicate of the Chapel Hill Public Library or the Main Library in Hillsborough.
“Because the Chapel Hill library already exists so close, we want to be clear we’re not going to duplicate services,” said Jacobs. “We’re not doing a 20,000 square foot library. We’re doing a library that serves the southwestern part of the county.”
Officials say the public will have a chance to weigh in after the analysis of each site has been completed.
BoCC To Discuss Southern Branch Library Location
ORANGE COUNTY – County commissioners will hear an update on the search for a site for the Southern Branch Library at a work session Thursday.
County staffers say only three of the seven locations suggested by Carrboro and Orange County officials are suitable for the next phase of evaluation.
These include a site on Brewer Lane in a future mixed-use development, a site on Fidelity Street next to the Westwood Cemetary, and a site on Hillsborough Street near the Martin Luther King Jr.Park.
Commissioners will discuss the next steps in the process, which could include an in-depth analysis of each site. County officials say that could cost up to $15,000 dollars per location.
The board will also review the Orange County Library’s strategic plan and review design plans for constructing a public meeting space in Hillsborough’s historic Whitted Building.
The board meets Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road.
County Commissioners Call Library Plan Too Vague
CHAPEL HILL- Orange County Commissioners received the first draft of the Orange County Library’s three-year strategic plan on Tuesday, and although the project involved 800 contributors and took nearly a year to complete, some on the board said it’s not what the county needs to move forward.
“When are there going to be specific action items to implement these objectives?” asked Mark Dorosin. “This is a very lovely report and presentation, but it’s a very zoomed-out view.”
The study was paid for by a grant from the state.
It surveyed residents and library staffers about what services they value in the Orange County Library. Access to books, internet connectivity and youth activities ranked as top priorities. Respondents also said they want to see greater cooperation between the county library system and the Chapel Hill Public Library.
Orange County Library Director Lucinda Munger said she’s already collaborating with the new director of the Chapel Hill Public Library on how to better work together.
“We don’t know exactly what [that is] going to be, but that’s part of the 21st century library that we’ve all talked about and wondered about, a greater cooperation between libraries in a similar area,” said Munger. “Libraries, no matter what they are or how well-funded they are, can’t really stand alone anymore.”
The draft strategic plan did not address the Southern Branch Library currently being discussed by county commissioners and Carrboro Aldermen.
The aldermen recently added four possible sites to the county’s list of potential locations, and indicated that a site on Brewer Lane in the planned Butler mixed-use development is favored by town leaders.
When it comes to strategic planning, Board Chair Barry Jacobs said county leaders need more details from library staff.
“This is like the foundation,” said Jacobs. “But we have some decisions to make that are pretty specific and we’d like to do them in the next fiscal year.”
Munger told the board that the draft plan was only designed to set broad goals for the library system. She said she would return with a specific action plan for consideration in late September, along with an analysis of the potential branch locations.
News Around Town: Teen Tech Week; Il Palio’s Chef Serves The Sick
CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Library is hosting Teen Tech Week March 10-17 and will involve a meme contest and a special gaming event.
Participants in the meme contest are asked to design a funny, catchy image that says something about the library and are to submit memes between March 1 and March 17. The winner will receive a $25 Visa Gift Card.
The special gaming event is an invitation for everyone ranging from ages 11-18 to come play Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect, board games, cards, and more on Wednesday March, 13 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Attendees can bring games as well.
The Teen Book Club will meet Sunday March, 17 at 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is open to ages 11-18.
For more information on the meme contest, visithttp://www.co.orange.nc.us/library/MemeContest.asp
The executive Chef of Il Palio Italian restaurant Adam Rose has been invited to help lead UNC’s Health Care industry in supplying restaurant quality food to patients and guests.
Chef Rose will work with Food Services Director Angelo Mojica in this innovative effort.
In the lobby of the Children’s Hospital on Tuesday March, 26 from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., Chef Rose will collaborate with UNC’s Executive Chef Shawn Dolan to cook an Il Palio lunch special that will be featured for patients at the hospital’s Terrace Café.