By Mark A. Leon
This commentary is brushed with admiration and fueled by optimism, but must be posed with an air of caution, because with change comes adjustment; with adjustment, comes resistance.? Given the rapidly changing landscape, education and acceptance are critical for ensuring a positive future for Charleston.
Last week, a story broke centering around an attack on a transgender female outside a downtown Charleston nightclub.? This led to questions on whether this was a targeted attack.? Yet, a hush remains over the community.? As an active resident for many years, I have observed some clear cultural practices:
- This is a culture that bottles up emotion and works hard to “not” rock the boat
- There is limited government activism and strength in rallying over a cause
- There is deeply embedded resentment and separation between rich and poor; black and white
We hear that Charleston is the friendliest city in the country and one of the top destinations for new residents and career opportunities, but look at some other issues that will arise as we continue to become one of the fastest growing regions in the South and the country.
- If Charleston is one of the friendliest and most welcome cities in the country, why did the government feel the need to apologize for slavery, an act that was abolished over 150 years ago?
- If it is necessary to remove slavery from our historic story line, why are housing communities still called “plantations”, the term or location that many associate with slavery?
- The hottest area of economic growth in the Lowcountry is construction. With that, we are seeing more and more migrant and immigrant workers.? Is this community comfortable with that?
- With the career opportunity growth and South Carolina ranked one of the lowest in the nation in academic standards, how we will fill those much-needed skilled roles to meet the demands of the area? This question becomes even more critical with the recent announcement of the new Google Data Center and the existence of over 250 active start-ups.
- In the latest census, Charleston County residency is 95.7% white and black.? A demographic shift will change significantly in the next 10 plus years.? How is the city going to adjust?
- We currently have a commuting traffic issue in the city metro. With Volvo, Nexton and the expansion West of Summerville, this will create a second bottleneck of traffic on 26.? How is this being addressed?
- As traffic issues continue to mount, the infrastructure changes to more modern architectural design and the fight against unfair treatment of the carriage horses mount, will the historic Southern culture of Charleston soon be gone?
- Can the Lowcountry survive with the increased pressures of new development and resident growth, while we still cannot solve the issue of flooding and poor water quality?
These are questions that have run through the minds of many and unfortunately, we seem to be allowing our local governments free reign to capitalize on changes without taking steps to solidify the future.? The future is being compromised and contrary to what government and media is saying, it I not for the better.
More tourists, more money, increased costs and more homes are not always the right direction of progress.? In addition, progress does takes time.? The rate we are progressing is not healthy.
I hope we start to organize and stand in numbers as one voice to either slow down change or prepare for the future.? If not for us, for our children.