Democrats may have to address the issues of inequality and justice
Those stately homes sit on the mostly white side of town. In the city's poor black neighborhoods, the odd laundromat and ramshackle corner grocery are spread amid broken-down cars and beat-up furniture left stranded on the buckled sidewalks. A decrepit mobile home park and some clapboard homes — windows gone, porches collapsed, boards missing — seem scarcely fit for human habitation.
Those disparities could force an uncomfortable conversation. The issues likely to come up in tonight's Democratic presidential debate are familiar ones — the war in Iraq, healthcare, the economy, education. The big difference in South Carolina is race, which overlays just about every policy discussion in the state, as it has since Emancipation and reconstruction.
"Here you have to face issues that candidates shy away from elsewhere," said state Rep. Bakari T. Sellers, who went to school in Orangeburg and now represents the district next door. "Issues of justice and inequality. Issues of race."
I'm looking forward to this debate. I want the candidates to acknowledge some awful truths and put forth substantive proposals on how to deal with the problems that have been caused by government policies born of racism. I know that's a lofty order, and I'll probably be disappointed, but that's what I want.
"When you look at the candidates up on the stage, the whole world will think how far we've come," said Bakari Sellers, who has driven past All Star bowling alley countless times yet never set foot inside. "But if you look just below the surface here in South Carolina, where you have the Confederate flag still flying, where you have such widespread inequality, you see how far we still have to go."
It'll be interesting to see how far the candidates are willing to go.
make it plain