Does white privilege exist? Find out Tuesday at Rock Hill forum featuring black activists, state lawmaker, others

Brad Rawlinson of the Concerned Black Men of Rock Hill
Brad Rawlinson of the Concerned Black Men of Rock Hill tkimball@heraldonline.com

As the Carolinas grapple with police shootings, perceived racial injustice and how police deal with blacks and other people of color, a Rock Hill civil rights group of black men pushing police for reform will hold a forum Tuesday called “Does White Privilege Exist?”

Among the panelists will be S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, a conservative who at the same time was one of South Carolina’s leading proponents to take down the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in 2015.

Norman, a real estate developer and builder, said he is happy to be part of any discussion that helps unite the community – even if all people don’t agree with him.

“I am not sure that everyone will like what I will have to say, but I never duck anything,” Norman said.

Norman faced considerable political heat in 2015 when he vocally sided with Gov. Nikki Haley to take down the Confederate flag in a move later joined by most legislators – but not all.

Brad Rawlinson, leader of the newly formed Concerned Black Men of Rock Hill that has publicly challenged the police department to create a more transparent relationship with blacks, will be part of the panel and lead the discussion. The forum comes just days after a police shooting in Charlotte sparked protests that turned into riots and attacks on officers.

Rawlinson and the group marched on the Rock Hill Police Department over the summer, demanding accountability. Group leaders have said repeatedly they are not anti-police and are seeking solutions to benefit all people.

The idea for Tuesday’s forum is for several viewpoints to be heard in a discussion that is not confrontational but educational, Rawlinson said.

Rawlinson said other members of the panel will be: Chip Sawicki, former chief financial officer of the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars; Jennifer Pollino, an executive coach and former Goodrich executive; Jonathan Montgomery, a businessman; and Makeda Baker, a radio host from Chester.

The forum is free and open to the public and runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at 147 Oakland Avenue, Rock Hill. The forum is the second hosted by the Concerned Black Men of Rock Hill.