Tolerance in Durham

One notable aspect of the Daily Beast MLK feature naming Durham the country’s most tolerant city is the photo they chose to use for the illustration.
That’s Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis. How the civil rights organizer and the former KKK leader developed “An Unlikely Friendship” is an interesting story that helps illustrate the transition of race relations in Durham in the 1970s and 80s. Local filmmaker Diane Bloom captured it in a documentary a few years back.
The sad coda to the story is in this piece for the Indy by Mosi Secret.
Here’s Ann about that time talking to NPR.

I’m glad that Durham was named a place of tolerance, but as I’ve said many times the top ten (or 20 or 50) list is one my least favorite forms of cheap journalism. It’s made even worse because people paid to be boosters of the top places fuss over them way too much.
Here’s the criteria the Daily Beast used:

To find out, we first limited the cities under consideration to those with a population greater than 250,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. From there, we considered three major categories:

- The number of reported hate crimes per 100,000 residents in 2010, according to the FBI, (weighted 25 percent).

- State-wide statistics on the scope of anti-discrimination laws, attitudes regarding same-sex marriage, according to projections by Columbia University professors, and religious tolerance, based on a Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life survey (weighted 25 percent).

- And the diversity of the urban population in terms of race, according to the Census; the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households, based on research by Gary J. Gates of the Williams Institute at UCLA; and religion, according to the most recent statistics on adherents from the Association of Religion Data Archives (weighted 50 percent).

That’s a start, but it hardly captures the full reality. Is Durham a tolerant city in terms of how health care is distributed, percent of children in poverty or supporting ailing, elderly civil rights heroes?

And there’s a glaring omission in the data. The description of each city doesn’t break out Hispanic populations, something that would have been interesting and informative in Durham’s case since the city is fairly evenly divided between black, white and brown.

Nice to be at the top of a list, but let’s be real about it.