Can North Miami mend its racial divide?

caines | 5/16/2013, 5:30 a.m.

By the time this editorial is read, we should know the name of the next mayor for the City of North Miami unless no one garners 50 percent of the vote and a runoff is required. But things will be far from resolved in this fast-growing Miami-Dade city where tensions have been brewing for close to 20 years between its two largest ethnic groups: Haitians and whites. Outgoing Mayor Andre Pierre has said that [North Miami is] way overdue for a serious conversation about race but that requires compromise. But resolving the decades-long racial feud that has ebbed and flowed in North Miami could be tantamount to a mission impossible. In the waning days of the recent election, there were slogans that included: lets take back our City; and lets clean up City Hall. Such statements might cause one to ask: who is taking back the city from whom and was City Council candidate Joseph Haber being comical, employing irony or just keeping it real when he passed out bars of city soap to voters. The impasse between Blacks although the more accurate description would clearly be Haitians and whites in North Miami, can be seen in the way officials and residents talk with, or in some cases talk at, one another. In some instances, so called innocent statements have become like daggers. Take for example a recent mayoral forum where candidate Kevin Burns included an analogy about Haitians and drinking that infuriated the audience. And the tension is not just between the two races that make up the majority of North Miami residents. No, its more than just a fight between the East and the West. Even Haitian candidates in this election have squared off against one another and in very public venues. We would like to believe that once the Board of Elections certifies the results, that we could anticipate seeing more civil, mature action with leadership that transcends race. We would like to believe that it doesnt matter who wins as mayor. But the track record in North Miamis political arena suggests otherwise. Still, were going to cross our fingers and be hopeful.