James T. McLawhorn, president and CEO of the Columbia Urban League, wrote this as part of a recent guest column in The State newspaper. It is so true. The rednecks and yahoos who publicly vent their racist bile are not just embarrassing our state. They are holding us back economically. Read the whole column at www.thestate.com/editorial-columns/story/996630.html

Often people are uncomfortable or reluctant to launch into a discussion about race because of possible fallout. But whenever I speak about economic development, the issue of South Carolina’s racial climate always surfaces, because negative race relations and economic despair go hand in hand – as do positive race relations and economic vitality.

These discussions most often are below the radar. In order for this state to progress, we must move these discussions from behind the walls of our comfort zones onto public platforms and agendas.

Over the past few months, our race-relations image has been mostly negative, and this has decreased our ability to be competitive in attracting tourists, individuals, families and businesses looking to relocate or do business in South Carolina. We have become one of the most undesirable destinations for many. In many cases, we are unable to competitively recruit some of the country’s leading scholars in higher education.