I have spent the last 3 hours in uptown Charlotte at the protests with my friend Toussaint Romain.
I marched with black and white and brown Charlotteans and I cried when I saw the cops…oh how I yearn for their safety too…I even hugged a few.
The National Guard is everywhere. I asked a young female National Guard officer if she ever got afraid…she was smaller than me and she said, “I’ve been well trained. So no. I am not afraid.”
I sit now in my car in a parking lot a block away and yearn for her courage. The helicopters are overhead. There is an eery anticipation of something. I understand for a fleeting moment what it must feel like to be afraid because I am different…because I do not know this world.
The night is not over. Not at all.
But my fear and the fact that I am on a 7 30 flight tomorrow got the best of me. It was probably more the fear though if I’m really honest.
Toussaint challenged me to examine that fear. To seek its source.
And so let me tell you…tell you how scared I was to go. Scared based on what I’ve seen in our media. Scared that maybe I would die.
I’m embarrassed to tell you that somehow it became about me…this selfish fear of mine and then I remember my friend Toussaint who stood courageously last night between the police and the protestors…keeping the peace.
But there was one conversation in particular. A young, beautiful black woman, six feet tall. I had noticed her earlier.
She was filled with rage. Her voice was hoarse from all the yelling. Her vocal cords, stripped of their power. She wore a handkerchief over most of her face. She was tall. Her eyes a beautiful shade of sun. She wore camo pants and a black shirt with an African nation flag on it.
We made eye contact.
“I want to ask you a question.”
“Go ahead,” she said.
“What can I do to help. What can I do?”
“Raise your children to not be racists. You are white. You have all the power. Teach them to not be racist.”
I am back in the comfort of my car…and wonder as I write…if she remembers me and how long we looked at one another.