I’m not sure you’re ready for what I’m about to post.
I am one not to be surprised by miracles. Really. I’ve seen them happen too many times to question the magic of serendipity and coincidence.
But this one? Ya’ll…come on. Are you freakin’ kidding me?
Sit down and relax and read this. For the best fun on a Sunday morning…DON’T SKIP to the end. Read it all the way through.
About two weeks ago, I told my friend Robert Jorth about an initiative I and a few friends were planning for January. Here is pretty much what I said in EXACT words:
“I think it’s time to put myself and Red Boot to the test. I’m working with a couple of other folks to guide a Red Boot Meeting where we intentionally gather together some of Charlotte’s “people”…the mayor, the Chief of police, the CEO’s and leads at some of our for-profit and non-profit communities. The one group though I don’t have direct contact with is someone like the woman I encountered at the protest the other night…I want someone who represents the angriest of our black youth. Those folks need to be a part of this conversation, for sure.”
Now…if you aren’t a regular follower here, let me remind you. On September 21st, Keith Scott was shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer. What ensued was what we, as a culture, have grown to see in other cities affected by large pockets of people, not being heard, seen or loved. (My take of course. I love people.) There were protests for several days in my beloved city of Charlotte. Hundreds came out.
I reached out to Toussaint Romain and asked if I could join him at the protests. I was scared to go. He said Yes.
I wrote about that experience later that night.
Here’s a link to the whole piece, (https://mollybarker.com/2016/09/23/charlotte-protests-thursday-night/).
But as you recall, there was one woman, in particular who touched me deeply. This is what I wrote about her.
“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.”
Yesterday, The Red Boot Coalition was holding our tenth Red Boot Guide training. Thanks to Ann Davant Crehore, Makeda T. Pennycooke, Julia Dorn, we were ready to go. Nametags in place, pens, training manuals, we were good to go.
I arrived and was working my way toward the coffee, when I first saw the shirt…the black shirt with the African-nation flag on it.
I stood still for a moment.
And then she turned around. Those eyes. Those eyes, a beautiful shade of sun.
I felt my legs buckle and the breath fall from my lips.
It was her. The woman filled with rage, who only weeks earlier had yelled so hard and so passionately that her voice had been stripped. She was working at the venue for our training.
“It’s you,” I said.
We looked at one another.
“Do you remember me?” I asked. “Do you remember me? You told me not to raise my children to be racists.”
Her face…the seeing…the recognition.
“Yes,” her face again that beautiful shade of rage. A moment only and then she spoke with strength and courage.
“We can’t stop now. The protests are over, but the problem hasn’t gone away.”
I think I said something about how we get so distracted by the news of the day…that the important things…like this…get pushed to the side.
“I’d like to take you to lunch or dinner sometime. I think it might be good if you and I got to know each other. Really know each other.”
“That would be good,” she said.
She gave me her contact information. I’ve already texted her and am quite sure there will be a reunion…this time where I can truly listen and she can honestly share.
Moments later…as I was preparing my opening remarks for the training, Sarah Board Plott, a Red Boot Guide, whispered in my ear. She wants to know more about Red Boot. She wants to maybe come to a Red Boot Guide Training.”
My friends…there is hope…there is love…and yes there are miracles.