So listen. Don’t go away. I am for you and me. I am for us. 

And because you know me…you know that my heart is open and so too is my mind. 

So listen up. When I share things…things that make you uncomfortable…please stay with me. I’ve learned that discomfort is where growth starts…where change begins. 

I live in Charlotte and last night I went uptown and listened.

To the beautiful young man (boy really…he was probably 17). His face covered by a handkerchief in case there was tear gas…

Who when asked, “Do you feel there is hope?”…his desperate sigh and mournful response. “No. No I don’t. There is no hope left.”

To the young female carrying a big pink sign that said “Love all”. She was quick to hug the police officers and national guard soldiers. She hugged me too. 

“Share the love,” she cried. “Unity for all.”

To the elders and pastors…standing strong in their crisp dark suits, quoting Martin Luther King and speaking their angry truth with passion and compassion, their hearts abounding with big, big Love. 

I am learning and seeing and understanding now…that there is as much variation about what folks think has to happen to bring about the change needed…among my black friends as there are my white friends…so I encourage you…on behalf of the beautiful boy who felt no hope…or the young girl shouting “Love All” to realize this with me…to stop using the words “they” or “them” or “the black community” when referencing all black protesters/black people. 

I will do the same and I beg you to call ME out like my good friend Trent Merchant did this morning. 

Start there. Begin easy.

This is big stuff. People are dying. 

I also recognize that I have much to learn. It can be scary having these conversations and trying to understand all the complexities of what’s happening in Charlotte. 

And so I offer myself to you. I’m happy to sit down with anyone who wants to just talk about this stuff. I have many black friends who are happy to sit down too. Just one on one if you want. 

Coffee is a good place to start.  

There really is nothing to fear when these questions are asked with curiosity and a desire for understanding.

So stay with me. I am your friend and worry sometimes you will leave me.