The first Friday of each month I go to church. OK, I go TO a church but for me the experience at Creative Mornings, an organization that seeks to unite creatives from around their community – and, by extension of its other chapters, around the world – is good for the soul. This morning I received a rather coincidentally timed email from the CM Mothership suggesting that global members “Write a love letter ❤”. So I did.
I was born here, at what was then Memorial Hospital (now Carolinas Medical Center). I grew up in Dilworth, a neighborhood where you’d now be hard pressed to find a home for a mere half a million but once had humble, if solidly middle-class, homes and a strong sense of community. It also had very few black residents.
Conversely, the schools I attended growing up were predominantly black: Irwin Elementary, Piedmont Open Middle and West Charlotte High School (I also briefly attended both Northwest School of the Arts and Myers Park High School). I still feel that my time at West Charlotte was one of the most positive, community-affirming experiences of my life.
I have had great opportunities here, both professionally and personally. I get to make a living doing something I truly love. I’ve started a business that I hope will one day provide opportunities to others like me to do what they love. I have been fortunate enough to travel much of the US and several parts of the world, and always look forward to coming home to you. I might have a few side pieces but you are Bae (What is Bae?). You are my city and your residents are my family. I’ve felt and still feel just as comfortable on Beatties Ford Road as Providence Road, on East Boulevard as West Boulevard.
Over the last two days I have seen you broken open. I have seen despair, pain, anger, destruction and frustration. But I have also seen hope. I see a white female mayor and a black police chief working incredibly hard to heal you and your residents. I see organizations and individuals encouraging people to come together to talk about the issues we face as a community and a nation.
But it’s not you, it’s me. I am part of the problem. Simply acknowledging my white privilege is not enough. Simply saying “Yes, there is still racism in this country!” is not enough. So I am asking you what is? How do I help? What can I do? What can we do together to make this work? We need to talk.
Image from H. Blake Edwards
*My mom says older folks might benefit from a parenthetical explanation of Bae so “I might have a few side pieces but you are Bae” in older language translates to:
“I have some other mistress but (you are) my goods, my chattels; (you are) my house, my household stuff, my field, my barn, my horse, my ox, my ass, my any thing.”
Hope that cleared things up. That Shakespeare guy always did have a way with words.