The Violence in Charlotte, Horrible but Necessary

Writing this was a horrible, horrible mistake and I regret it already. But here goes.

Let me start out by saying that I am sickened by the violence that I have seen in what I consider my home area. My family has lived in North Carolina, and 20 minutes outside of Charlotte for the past five years. I have driven into downtown Charlotte many times. I-85 is my highway and I love that stretch of road — even if the construction and traffic makes you want to kill yourself some days.

My mom almost accidentally drove right into the middle of those riots the day they started, but her event got postponed and then she saw the news and decided not to go.

And so, I can say that I feel horrible for Charlotte. I wish that violence had not been enacted on its streets, that its stores had not been looted, and that people would not have been hurt.

However, I can say with much more certainty, that I feel horrible for the black community in Charlotte. At the beginning of the school year, coming back to college, I listened to my friend who had worked in the poor, black community in Charlotte, I listened as they told me stories that made me tear up. Those stories about poor black kids who did not know that they should go to the bathroom when they needed to go pee, because their parents hadn’t been around to teach them. I heard stories about kids who ate a whole stick of butter because they did not know that it was supposed to go on bread and they were hungry for food.

Charlotte has been lauded around the nation as a growing symbol of prosperity and wealth. One of the symbols of the American dream, Charlotte is an incredibly fast growing city that is becoming more and more wealthy. But this growth does not extend to the poor black areas in Charlotte. Rather it shows itself in the burgeoning suburbs filled with rich or middle class white families.

I can only imagine how it must feel for those black families. How would I react if I saw people all around me getting richer and more prosperous, while I was stuck in a poor place with terrible schools and gaping holes where my leaders should be?

I still haven’t really talked about why I see the violence as necessary.

In order for you to understand, you have to know a bit about my summer. This summer saw a wave of protests and unrest sweep the nation as there were several high profile police killings. The two most notable of which were the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. At the time, I was interning for US Senator Thom Tillis (and for clarification, none of the statements I make here or in the future or past should reflect on him). At the office, there were a couple interns, one of which was black. The day after these incidents blew up nationally, I wondered why I hadn’t heard about protests in Charlotte. In fact, I would not have known that there were protests in Charlotte if I had not heard from the intern that she had gone and participated in them.

These non-violent protests in Charlotte received little attention from news outlets. But more importantly, many of the people that I know, who live and work in and around Charlotte kept their mouths shut and said nothing on social media or any other platform. The peaceful nature of those protests and their lack of disruptive activity allowed the white community in Charlotte to be apathetic about the discrimination that black people in Charlotte and all over America have to deal with.

This recent violence is beneficial to the Charlotte community because people cannot sit around and ignore what is going on anymore. You have to take a side and reveal what kind of person you are. There is no more room for apathetic attitudes.

Violence is destructive and should be abhorred. I hate the fact that what happened in Charlotte happened. However, I cannot ignore the fact that on my social media, and in my real life interactions, I see so many more people that I know becoming active in this fight. I see people talking about what happened. I see people talking about the need to fix it.

I also see people who are revealing themselves, finally, as the kind of people that keep these subtle racist attitudes alive in our culture.

At some level at least, the violence has woken Charlotte up. Now that everyone acknowledges there is a problem, it can start to be fixed.

It just sucks that it took violence to wake everyone up.