What It Means To Be A Charlottean
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Politics and Activism

What It Means To Be A Charlottean

Learning how to cope with the hatred and violence in my city

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What It Means To Be A Charlottean
The Millennium Report

One of the first questions I was always asked by new people at college was, "Where are you from?" This should have been a simple question, but I was consistently conflicted as to how I should answer. Should I have said Charlottesville, Virginia, where my family now lives, or Charlotte, where I lived for 14 years? Most of the time I would say the former, but explain that I lived in Charlotte for most of my life. Now, however, my allegiance has switched from Charlottesville to Charlotte.

I'm from Charlotte. Now, more than ever, I need to call Charlotte my home, to show that I am personally affected by this tragedy. It's because of the riots, the protests, the confusion, the contradiction, not in spite of it, that I need to be strong for my city, and show I am there to help. I have friends who live ten minutes from the nucleus of this madness. My uncle can't go to work today because he works downtown, and I think of my little cousins who must be so confused about everything, if they've even been told.

I am from Charlotte, and I used to think I knew this city. I've taken field trips to uptown, which is currently treated as a war-zone. This city was my utopia, my hero, my everything, because it was my childhood. And now it's under attack, so to a certain extent, I feel broken, too. That being said, I know that I don't have it nearly as bad as my friends that are black, and all people whose pigment isn't as fair as mine.

I am from Charlotte, and I am ashamed of my skin tone. When I was younger and in Charlotte schools, it never bothered me. I hung out with black children, and there was no difference between us. We gossiped, we galavanted around the playgrounds, we learned. Now I know that there is a divide, a rift that seems impenetrable. Is this the way the world should be, should we judge and hate each other due to a difference in pigment? No, but that's how the world, my city is. It's not my body that's in danger, not my body that will be slurred because of its color, not in the same regard their's will be.

I am from Charlotte, and can't return to a state of normality. I can't put these riots out of my mind. I can't go to class and focus, because I know that the issue of race is bigger now than it ever has been in my city. Tensions have peaked, and my emotions are high-strung. Nothing is the same now, though I know that in a week, in a month, however long it takes, my city will heal, and so will my mental state. I am white, and can afford to do so. Those who are black, those who are mixed, they can't escape. They can't ignore what has become such a negative, dangerous aspect of their life.

I'm from Charlotte, and I can't understand others from the Queen City. I don't understand how people can generalize, lump a whole culture together in one stereotype. I can't wrap my mind around the disgusting nature of my fellow humans. How, how can you be so evil, so cruel, so unaware?

I'm from Charlotte, and I don't understand those noble souls that are peaceful, I don't understand the protester's determination. They have been downtrodden, they have been abused, and yet they stand strong, and refuse to give into those who hate them, spit on them, incite them with violence. I don't comprehend their spirit, though I hold them to the highest respect.

I'm from Charlotte, and I cry for my city. I cry for those that suffer in a place I once idolized. My eyes brim when I think of the pain Charlotte's citizens are forced to endure this very moment. But perhaps most importantly, I am distressed over my own role in this act, and how I have failed to help my city.

I am from Charlotte, and I don't know how to help. Crying will do no good, fix no evil. But what else is there? I will help my classmates who are suffering, if they so want it. But do they want to be comforted by someone who, even without her knowing or intending to, has perpetuated stereotypes? Latent racism is inherent in almost all of us, regardless of our desires or feelings. All I can do is extend a hand, cry and mourn with others as we witness the destruction and inequality. I have no power, except for my words. I can sit here and type my feelings, knowing that most people won't read them. But they are all I have, and I cling to them. They are my security blanket, my one gift to offer to those who still suffer.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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