Charlotte, You Can Do Better

I wrote a thing on FB about a city I’ve come to grudgingly consider part of my life, and about the recent violence there.

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I’m having trouble figuring out what to say about the murder in Charlotte right now, and honestly, I’m a little scared of posting this, but I think it needs to be said.

Having lived in Charlotte for years, and having put down some pretty deep roots, this hits home. It hits harder because my mom and I have both been volunteers for the CMPD (primarily in Animal Control) for a long time.

But…I’m not surprised. Angry, heartbroken, exhausted, yes. But not surprised.

Charlotte is a city with serious growing pains. It wants to be modern. It’s a banking center, with all the wealth associated with that, and all the upheaval. The city is gentrifying fast, and the fault lines are easy to see.

It’s a city with a huge LGBTQ population that still has regular city council meetings to try and strip basic protections from that LGBTQ community. Passionate Charlotteans show up to speak in favor of the protections, but a young trans girl is aggressively harassed in the lobby.

It’s a city with a hugely mixed population, and a vicious undercurrent of racism toward African-Americans and Mexicans. Just this week, friends of mine were posting a story about a popular new club in the area that was openly denying entry to non-whites. Spending time with a black male friend of mine in public drew looks, and left me wondering when someone would be stupid. A gay black friend of mine was jumped a few years ago by white bros out on a bender. There have been other fatal shootings, and violence on a regular basis.

Charlotte is a city that wants to be better, to grow and take its place with the big kids, but it has an identity crisis. It is an old southern city with an increasingly diverse population, but an undeniable racism, and it isn’t the Southerners who are most actively perpetrating that racism, but the new conservatives moving in who think it is a city of ‘wholesome family values’ where gay people and colored people aren’t allowed to share the wealth, while the good ol’ Southern boys stand up to City Council and march in protests. It has a thriving culture, but it tears down the things that make it unique to put up more condos, and worships the white frat-boy lifestyle. It has a mayor and police chief who have done a great amount of work, but who clearly have so very far to go.

And maybe it’s just the city that can make a difference here. It *is* small. It *is* hungry. It is full of good people who are getting pretty pissed off about the things that are happening.

Charlotte, you want to grow, to be big and powerful and to have a voice on the country’s stage? Here you go. Be one of the cities that stands up and says “No. Not here. Black lives do matter here, and we are going to protect Black lives as rigorously and honestly as any other life because we are better than our past.”

You can do it. I have faith in you.

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