A Story: August 13, 2017

I grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio–a town that remains 97% white. On many Sundays (after church!), I would accompany my father and grandfather to Cleveland Browns games. Our family had season tickets for decades. In my youth, I recall sitting in traffic in downtown Cleveland and looking out the window to see a young black man walking down the street. We had the windows down and you could literally hear all these white folks from the suburbs coming in to see the Browns (like us) locking their car doors one after the other upon seeing this young black man. My grandfather observed it too. Grandpa didn’t lock our doors.

One could say it’s because he was a 6’4″ retired First Sergeant in the United States Army and Korean and Vietnam War Veteran and wasn’t afraid of anyone. True. But there’s more to it. Grandpa turned to me in the backseat and said, “Sugar, did you hear that?  All those folks locking their car doors? Imagine what it does to that poor kid’s self-esteem.” And when the light turned green and we drove past, grandpa made eye contact with that young black man and nodded. That memory will stay with me forever. Acknowledgment. Respect.

I believe that people are taught to love. And we all have the power to teach and embody love. Hoping the events in Charlottesville will sound like a clarion call that love is the answer.