LETTER: Change begins at home

Published 9:22 am Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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I am an older Caucasian American woman who lived in Florida until I moved away in my 20s, living ultimately in 22 places until my husband and I moved to Stanly County from the center of Charlotte 15 years ago.

Growing up in a segregated school system, my church and my family nevertheless taught me that all lives matter, that respect and love were how we were to treat each other.

I later began to realize how privileged my life really was as a Caucasian woman. I also began to realize how the ugly head of segregation and racism was showing its head all over the South.

In my 20s and 30s, as I travelled up and down the Eastern Seaboard, especially in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, I remember shuddering every time I passed by places of business flying the Confederate flag.

I was literally afraid to stop at those places for food or gas, knowing what that probably meant.

Now if I was afraid, a Caucasian woman, imagine what our African American folks must have been feeling and what they still feel. It’s no wonder we read stories of how they had a special travel book that helped them find food, gas and lodging without having to stop at those stores with those flags.

Well, friends of Stanly County, those flags are still flying here in some parts, and my heart does a little flip, still, as I drive by those houses, some near my African American friends. There is one flag flying in our neighborhood but not near us.

A new African American friend was walking home on our road to his new home (because he got a ride with someone when his car broke down) when some neighbors began questioning him about why he was there.

While there was no outright ugliness, our friend was terribly uncomfortable at the persistent questioning. I cannot blame him. Can you?

Do you think that would have happened to a Caucasian? I wonder.

I leave you with this thought, a quote by Joe Biden recently: “We’ve got to make real the promise of America, which we’ve never fully grasped, that all men and women are equal, not only at creation but throughout their lives.”

We’ve got to make the promise real here in Stanly County.

Nancy C. Bryant