OPINION: I’ll never get it

OPINION: I’ll never get it

I sat on the couch at my home in Charlotte — somewhere between shock and awe — pondering.

Silent Sam, the confederate monument on the northernmost grounds, facing metaphorical Union troops, of my alma mater had been toppled. Student-protestors rejoiced. I had seen such excitement in Chapel Hill before, but mainly after big wins by a basketball team that rather plays on the southernmost region of campus. 

I don’t get it. I never will. 

Simply put, I’m a white guy who grew up in Pinehurst, North Carolina — a town made up of nearly 97 percent white individuals and less than 1 percent black individuals. Now, I work for and worship within a Christian denomination made up of 90 percent white individuals. 

Don’t you see? I don’t get it. I never will. 

Sure, I can read what Carrboro namesake Julian Carr said at the statue’s dedication speech in 1913 — “The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South.”

Those words, not even the worst of his speech, however, will never affect me to the extent they do to people of color. 

I just don’t get it. I never will.  

But, I can listen. I can try to understand. I can open my heart. I can attempt to make sense of the raw emotions in those pictures and videos. I can read the tweets of Black classmates who graduated with me in May. 

I might only turn to empathy — to feel the pain of others, knowing I’ll never understand what it feels like to be consistently and continually ignored by my university’s administration.

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I must realize this issue reaches further than a statue, to topics such as police brutality, national anthem protests and the rights of NCAA athletes. I’ll do my best — I’ll empathize, I’ll speak out, I’ll amplify others.

But, I won’t truly get it. I never will.  

Cover photo by Bryce Lapping | Protestors rally at Silent Sam in August 2017

 Photo by Sam Doughton

Photo by Sam Doughton