In the wake of Congressman Robert Pittenger’s insane observations yesterday about race in Charlotte, Charlotte Magazine is featuring a powerful essay this morning by a white, award winning novelist named David Joy who grew up working class in the city, but still experienced advantages time after time because of his skin color. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.
Here’s are a couple of excerpts from “My Privilege, Our Problem”:
“I grew up where Freedom Drive dumps into ‘Tank Town’ in the heart of Charlotte’s west side. White as cigarette paper, I was a minority at every school I attended, from elementary school at Tuckaseegee, where classmates sold weed; to middle school in Camp Greene at Spaugh, where I was robbed at gunpoint; to Harding University High School, where I once witnessed a rich white kid who’d been bused across the city into Westerly Hills come outside on his lunch break to find the car his parents had bought him resting on cinder-blocks, his 20-inch rims long gone and sold. I tell you all of this to say that I grew up knowing and experiencing not only a racial divide, but a line drawn by class across that city. There were the haves and the have-nots, us falling to the latter, so I always knew the criminality around me was a result of poverty not race. It came from having nothing. And still, I understood I was lucky to be born the color I was. Maybe we were all poor, but I had an advantage: a skin tone camouflaged from police profile.”
And this on the shooting earlier this week:
“What bothers me is this: Whether he was reading a book or sitting in his car with a gun, whether the officer who shot him was white or black, Keith Lamont Scott should be alive and breathing and those seven children left behind should still have their father.
My family has been in North Carolina for centuries, settled around what became the city of Charlotte since the late 1600s. In this open-carry state, an 18-year-old can purchase an assault rifle and openly carry that weapon down Tyvola Road if he wants. And so long as he doesn’t pose a threat, he is within his legal rights to do so. Read more