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Highway 70 goes right through Raleigh. The city is boarded up. We are at a tipping point, and it’s time for us to SHOW UP. It’s time for white people to show up in this conversation. Many of us have thought ourselves not to be racist, and that makes sense. However we have benefitted from a system skewed in our favor our whole lives. I’m trying to figure out what it means to be anti-racist. My friend Joanna Pinneo wrote this, and it resonates deeply for me, so it bears repeating:⁠

“Change has to come. Do not let the forces of evil win. Do not allow hatred to be sown even more. Vote, change the leadership. Not lip service. We need real systematic change. Deep change. Deep awakening. We are responsible. There are consequences – look what our broken system has wrought. We have to vote and work hard for peace and justice. What can each of us do? I am asking myself this question.”⁠

I am too.⁠

So I spoke with some barbers in Raliegh, and here is what they said:

“Being a black man, I definitely understand the frustration. Young black people feel like their hands are tied. They have no other way to vent. We are not being listened to. We’re being killed, gunned down, killed in other ways in the streets, very senselessly. It’s just desperation… It’s just desperation. I think people are just acting out of desperation. I understand it. ⁠

“We just opened one week ago last Friday, and now we have to replace the windows. Been out of work for about three months, and now we have to replace the windows. I don’t think we have any coverage for the windows. But that’s the way the ball bounced for us this time.”⁠

Charles Jefferson, long time employee (27 years) at Nicholson’s Barbershop, 106 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh NC⁠.

“People work hard for their business.  Stuff like this come round, and happens like this.  Most of these businesses just got back to work last week, and now they’re shutting down.  Why do people want to destroy other people’s stuff.  They work hard for their business.  It’s a shame for it to happen like that.  It is what it is, but a lot of us now, we won’t be able to open back up because of this.  Only thing I can do is pray for that man upstairs to make sure he’ll make it better after a while.  That’s all I can say.  HOld on then.  Put your prayers in him.”

Joe Martin, Blalock Barbershop

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