I’ve been told that I am “too sensitive” and that I “take things to heart too much.” Until recently, I’ve always felt as if my sensitivity was a negative thing. After much self-reflection, I now have a great sense of gratitude for my sensitivity. I internalize the hurt of others on a daily basis, and sometimes it is debilitating. But this is my role. This is me.
Sunday, Sept. 25, I stood in a green space across from the entrance of the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, standing in solidarity with Charlotte Uprising. I held the hands of two folks I did not know, and we looked into the eyes of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers. They were dressed in riot gear. Almost directly in front of me stood two female police officers: one white and one black. Those women stood out to me. I don’t know much about energies, but I believe I felt their energy.
I must note that when I learned the history of how and why police/patrols organizations were formed, I felt numb. I do not consider myself to be anti-police. However, I refuse to pretend that police organizations in America are just. I will not paint a beautiful picture because social media has been used to idolize police who hand out ice cream and play basketball games. The disgusting truth is that police organizations are laced with folk who are bigots who crave a sense of power. Bigots who would love nothing more than to unleash their rage on the very people whom they harbor so much hate for.
The two police officers — I felt their energy. Two black men yelled at these women in a way that allowed them to know just how angry they were, and rightfully so. Suddenly, the attention was focused primarily on the black police officer. A few things that I heard: “Oh, you got dreads, you must be from the hood.” “You think if you kill someone, the police will protect your black self?” I can’t remember much that was said. I do remember the words continuing to focus on her lack of support for the black community because she made the decision to side with the opposition — in this case, the opposition being the police force. I could see the hurt in her eyes.
My gut told me to stand between the two police officers and the protesters. At that moment, I did not see two police officers. I saw two little girls who had dreams of making a difference — growing up to “protect.” My inner nurturer wanted so badly to hug the little girls who were still within those women.
I did not do what my gut was telling me to do. There are a few reasons why I did not move from my spot: I could not bring myself to interfere with someone’s freedom of speech; I was afraid of what folks might have thought about me, said to me/about me; and, worse case, what folks might have done.
Instead of standing in my truth, I stood there and I cried. It took every bit of strength that I had in me to not fall to the ground and cry. I looked one of the women in the eyes, placed my hand over my heart and tapped it two times; she nodded with acknowledgement. I know that was not enough. That is not the equivalent of looking them both in the eyes and telling them that “I am sorry that the two little girls who wanted to save they world had to grow up to become women who work for a system that is unjust.” I’ve always prided myself on standing for women, and even more so, black women. That day, I felt as if I had done neither.
This represents the love that I did not share. It represents the fear that I let win. It represents all that I am not. It may take a very long time for me to forgive myself. Standing in one’s truth has nothing to do with other people — it has all to do with fulfilling our purpose. That of which I run away from each time I don’t stand in truth.
— Nicole Townsend
Filmmaker, writer and community organizer