Stories from Charlottesville

 

Meet Gerald. He comes from Philly. He's made Charlottesville his home. He moved there in 2000. He says he's got credentials (not sure what kind of work) but he doesn't make the money he knows he can there. Problem is, he only makes enough to get by and not enough to uproot himself again and move back to his hometown. He and his friend Anthony (not pictured) shared their thoughts about what's happening in their town. They explained that for such a long time, white people have been dominating government positions and positions of power. But recently a Black man has risen rank and is now the vice mayor. They say he's been pushing an agenda that challenges the established power structure and old ideas. As a result, the dust has been kicked up and some feathers have been ruffled. #charlottesville #virginia #black

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This is Julia, the waitress at The Nook Restaurant. She was born and raised in Charlottesville. During our conversation, she starts to become visibly emotional about the state of affairs in her little town. She speaks about how the current vice mayor is pushing a message of diversity is strength. She says that while there's always been an accepted tension between groups in this town, it was when white supremacists made their presence known that pushed many white residents over the edge to commit to speaking their separatist, racist messages. She says Charlottesville was like any other place in the country, dealing with racial tension before this moment. Although she isn't a Trump supporter, she expected him to be presidential and handle this situation like a leader. She says she's disappointed with his approach. #charlottesville

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Meet the boys club. I wanted to talk to some white folk about the happenings in Charlottesville. For some, these nice old men look totally approachable, like somebody's granddaddy. Not mine tho! Lol My cousin and I pass by the group. She makes eye contact with one of 'em. She thinks he acknowledges her with a 'trying to hide it from my buddies' half-eye wink. I don't know this until I say to her, "I think I want to interview them." She says something along the lines of, "Well, you can try. I don't think they want us here." We get into a huddle and I begin to overthink an approach strategy. Then I decide to talk to people around them. I meet this couple, two white women, newly weds. The woman who has lived in the area for a while says the issues that have made Charlottesville famous have been bubbling beneath the surface for a long time. She mentions the statue, saying it had been a topic being addressed by the town for some time now. She mentions the deep pocketed white folks and the white people in power, saying this is why white supremacists chose Charlottesville. Now, as a white person, a person of privilege, she's not sure what to do. She's doesn't feel like she has the solution. She visibly grows emotional. I want to tell her it was her whiteness that empowers her to do something because racism is actually a white issue. But I won't. After my chat with the couple, cousin and I sit down at that empty table left of the club. We talk about possible strategies to break the invisible wall between them and us. Every time I look over to make eye contact or to smile, eyes veer away. Then my body has a coughing fit (lol) as if on cue. I say I need some water to my cousin. Then I look at the boys club and manage to yell out, "Is there a waiter out here?" I wait for a response from the boys club. It's a pregnant pause like in the story books. For a second I think one of 'em is turning around to reply. Then this random white man way on the other corner of the sitting area yells back, "No, ya gotta go in." I say thanks and he says, "Yeah, no problem." We got up and left. No boys club interview.

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