This is going to sound crazy. It seems crazy writing it. Here’s the truth: Something GOOD and unexpected came from the Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021.
Actually, good THINGS came from this tragedy: one personal and the other socially MIND-BLOWING.
First the personal: the immediacy of the insurrection took my mind off of losing my brother on Christmas Eve due to COVID-19.
Grieving is an unschedulable process.
It’s no respecter of time. I couldn’t sleep at night, but wanted to sleep all day. I wasn’t hungry, but then I would binge on vegan doughnut holes. I couldn’t cry (still can’t) but yet I could scream like a crazy person over the smallest infraction.
The riot gave my grief something to focus on.
So I took to social media to help my White Allies NOT HELP me by explaining how the DC riots had nothing to do with race. #sigh
I know they meant well.
So I did a video about what I and other Black people would need from them in this moment.
To be honest, it wasn’t my best video.
I was in my feelings.
The technology kept failing.
My jokes didn’t always land and the information I had at the time was inaccurate.
That being said, I was expressing the historical wound that gets triggered with many Black People when we see the contrast in how the police are deployed when we protest compared to the protestors/rioters on January 6th.
That video has been viewed over half a million times.
There are literally THOUSANDS of comments and the majority of them are from Trump supporters calling me names, posting hate and insulting my skin, lips, nose and hair.
I have been trolled before – by a Black Man who said I loved white men – but not at this magnitude. It was painful reading the posts. They made my chest hurt and I started to feel unsafe. So I stopped reading the hate, prayed and asked my team to ban people who were being ugly.
A few days letter I check messenger and had two messages from a White Male Republican who had seen my video and wanted to have a talk. I was floored. Then I was scared. Was he setting me up to be attacked? I took Happy to daycare and prayed on it: do I read them? Do I respond?
I remembered God does not give us a spirit of fear.
So I read his messages and responded.
We got on Facetime and had one of the bravest conversations I have EVER had in my life.
His name is Joseph.
He is happily married and the father of five girls. He works in sales and protests for his girls to go back to school. Joe is easy to talk to and as strong in his convictions as I am in my mine. He’s smart, well-read, funny, and on the exact OPPOSITE side of social justice than I am.
We decided to have a DIGNIFIED conversation to model what it looks like to talk through issues instead of talking at or over each other. We laid down the ground rules and agreed to listen with the grace of God to the best of our ability.
It’s not perfect. We both fumbled. We both got passionate. We both went on tangents. And even with the messiness of our exchange, mutual respect and willingness to hear each other won out, more often than not.
Please check out the conversation and see if it can help you hear someone who simply is on the other side of ANY conversation. From social, to personal, to closing sales, being willing to listen until you get an understanding is a powerful and empowering way to build bridges – instead of burning down the house.
Let me know your thoughts. And please, be kind.
This was a God-guided conversation. Neither one of us are political pundants. We both are citizens who are deeply committed to a world that works for everyone.
I love you,