Shola Richards is a father. He has two daughters and a dog named Ace. And as he revealed on Facebook, he walks Ace around their neighborhood twice a day.
However, he’s been holding on to a secret that he no longer feel the need to keep inside anymore. The secret is that he “would be scared to death to take these walks without my girls and my dog. In fact, in the four years living in my house, I have never taken a walk around my neighborhood alone, and probably never will.”
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Richards admitted that he knows some people who will read his post will think he’s being “melodramatic.” And some may even think that he’s just “playing the race card,” even though he has no idea what that means.
“But this is my reality,” Richards writes.
“When I’m walking down the street holding my young daughter’s hand and walking my sweet fluffy dog, I’m just a loving dad and pet owner taking a break from the joylessness of crisis homeschooling. But without them by my side, almost instantly, I morph into a threat in the eyes of some white folks.”
Richards continues, saying that when he’s alone, people don’t see him as a “loving dad of two little girls.” No, sadly, “all that some people can see is a 6’2” athletically-built black man in a cloth mask, who is walking around in a place where he doesn’t belong.” The dad admitted that it is “equal parts exhausting and depressing to feel like I can’t walk around outside alone, for fear of being targeted.”
“If you’re surprised by this, don’t be.”
Richards then addressed the people who don’t believe racism is a thing and who think white privilege is just some “made-up fantasy to be politically correct. “Yes, even despite George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (and countless other examples before them, and many to come afterward), some people still don’t seem to get it.”
That’s when Richards began to explain what white privilege is:
- 1. “Having white privilege doesn’t mean that your life isn’t difficult, it simply means that your skin color isn’t one of the things contributing to your life difficulties. Case in point, if it never crossed your mind that you could have the cops called on you (or worse, possibly killed) for simply bird watching then know that is a privilege that many black/brown people (myself included) don’t currently enjoy.”
- 2. “Responding to ‘Black Lives Matter’ by saying ‘All Lives Matter’ is insensitive, tone-deaf, and dumb. All lives can’t matter until black lives matter.”
- 3. “Racism is very real, and please don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s limited to the fringes of the hardcore MAGA crowd. As Amy Cooper proved, it’s just as prevalent in liberal America as it is anywhere else.” For those unfamiliar with Amy Cooper, you can watch the video below.
- 4. “While racism is real, reverse-racism is not. Please don’t use that term, ever.”
- 5. “In order for racism to get better, white allies are absolutely critical. If you’re white and you’ve read this far, hopefully, you care enough to be one of those allies. Please continue to speak up (despite some of your friends and family rolling their eyes at you), because your voices matter to PoC now more than ever. Special shoutouts to many of my friends for doing it so well.”
- 6. “And if you’re white, and you’re still choosing to stay silent about this, then I honestly don’t know what to say. If these atrocities won’t get you to speak up, then honestly, what will? Also, it’s worth asking, why would you choose to follow me? If you aren’t willing to take a stand against actions that could get me hurt or killed, it’s hard to believe that you ever cared about me (or my mission to create a kinder world) in the first place.”
As Richards concluded, he will still be enjoying his walks with his dog while holding the hand of his 8-year-old daughter in the neighborhood where he belongs “in hopes that she’ll continue to keep her daddy safe from harm. I know that sounds backward,” the dad of two wrote, “but that’s the world that we’re living in these days. #BlackLivesMatter.”
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The photo and Richards’ words have been shared over 40,000 times. And many of his followers understanding where he is coming from. “This is so real,” one commenter wrote. “My husband told me yesterday, “”m gonna go for a walk around the block’ and my first thought was, take one of the kids with you. For this same reason, with the kids, he is seen as a loving dad, without them he is seen as a threat. It’s just not fair.” And even more people thanked him for his honesty.
He later told Today that speaking up was something he needed to do for himself.
“The recent news stories of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and George Floyd broke me, emotionally. As a black man, hearing about these stories over and over again, it felt like ‘death by a thousand paper cuts.’ It honestly felt soul-destroying. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was losing significant weight. Many of my very well-meaning white friends were unable to understand the depths of my grief, so I wanted to put my own experiences in writing in hopes that it could be useful to them, and cathartic for me.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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