A Los Angeles man has written a viral Facebook post in which he explains why he has never taken a walk alone in his own neighborhood.
Author and keynote speaker Shola Richards, 45, admitted that he is ‘scared to death’ to walk alone in his neighborhood without his dog and his daughters, Kaya, 11, and Nia, 8, walking along side him.
Because while he is viewed as a doting father and pet owner when his girls and his pup are beside him, he said, when he is alone, all some white people see are a tall, athletic black man seemingly ‘walking around in a place where he doesn’t belong.’
Reality: Shola Richards, 45, admitted that he is ‘scared to death’ to walk alone in his neighborhood without his dog and his daughters, Kaya, 11, and Nia, 8, walking along side him
Perspective: He said he is seen as a father and pet owner with his daughters and dog, but alone, some people see an athletic black man ‘walking around in a place … he doesn’t belong’
‘Twice a day, I walk my dog Ace around my neighborhood with one, or both, of my girls,’ he began his post. ‘I know that doesn’t seem noteworthy, but here’s something that I must admit:
‘I 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),’ he admitted.
He noted that while some people might find this ‘melodramatic’ or accuse him of ‘playing the race card,’ this is his reality.
‘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,’ he explained.
‘But without them by my side, almost instantly, I morph into a threat in the eyes of some white folks.
‘Instead of being a loving dad to two little girls, unfortunately, 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 (even though, I’m still the same guy who just wants to take a walk through his neighborhood).’
Truth: He noted that while some people might find this ‘melodramatic’ or accuse him of ‘playing the race card,’ this is his reality
Scary: He said it’s both ‘exhausting and depressing’ to feel like he can’t walk around alone outside because he is afraid he might be targeted
He said it’s both ‘exhausting and depressing’ to feel like he can’t walk around alone outside because he is afraid he might be targeted.
What’s more, he said, he is troubled that so many people ‘actually believe that racism isn’t a thing’ and that ‘White Privilege is a made-up fantasy to be politically-correct’ — despite the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the like.
To that end, he shared some ‘common sense points.’
First, he wrote: ‘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, killed) for simply bird watching then know that is a privilege that many black/brown people (myself included) don’t currently enjoy.’
Seconded, he said, ‘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.’
Third, he added, racism is real — and no one should delude themselves into thinking it’s ‘limited to the fringes of the hardcore MAGA crowd,’ since Amy Cooper — the New Yorker who lied to cops and said that Christian Cooper was threatening her life in Central Park — proved that racism ‘is just as prevalent in liberal America as it is anywhere else.’
Spreading: He went viral for the post, which also discusses white privilege, racism, and Black Lives Matter
‘While racism is real, reverse-racism is not,’ he went on. ‘Please don’t use that term, ever.’
For racism to get better, he said, ‘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,’ he wrote. ‘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.’
Finally, he said that he didn’t know what to tell white people who are still staying silent on this.
‘If these atrocities won’t get you to speak up, then honestly, what will?’ he asked. ‘Also, it’s worth asking, why be my friend? 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 in the first place.
‘As for me, I’ll continue to walk these streets holding my 8-year-old daughter’s hand, in hopes that she’ll continue to keep her daddy safe from harm. I know that sounds backward, but that’s the world that we’re living in these days.’
Shola’s post, which he shared on May 28, has very quickly gone viral, earning 462,000 likes and 568,000 shares on Facebook.
He wrote: For racism to get better, he said, ‘white allies are absolutely critical’
‘I wrote this post out of complete exasperation,’ he told Today. ‘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.
‘As a parent, it breaks my heart that the true experience of racism is not something that I can protect them from, or prepare them for,’ he added.
‘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.’
He has been bolstered by the response to his post, which has been flooded with supportive messages.
‘I am deeply touched by all of your kind words, and also, for your willingness to step up as allies,’ he added in an edit. ‘The comments on this post have only strengthened my faith in humanity, and for that, I am very grateful. We have a lot of work to do, and I’m ready to stand at your side to do it.’