Editor’s Note: To Know Your Community Is To Start An Understanding With It

Charlotte is, and always has been, an extremely varied city. For as long as I’ve lived here, there has always been more going on behind the scenes of our communities, but what’s stood out to me in the time I’ve really started to cover the local music & game scenes is just how little each know about the other.

As of the census report from July 2019, we have almost 900k citizens living here, popping up from on the outside as they gather like moths to our bright lights, but then why do we still feel so small? At many events, whether at local shows thrown every night by venues like The Milestone Club off of Tuskegee Rd or Plaza-Midwood’s merry band of music houses from Snug Harbor to Skylark Social, to our local gaming groups that set up around the city to provide an outlet for both newer & older players. Yet, it can be a blue moon sometimes when we get that good crowd out to participate, and yet we somehow have hubs like “Keep Charlotte Boring” around.

For as large as Charlotte seems to be though, in talking with multiple members of our black community, the constant question came up of how to reach out, how to talk to others on both a small casual scale and into the deeper conversations where our individual realities are stripped naked in front of one another, allowing each to show those raw feelings and experiences.

Simply put, we can’t do that if we don’t try to leap into moments with one another, but unlike before, when life had kept us obsessively distracted from one another, recent ugly events have collided enough to garner the attention of a nation and allow actions that may had seemed hard before.

In the wake of COVID-19, when the world had isolated to a point no one had ever experienced before, and in the light & tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, and the many others before them, the world is reacting in a way many had wanted for decades, but couldn’t quite get to take off, be it collective protests from all walks of life or people banding together to have those long hard talks, revealing what they may had not understood before.

In Charlotte, artists like Omega Sparx and DJ Roberts, both hip-hop artists in our backyard of the Queen City, want to talk to us and share how they feel about those community divides, and recent events have shown them in Live Chats looking for those answers. Weeks earlier, two other artists Cutright and Ike Hill released an online concert where their material, often shown live in schools around the country, tackle these issues for kids of all ages.

Having those conversations gets even easier in the weekly game events that happen online exclusively. Potions & Pixel’s Michael Zytkow partners constantly with our community heads and offers those open spaces almost daily, with Yoel Kidd from Koyobi Gaming, Alonzo & Eric of SetPlay & New Challengers, and the female-led group The Athena Alliance all in the mix. Each member of our communities in the city is doing their part as leaders to communicate about themselves as well as highlight struggles in their daily lives, and it’s easier than ever to listen in.

We have a reset point on understanding, and we are further, yet closer to each other than ever before. Between now and in the post-COVID world, we can reach out, and we have the time and ability to do so. If it didn’t occur to us to talk to or interact with our neighbors before, we can start now and set a new trend that can extend well beyond the moment and into a lifetime. If anything, we desperately need to be real neighbors again and break the borders of what separates us, with a little thing called love.
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