It has taken me these three weeks to process what happened that night. I have put off writing about it until I had some perspective. I was wrapping up a mid-week evening of driving and headed back to my perch at the north end of Washington Park. If you would have asked me 30 years ago where I’d like to live, in my semi-retired life, I very likely would have said on Wash Park, in Denver. That wish seemed like a dream that was pretty far from reality, but by good fortune, hard work, luck and fortuitous timing I am able to do just that. The experience I shared with Bradon that night puts my life in perspective. 
There is no easy way to write about race and white male privilege. Anything I say comes from my own experience. After a ride with a young man like Bradon, I have realized more than ever, that only by virtue of fate was I given a giant head start at life. Some of this is confessional and a bit clumsy, but I need to tell this story, so here it is.
I pulled up in front of a West Wash Park bungalow. I was not expecting a tall, young, black man to get in the back seat of my car (this is the confessional part). We began about a 20 minute ride towards NE Denver. The conversation began and soon I found out that he was working part time in broadcast media. He told me he would love to stay in Denver if he could get full time work. He had done an internship here right after college and loved it. I asked, “Do you work behind or in front of the camera?” He gave me an answer that I was not expecting. “I usually work behind the camera unless they need a tall, young, black guy.” It was quiet for a minute or so, and then I asked a really blunt question. “Could you and I talk about race?” Without hesitation he answered, “Sure”. He told me that he grew up in a smaller town in Alabama. The first time he knew something was different was when, as a young boy, he kept seeing the people from animal control dumping animals in his neighborhood. “The cats were starving and they would come up to your widows and beg for food. More than once we had a rabid dog let loose” he shared. He went on to say “I realized that everyone who lived around me was black and that those poor animals and I had something in common.” “What was that”? I asked. “We were not white.”
The conversation went back and forth and then he told me a more recent story. “My mom is a paralegal at the court house where the incident in ‘Mississippi Burning’ took place. I was going to see her at lunch and I had on a coat and tie. I was standing outside the courthouse, and a security guard asked me if I was a defendant, while white folk in work clothes were walking right by.”  
He then asked me what I had done for a living before my Lyft retirement. I told him I was a pastor for 39 years. He immediately apologized for a few cuss words. I said, “Hey, those words are both biblical and useful.” He laughed. I pulled up to his destination and turned off the app. We talked for a good 10 minutes. He thanked me for the ride and I thanked him for the stories. He than offered, “I have a lot more stories”. Lyft sends a report the day following your driving. It has the details of how much you drove, how much you made, a record of tips and any comments. When I received my report the next morning it had a two word comment that I knew came from Alabama, “Thanks Man”. All I did was listen Bradon, you opened your heart and your pain.  
This week we approach ‘Holy Week’ and the words that echo in my heart are, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” I only wish that were true. We are not that innocent.
Onward and Upward,

4 thoughts on “Bradon

  1. This one made me cry, with the acknowledgement of all the hate still being fomented towards the innocent. And as you say, the work that needs to be done! Looking forward to our visit with you next month.

    Liked by 1 person

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