Distressed

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The current political climate is forcing people to have frank conversations about racism.

One white woman who asked her Black repairman about his experience with racial discrimination was taken aback by his answer.

Caroline Crockett Brock from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, asked her appliance repairman, Ernest Skelton what he thought about racism in the U.S.

Ernest, 45, explained how he’s stopped by police often, the fact that he can’t work when it’s late in case people accuse him of loitering or breaking into people’s homes, and the names he’s called while on the job.

Taking to Facebook, Caroline said it was the first time she’d such an honest conversation about race and encouraged others to do the same.

Since the post went viral, thousands of people said the exchange had been illuminating for them.

The post received so much attention, the Myrtle Beach city manager got in touch with Caroline and Ernest to make sure the experiences in his home town improve.

Ernest who isn’t on Facebook even made a profile to see all the love for him pour in.

In the post, Caroline wrote: ‘Ernest, a middle-aged, friendly, successful business owner, gets pulled over in Myrtle Beach at least six times a year.

‘He doesn’t get pulled over for traffic violations, but on the suspicion of him being a suspect in one crime or another. Mind you, he is in uniform, driving in a work van clearly marked with his business on the side.

‘They ask if he’s selling drugs. These cops get angry if he asks for a badge number or pushes back in any way. Every time he is the one who has to explain himself, although they have no real cause to question him.’

She continued: ‘Ernest used to help folks out after dark with emergencies. Not anymore. He does not work past dinnertime, not because he doesn’t need the business, but because it isn’t safe for him to be out after dark.

‘Let me say that again. Ernest, a middle-aged black man in uniform cannot work past dark in Myrtle Beach in 2020 because it’s not safe for him. He did not say this with any kind of agenda. It was a quiet, matter of fact truth.

‘A truth that needs to be heard.’

Ernest also revealed to Caroline how the most infuriating part of his experiences is when he’s referred to as a ‘boy’.

He told her it happens often, despite being a 45-year-old man with a degree in electronics.

Moved by his account, Caroline asked Ernest what she could do to help.

She wrote: ‘I am a 45-year-old white woman living in the south. I can begin healing our country by talking frankly with African Americans in my world – by LISTENING to their lived experience and speaking up.

‘I can help by actively promoting black-owned businesses. That’s what I can do today. Let’s start by listening and lifting up. It’s that simple.’