NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Nashville author shared a beautiful example of confronting racial bias.
Carlos Whittaker says he formed a bias against his neighbor who has a large American flag draped on his front door and two white bunny statues in his front yard.
In the four years the two have been neighbors, Whittaker says the neighbor in his 70s never acknowledged him, even when he waved, smiled or shouted “morning.”
"My racial bias thought this old, white man who ignored me, with an American flag hanging in front of his door, in the Deep South, didn't like brown people," said Whittaker. "That's a bias that I had. We all have biases, right."
On Monday, Whittaker says he spotted the man walk out his front door with a can of paint and he proceeded to paint one of his white bunnies black. The sight brought Whittaker to tears.
“For the next 12 hours I was trying to come up with 1,000 other reasons why he painted that bunny black,” wrote Whittaker on Instagram. “Besides the reason my gut was telling me.”
So, when Whittaker spotted his neighbor in his driveway the next day, he walked across the street to ask him why he painted the statue. The man said he was trying to “gently” show his support for the African America community, “with the motivation of what’s going on in the country.”
According to Whittaker, the small act of kindness was his neighbor's way of saying black lives matter, because he couldn't go downtown to the protests.
Whittaker proceeded to tell his neighbor that he’s trying to help his friends realize that we all can develop some form of racial bias against others.
“There’s this thing called racial bias that I’m trying to help my friends understand that they have,” said Whittaker to the man. “Whereas, someone like me that travels full-time for a living will normally have a bias that says, ‘oh look it’s an older white gentleman with an American flag up on his door,’ that my bias automatically says, ‘he may not like me.’”
Whittaker went on to express his gratitude for the neighbor’s kind act and then he apologized.
“I just wanted to tell you that I’m so grateful and that I apologize if I ever assumed anything, because that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” said Whittaker to the neighbor.
Whittaker posted the touching moment with his neighbor to social media, encouraging others to have uncomfortable conversations and to admit their own biases.
“Protests may change policy,” wrote Whitaker. “But conversations change communities.”