My waking moment

I am a middle-aged White male, proudly born and raised a son of the South, though not always proud of things we Southerners have done, or the way we have treated others. But I would never describe myself as “woke.” Even now, I’m not entirely sure what that term means. But I can tell you the experience, circumstances and the year that I woke up, and finally came to realize the challenges almost all African Americans likely experience in their lives, that I was likely never to experience in mine. 

It was 2015, and through a friend, I received a call from someone I had met briefly once before, Lisa Cupid, a Cobb County commissioner. As our conversation began, her voice was trembling, she was still clearly in shock and had suffered recent trauma. I can’t do her story justice, but I will try. 

Lisa Cupid was a young mother of two, living with her husband in southwest Cobb County, near the Six Flags Amusement Park. Cupid had been elected District 4 commissioner in 2012, the first Black female on the Cobb County Commission, and at the time, its lone Democrat. In 2012, she also completed her law degree studies at Georgia State University but had not yet taken the state bar examination. She was determined to pass the bar. Fortunately, Cupid found a friend and campaign supporter who owned a hotel several miles from her home with a comfortable lobby, wi-fi, and coffee readily available for late-night studying. For several nights a week, often until early morning, Cupid studied in that lobby.  

After a long night of study, carrying her law books, she trudged out to her car for the short drive home. Another vehicle pulled out almost immediately behind her, following closely and copying her every turn and signal. As she grew closer to home, she became increasingly concerned that the vehicle aggressively tailing her had some intention to do her harm. So, she purposely chose to turn into the wrong subdivision and see if she could lose the tail.  She called 911, shared her situation, her fear, and the fact that she was a Cobb County commissioner, as she rapidly turned around in a cul-de-sac and raced out of the subdivision. Finally, the car stopped following her and broke away.

Cupid would soon learn that her pursuer was actually an undercover Cobb County police officer driving an unmarked car. Later Cupid was told the officer was working the hotel and surrounding area, looking into a series of automobile break-ins. Fortunately, Cupid was not beaten, nor killed by the errant officer; she was simply terrorized for the crime of leaving a hotel lobby late at night while being a Black woman. 

I assisted the commissioner during those trying days and weeks. I strangely got calls, some from peers and others who lived in Cobb County, each a White male, each chastising me. 

“You live in DeKalb County, why are you even involved in this?” “You might be doing your own business harm by sticking your nose into this matter.” “I thought you had more sense than to wade into something like this…”

These calls were a nuisance, but my life was not altered, and I was not suffering daily slings and arrows as Cupid was, nor being isolated on the commission, nor spoken ill of publicly. And yet, she persisted.

Cupid is now a candidate for Cobb Commission chair, she has no primary opposition and will face either current Chair Mike Boyce or one of his GOP primary opponents in November. She recently led the commission in the unanimous adoption of a resolution condemning racism in all its forms. Though there is still a long way to go, she has made inroads with reforming policing in Cobb. 

Though I no longer make public endorsements, if I lived in Cobb County, there is no question for whom I would be voting. As important as the recent marches and protests were for thousands, electing people such as Lisa Cupid is more important. And not all the candidates similar to Lisa have Black faces, nor are they all Democrats.

Knowing who knows what and who understands the way things are, as well as the need for more than subtle change is what will make the difference between a series of dramatic events, and a movement. Choose wisely and vote.

 Bill Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion, DeKalb Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can reach him or comment on a column at bill.csicrane@gmail.com. 

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