Posted by on June 7, 2020

Over the past week, many of my non-Black friends have called, emailed, or texted to check on me and ask some form of “How are you doing? Are you OK?”

I appreciate the concern, and I answer every inquiry.

I’m not OK.
I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.

The past 3 months have felt like 3 years.

First, COVID-19 caused me to have to temporarily close two retail stores, lead my team through uncertainty, apply for disaster loans, and learn how to produce face masks, all while homeschooling a kindergartner and 4th grader.

After a while, I started to enjoy working from home, and revenues started to recover, thanks to online sales.

I read the book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. It teaches tactics for time management, like tuning out news and social media, and turning off notifications, so you can focus and be more productive.

To clear my mind, I’d detach from social media and coronavirus news. I’d take long outdoor jogs in the warm Georgia sun. Running is a form of fitness and meditation for me.

For a moment, life was good. Still strange, but good.

Then I witnessed the on-camera murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young Black boy who also happened to be out for a jog, just 319 miles from where I live. He was gunned down in the street by close-range shotgun blasts. According to preliminary court hearings, the white shooter stood over his body and said “f–king n–ger” after killing him.

The killers walked free for 2 months, until the public video saw the video. Even in 2020, this is the world we live in.

That scene still haunts me when I’m out for my daily jogs.

This is why I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Then I saw a video of a white lady in Central Park call the police and tell them that she was being threatened by an African-American man. That man, Christian Cooper, was peacefully birdwatching, and had simply asked her to follow the park rules and put her dog on a leash. Christian Cooper caught the entire interaction, including her lies, on video. Had he not, those lies could have resulted in cops arresting, beating, and/or killing him. Fortunately, she didn’t get away with it, but the whole interaction made my blood boil.

Then after that, I saw the on-camera murder of George Floyd, where a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes while George screamed over and over “I can’t breathe.” Despite his cries, and despite pleas from onlookers to stop, the cop continued kneeling until even after George’s body went limp.

Enough. Ok, now I’m pissed. I feel/felt like I’m the one being hunted.

The night I saw the video, I was at the office alone working late. I cranked up “F—k Tha Police” by N.W.A. in my headphones, on repeat, to help me cope with the anger.

This is why I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I’m not the only one. People are starting to wake up. Now there are Black Lives Matter protests in 3 continents…18 different countries. Finally some hopeful signs of change.

But then I saw officers shoot tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters in our nation’s capital, seemingly instructed or encouraged by the President of the United States. The protesters were exercising their First Amendment rights. I feel like this is un-American in every way.

It seems our leadership is taking no actions to unify this country, only to further divide us. Who do we turn to when those who are supposed to protect us, might kill us?

So, yeah…this is why I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.

And how does one explain this to kids?

This was literally our dinner conversation the other night. Imagine saying this to a 6 and 10 year old:

Me: “I know we taught you to call the police (911) when something bad happens. Police are here to protect you. BUT police are people too, and as you all know, some people are bad. So you have to be careful because some police officers might hurt or even kill you.”

My kids: “Yeah, but if they kill you won’t they go to jail?”

Me: “Well, not always. More often than not, they find a way to get away with it. Like they’ll say it was self-defense or something.”

My kids: Blank stares. “Why?”

Me: “Some people hate other people just because of the color of their skin…”

Them: “Oh yeah, we learned about Martin Luther King in school. He changed that!”

Me: “…”

Now can you see why I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted? Maybe you are too.

Being “indistractable” by tuning out the news was working well for me, until it felt like the news was about me.

Now I find myself glued to my screen from the moment I wake up. And even if I could tune out the news right now, should I? What positive change would come from ignoring the problem?

It’s time for action. Inaction is what got us to this point.

One way I take action is by continuing to be a successful Black entrepreneur, and by continuing to help other business owners grow. Especially by mentoring or creating new opportunities for those affected by recent events.

I’m fortunate to have close friends from all races. Another thing I find myself doing lately is facilitating conversations to help people understand what its like to walk in another person’s shoes.

Yes, it’s exhausting too, but important work in getting closer to a solution.

We are also donating to organizations that fight racial injustice.

This is just the beginning.

So how are you doing right now? Let me know in the comments.

Please follow and like us:
Posted in: Recent Articles

Comments

  1. Conor Neill
    June 8, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Ethan, thank you for sharing.

  2. David Brinkman
    June 8, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Honestly, I’m struggling with the view from others experiences who look different than me. We all have biases, but I try to look at everyone as an individual. I think I’m pretty successful. When I see the looting and rioting I’m angry. I can’t understand. When I read your post and watch the video I’m sad. Anger for me goes away, sadness stays around much longer. Thank you for bringing the perspective from someone I trust and admire.

    • Ethan King
      June 9, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Thank you for your honesty and for taking the time to read this, David. Much love.

  3. Aaron Lee
    June 10, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Honestly I’m sad. And unsettled And confused. Throughout my life I’ve always tried to demonstrate my beliefs versus just speak about them. Now I’m even more resolved and determined to lean into the things I’ve always believed but sometimes lacked the courage to defend. out loud. This also includes listening harder and with more empathy. Where I’m still struggling is whether I should “put the microphone down” so that others can speak or if I should speak up and speak out loud for what I believe. I honestly don’t know. Thank you for sharing your truth, I want you to know that I listened hard my friend.

    • Ethan King
      June 11, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Aaron – ever since I met you, your beliefs have always shone through your actions. Keep being the impactful leader that you are, and demonstrating your positive values. Thanks for taking the time to listen.

  4. Don Lamont
    June 11, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Ethan,
    I am sorry. Please forgive us. I too thought this was behind us. I apparently live in a blind world. As a boy I can remember the terror I felt as our family Huddled in a corner my dad standing over us with his hunting rifle as mobs burnt houses and cars near our home in California. I did not understand then and I still struggle to understand now. Our world needs you Ethan, I need you. Lead us, we will follow you.

    • Ethan King
      June 11, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Don, good to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to read this and chime in. That had to be a scary moment. Was it the Rodney King riots?

  5. David Felfoldi
    June 11, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Thank you for sharing authentically.

    I’ve started the conversation about the police with our kids. While pale skinned, I wanted them to understand that no one is good or bad by default, that people make bad decisions, and we have to hold them accountable. This was so confusing for a 6yo – “I thought cops help us?” And I had to be honest – most do. But some don’t, and we don’t know which ones, and some make bad decisions based on how someone looks. Her reply “That’s silly, we are all humans, why would you do that?”

    Exactly. Why? And yet we do, and we protect that behavior, allowing it to fester and continue. We must eradicate it.

  6. Candra Thomas
    June 14, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    Well said Ethan!!!

  7. Steve Cornwell
    June 15, 2020

    Leave a Reply

    We have to do better. It’s not enough to just be anti-racism. Everyone has to speak up, even when it is uncomfortable to do so. Good cops have to call out bad cops! Parents have to have deep conversations with their children on all sides. When we see injustice and inequality, we have to call it out at every turn. Voting is the easiest way to do something, but that is not enough! We have to be vigilant and not complacent when it may not directly impact us. Thanks for writing your feelings buddy! I hope you know I feel your pain, but also realize that I can’t completely put my self in your shoes, but I promise to never stop trying.

    • Ethan King
      June 15, 2020

      Leave a Reply

      Thanks so much, Steve. And you’re right, we all have to call it out when we see it…even when we notice it in people we’re close to.

Leave a Reply


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*