It is hard to write about things where you risk emotions getting the better of your words. It is harder yet to stay quiet.
One rarely hopes to encounter numbing stupidity in life, as those encounters leave you drained. The entire HB2 drama currently going on in North Carolina, specific to something bold the city of Charlotte tried to do… a city I’ve happened to call home for some of the best years of my life…is one such numbingly stupid episode.
But we need to remember something.
Cities are not defined by their politics; they are defined by their people.
In the 15 years I have lived in Charlotte, I can say, unequivocally, that there are not many other cities (in the world) where I will find people I love calling my neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family (and yes, I have lived in a few of them).
The people of Charlotte have mastered the art of balancing respect in their hearts with ambitions in their heads. This city loves its businesses with as much intensity as its neighborhoods, balances a liberal wit with traditional credo, and allows someone with $40,000 or $400,000 to enjoy equally the best life can offer.
Having grown up in a city that prides itself in being the largest in the world, I have enjoyed immensely the gifts Charlotte bestows upon its citizens often – young culture, superb quality of life, excellent professional opportunities, and a ‘must-do’ attitude.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been raised with the belief that anyone can succeed at anything – no matter what country their birth, what color their skin, or what gender their choice. In the people of Charlotte, I find an existence of that very environment that reinforces the belief system I grew up with.
It is deeply unfortunate, however, that the current political stupidity of HB2 threatens to detract and distract from those strengths that have been years in the making.
So here is where I stand on it:
- Yes, I will support, sign, sustain, and strengthen any effort for the repeal of HB2.
- No, I do not plan to do so to gain publicity for myself, my company, or my beliefs.
- Yes, I would like the media to focus more on citizen stories of the people this impacts the most and voice how they feel about it (thank you, Bruce Springsteen…it was good to have you put the focus back on the voice of the people).
- No, I do not plan to regale in corporate stories ‘threatening’ to leave (alright, I get it money talks, but I want someone to fact check 2 things – 1. How many of the corporations planning to come here were coming for economic incentives vs. social perspectives AND 2. Of all the CEOs who are threatening to leave, how many are actually doing the homework to act on it?)
- Yes, I plan to use every public forum I can get to share my utter disdain for what has happened (just like I did at the Charlotte Analytics Conference last week).
- No, I do not plan to move Tresata out of Charlotte (I don’t understand how uprooting 20+ families from Charlotte helps those families, our city, or the cause). In fact, let’s bring hundreds more companies to Charlotte who bring jobs for millions more open minded men, women, and LGBT…and I can assure you that over time no petty, petulant politician will ever occupy a seat of power in North Carolina again…that is how you enable social change.
- Yes, I believe this political theater will go away soon (I do like making predictions after all).
- No, politicians shall not dictate or decide who we are…they never can and never will.
Until then, we will continue in earnest to represent the people of Charlotte with pride, lead the world with a vision that’s bold, and create a center of business and cultural innovation only Charlotte can pull off.
And we will continue building, with renewed vigor, the next $100 Billion company in Charlotte…one that treats all humans as equal, as special and as loved as anywhere in the world. That’s the Charlotte I moved to.
As for HB2, let it serve as a reminder (once repealed) to future generations that morally bankrupt politicians can inflict irreparable damage to just one thing, themselves.
My (our) commitment to the people of Charlotte is stronger than ever… something no stupid politics (politicians) can shake.