Man’s response to hungry kid a lesson in opportunity, not just charity

Source: The Commercial Appeal / David Waters

It’s not just the feel-good story of this miserably hot summer.

It’s a parable for a community that is one of the nation’s most generous and most impoverished.

It’s also an allegory for a city and a nation still struggling mightily to recognize and reconcile its systemic racism, dependency and inequality.

The story begins one evening inside a Kroger, where a black teenager, 15-year-old Chauncy Black, is asking customers to carry their groceries in exchange for food.

The first seven people say no. Maybe they’re in a hurry. Maybe they think the teenager is trying to scam them. Maybe they worry that a young black man is trying to rob them.

The eighth person, 31-year-old Matt White, doesn’t say no. He stops, looks and listens. He sees a kid who is hungry and needs help.

He doesn’t give the kid a lecture or a couple of dollars. He doesn’t ask where’s your father or your mother? Why don’t they feed you?

He buys the kid $70 worth a groceries. Then he takes him home, meets the kid’s diabetic and disabled grandmother, and sees there’s no food in the fridge and they sleep on the floor.

He doesn’t judge the missing mother or father. He doesn’t blame bleeding-heart liberals for a culture of dependency, or frozen-heart conservatives for economic inequality.

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