How an appointment to get an appliance fixed led to an important conversation on race

“Nightline” speaks to Caroline Brock and appliance technician Ernest Skelton, who was visiting her home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina when she asked him what it was like being black in the U.S.
5:16 | 06/26/20

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Transcript for How an appointment to get an appliance fixed led to an important conversation on race
thousands to lean in and learn, a conversation long ignored in this country. Ernest, a technician on call to Carolyn's house. She asked him what it was like to be a black man in America. Caroline posting their interaction on Facebook, hoping it would inspire others to open up the conversation, writing that Ernest told her he gets pulled over in Myrtle Beach at least six times a year. He doesn't get pulled over for traffic violations but on the suspicion of him being a suspect in one crime or another and three doesn't work past dinnertime, not because he doesn't need the business, but because it isn't safe for him to be out after dark. This information shocked her. Caroline reflected on this experience, adding to her post, I could begin healing our country by talking frankly with African-Americans in my world, by listening to their lived experience and speaking up. Let's start by listening and lafting up. It's that simple. Her post going viral, receiving more than 180,000 shares. But in the comments, people expressing their fear to have these uncomfortable conversations. Earlier today I caught up with Ernest and Caroline. Here's what they told me about that eye-opening conversation. So Caroline, first question to you. What made you decide to put this on Facebook and what impact did you hope the story would hope? The Minneapolis riots were ratcheting up, and there was a lot of tension, and everyone was feeling a lot of different emotions. When he came to the door I asked him how he was doing and what's been his experience in terms of police interaction, and he just started talking and it was very surprising to me. So it sounds like you helped Caroline get woke. I believe so. How do you go from, is the dishwasher working to what does it mean to be black in America. How did you phrase that first question? What I did was I greeted him at the door and I said how are you feeling? And he thought I was talking about the coronavirus. And I said no, how are you feeling with what's going on with these riots, and then he started to talk. And, you know, he started to tell me his feelings, and I then said can you give me an idea if this happens to you? What's going on with the police here in Myrtle Beach, and that's when we just started talking. Ernest, your spirit was open to having the conversation. When you're sitting here with two degrees and never been in trouble with the law, and then you know you're back against the wall, and it's hard for us to survive out here, and speaking with Caroline, you know, we all, all we want to be is heard. What was your reaction when a white woman asks you how did it feel to be a black man in America? Oh, devastating. I was supposed to be coming here to work on her apply anse, but it seemed she was more interested in how it is to be black, and that, when I looked at her, she showed me that she was sincere. You have a number of clients now, you're doing well. You take care of them. But after dark you check taking jobs around. Tell me about that. When we get pulled over for no reason, and it's dark, you know, you're terrified. That's a concern that we have, am I going to be able to make it home or see another day. What do you say to a number of people who are uncomfortable to cross the color line, if you will, to have these difficult conversations? What would you say to them? I would just say to open up their hearts and to start to tune in to their heart's wisdom and what their heart is saying. And you know, if you make a mistake or say the wrong word, that's okay. These are tricky conversations. Just be open and honest. So from your perspective, in this conversation that you all had, what's next do you think for you? Hoping things get better. It's overwhelming, you know, I'm getting a lot of love, and that means a lot. And I just want people to get to know me. Once you get to know me, just like Carolina did, you'll see I'm not a bad person. It sounds like, Caroline, that Ernest is saying you weren't just color blind, you chose to be color brave. I think that this time in our nation's history and in the world is about the heart. I think sometimes we can push for policies and laws to protect the most vulnerable and to dismantle parts of the system, and that's really important, but in the south there also needs to be some heart healing. I don't want to see another four or five generations going by with these issues. We all benefit when we have interactions with each other that are deeper. Carolina didn't know anything about me, but she took a chance, African American guy, to come into her home, didn't know me from Adam and eve, but she allowed me to come in, work on her appliance, and she was devastated the whole time and showed much respect. And when I get that from customers I go the extra mile. I call that a good day. Thank you so much, thank you for your graciousness, your eloquence, thank you for your witness. I wish both of you continued grace. Thank you, sir.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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