Tragedy, Heartache and Opportunity
I’ve been trying to write for the past two days, and I can’t seem to get it done. Given the tragedy of the past few days – the senseless deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge (LA), Philando Castile in Falcon Heights (MN) and five Dallas police officers – posting a light story and a pasta recipe didn’t seem right.
This has been a trying week, and it seems like the heartache and tragedy have no end in sight. It makes me wonder what has gone so wrong that we have a hashtag honoring new victims of violence almost daily.
To top it off, my son and I had an encounter with a man in the parking lot at summer camp drop-off on Friday morning. This man, who I assume is the dad of another of the campers, felt it was necessary to jump out of his car and verbally attack my child for *almost* tapping his car with our car door. My son, who can usually let things roll off his back pretty easily, felt shaken and upset when, only moments before, he was so excited about being at camp.
It Made Me Wonder
When did it become okay for an adult to value his car’s paint job over a child’s worth and energy and sense of self? When did being stopped by the police mean being shot to death in front of a 4-year-old? And when did a peaceful protest become an opportunity for a disturbed individual to violently gun down police officers? Have we become so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to understand the concept of love and kindness and compassion toward our fellow human beings?
My heart aches for the families and loved ones of those we lost this week. I can’t imagine what they must be feeling. But I know that their losses cannot be in vain. We all have a responsibility to do something to make things better.
If we truly want to turn this around, we need to take a step back and look at what has brought us to this place. I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s thoughts on these recent events. So many have eloquently expressed their outrage and heartbreak far better that I ever could. So rather than try to make sense of this tragic week myself, I thought I would share some wise words from wise people.
Voices of Tragedy
Whether 2 of you reading this or 200, I hope you’ll take some time to explore some of these resources. They’ve helped me sort through my feelings and try to make sense of the senseless. I hope they can do the same for you.
Cool Mom Picks provided a wonderful compilation of links in response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Keep in mind, this came out before the Dallas shootings, so resources related to violence against police are not included.
To help explain the bias that Black people in America feel every day, read this. Thomas sheds light on the reality of the Black Tax and how weary our African American brothers and sisters have become. In contrast, one of my favorite bloggers, Jill from Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, writes about understanding White Privilege and how critical that has become.
This Baton Rouge mom explains why Alton Sterling’s death has changed how she talks with her White sons. It breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time.
Of course, any number of news outlets can provide you with detailed accounts of what has happened and how things continue to unfold. And if you’re looking for something to do, @joshuadubois offers this option – a simple letter you can write to your local police chief. Adapt it as needed to reflect your own questions, concerns and feelings.
Out of Tragedy Comes Opportunity
If you feel, like I do, that these events present an opportunity, I encourage you to do something. Do something to support your African American friends and neighbors. (Hint: start by educating yourself on what Black Lives Matter really means. Read this simple analogy to help you understand.) Do something to appreciate the difficult and sometimes dangerous work our police officers do to protect us.
Write a letter, talk to a friend, try to make a difference. But please don’t answer violence with more violence. Don’t respond to hate with more hate. We all need to do our part to stop that cycle and fix our broken communities.
On that note, I’ll leave you, again, with wiser words than mine. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of our most eloquent leaders put it beautifully …
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
Please don’t be silent any more. Don’t let the bad people win. Let love win and peace prevail. Please.
What will you do to end the cycle of hate and violence? Leave your actions, ideas and comments below.