We started our week celebrating our country’s Independence. We end the week with the bitter recognition that our country cannot reach its full potential as long as our justice systems remain shackled by the legacy and continued existence of racism. I suspect many of us are suffering. I know I am.
The violent deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN by law enforcement raises for me strong feelings of anger, frustration, fear, suspicion and grief. Two days, two more black men dead during interactions with those entrusted to protect and serve.
Our justice systems are characterized by unjust and unacceptable disproportionality of stops, detention, arrests, incarceration and deaths of persons of color, especially black males. Individuals are slain and families are devastated. Much too often, children lose a father — and a grieving mother faces a future carrying the responsibilities and burdens of parenthood without her partner.
What used to be an occasional situation has progressed to becoming frequent to now a daily numbing experience. The videos shock and horrify us, however, these tragic situations occur every single day in every part of our country. Police brutality and hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and immigrants and refugees are unacceptable and must stop.
The shootings in Dallas, Texas, assassinations of police during a peaceful protest, add to the already heavy toll of physical and emotional harm, increase the risk of more violence and trauma, and will serve to further divide our communities when the exact opposite is what is needed. In the fight against racism and for justice, more violence is not an acceptable response. Targeting blacks and other persons of color is not acceptable. Targeting police is not acceptable.
We are suffering, and the communities we serve and work with are suffering. We grieve for and with the families and friends of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — and for all the others like them who have died while in our justice systems, but whose tragedies have not been captured on video.
We need to come together as a community and we need to take care of each other. Only as a united community will we have the ability to successfully fight poverty and racism and fight for justice for all. I hope and pray that next week will be one characterized by more peace and less violence, by seeking understanding and acceptance, and by less fear. I hope and pray that reconciliation will occur and that our systems of justice will be free of racism. I hope and pray that one day soon we will all understand and learn to behave as one world, one people, one love…