“There Exists in Yellow the Hope of Something Audacious” ~ photo and quote, Richard R. Russey, 2016
It is the week after the Fourth of July in the USA, a holiday celebrating our independence and freedom. In this week, two more black lives were ended by police violence. Today, police officers in Dallas have been killed and injured during what initially was a peaceful protest of police violence. Along with so many others I am riveted with horror and despair.
Our society has created the inequalities and violence that we seem to expect our police to single-handedly deal with. That’s an unfair expectation. I respect the difficult job police officers have and the great work that so many do. As a society we need to do something real to address the social injustices that weaken our country. An important starting point is to recognize that too many police officers wield their power abusively, targeting people of color.
I wonder, sometimes, whether men and women in fact are capable of learning from history–whether we progress from one stage to the next in an upward course or whether we just ride the cycles of boom and bust, war and peace, ascent and decline.
― Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
This abuse of power is by no means new. This kind of violence has been directed toward those outside the circle of unearned privilege throughout our history and continues today. People of color and women of all races have suffered from it in the past and suffer from it today.
There is no one easy solution this ugly and complicated problem. Yet there are things each of us can do, individually and collectively.
Will such actions bring the needed change? I wish I could say “yes” and be certain of that. The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that when each of us does what is right, we make a difference for ourselves and for those around us. When we act collectively to demand an end to the conditions that result in violence, acknowledging and addressing the many factors that contribute to it, we can make a difference.
There is much to despair of in our country today. I acknowledge that and will not be paralyzed by it. I will continue to hope for a better world for all of us, and to believe that it is possible. I will use that hope to motivate my actions.
Here are some of the actions I will take:
I will voice my thoughts and feelings.
I will share what others say so much more eloquently than I can.
I will speak up and speak out for understanding, caring and compassion.
I will initiate and be open to meaningful conversations about race and racial identity.
I will emphasize the importance of self-compassion, the necessary pre-condition to compassion for others.
I will acknowledge that I benefit from the unearned privilege that goes with the color of my skin.
I will offer gatherings in settings that are accessible and welcoming to diverse audiences and that offer opportunity for connection, dialogue and growth.
I will advocate the policy and social changes needed to bring about a more just and peaceful country.
Others have written and spoken about these issues for more eloquently than I. I encourage you to explore their perspectives.
From Charlie Gilkey, Ph.D., CEO and founder at Productive Flourishing
Representative Elijah Cummings, who represents my district:
Attorney Rachel Rogers:
Brene Brown, researcher, author, speaker, shares her thoughts on hate and blame.