Today I learned that yet another innocent black man died at the hands of the policeman who shot him 5 times as he was trying to follow directions and reach for his ID. His girlfriend and her 4 year old daughter were in the car, which was stopped for nothing more than a broken taillight. Only this time, he was a man who used to work at the cafeteria at my children’s school. He is remembered as being a kind, gentle man who would fist-bump kids as they walked by to get their lunches…he knew them by name and had a smile for each and every one of them. His name was Philando Castile, and the injustice of his death breaks me.
We spoke to our children this morning about the death of a hardworking, ambitious young man who had been stopped 31 times by the police simply because he was black. And how this time, the officer who stopped him decided he was a threat, again, simply because he was black. We told them about the danger of guns, and how once you shoot a gun and hurt someone, this is not something that you can “rewind” or “redo” like in a video game—the pain and hurt it creates is permanent and long lasting. We told them how important it is to care, respect, and love other human beings, while acknowledging and appreciating the diversity of humanity.
As we marched for Philando Castile this evening, my heart was heavy with the knowledge that there have been so many young African-American lives cut short by racism and bigotry. How do we go on knowing that this will likely happen again, and again, and again? When there is no way to reach into the minds and hearts of every police officer in our nation and make them pause and think for a moment before firing a gun out of fear or ignorance? How do we get past these injustices when their roots run deep, far and wide—through generations, within families, behind closed doors?
There will be no peace in this world unless we all become peacemakers—law enforcement, politicians, and civilians. And as peacemakers we need to be allies for one another. We also need to learn to heal from and undo the trauma that permeates our society, and in order to start that process we need to understand the trauma—not only the current trauma being perpetrated against African-Americans but also the historical trauma of slavery, lynchings, the N-word, and having to sit at the back of the bus. Only then can we learn how to be an ally. Only then can justice prevail. Only then can we hope for a better world for our children. Only then will we know peace.