The World Goes On

This morning I woke up to news from McKinney, Texas, where over the weekend a police officer broke up a pool party, throwing a 14-year-old girl to the ground and pointing his gun at nearby teens.

There was news out of New Jersey, where state troopers shot tear gas into a crowd outside a concert, arresting 61 people and turning ticket-bearing customers away.

From my home town of Oakland, CA, there was news that police shot and killed a man who was sleeping in a car with a handgun on the seat next to him.

And then there’s news of Kalief Browder, a young man arrested at 16 for stealing a backpack. The charges were eventually dismissed, but not before he spent three years in prison without a trial.

At the age of 22, Kalief committed suicide this weekend.

This is the world we live in.

I listened to these stories on the news this morning, interspersed with tidbits on race horses and football players. I listened to these stories of death and destruction, stories of our own criminal justice system turning against us.

And for a moment I wondered how I was supposed to get up and go to work today as if nothing had happened.

Now we all experience moments of tragedy. Through personal tragedies and national tragedies we persevere.

And there can be great power and strength in that. In soldiering on despite the torrent of tragedy, in pushing through a world which has ceased to make sense.

For many of us, that’s part of the healing process. When nothing will ever be okay again, step one is desperately pretending that everything is okay.

But this morning felt different.

These were black men and women being attacked, these were black bodies who were suffering.

The message wasn’t that we were facing a deep national tragedy, that we somehow had to get through it together and soldier on despite the gnawing despair within each one of us.

The message was that it was someone else’s problem, that it was other communities being affected. Their world might be crumbling down, but my world went on.

I was supposed to get up and go to work because my world hadn’t changed.

The police aren’t coming for me.

My world goes on.

But my world has changed. It changes every time an innocent person is shot in our streets and every time our criminal system is about less than justice.

My world has changed.

These are our neighbors, our streets, our laws. This is fundamentally about our society, and everyone’s right to exist equally within it.

And until we each realize that, until we see it as our collective world shattering, until we accept that it is our responsibility to make our society better, until then –

The world will just go on.

As if nothing has changed.

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