What an empty feeling to start a day. What happened in Dallas, the city I grew up in, is still unfathomable to me.
I can’t imagine the grief of the families of the five officers who gave their lives in the line of duty…and the anguish of those families whose loved ones are in the hospital. Let’s all pray that those officers are able to return home to their loved ones. It’s a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude. Let’s all pray for Dallas.
Yesterday, I was trying to process the tragedies in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. And I think of the anguish of the families of those two men who lost their lives. And as I saw the reaction on social media to both these shootings (and I have already seen some of this re: Dallas), I’m frustrated to see people’s reactions and perceptions break down along predictable lines: if you say #blacklivesmatter that means you’re against law enforcement. If you support the police, that means you don’t care that African American men are killed in this country at an alarming and unacceptable rate. If you’re political, this is somehow all the other party’s fault. We saw similar storylines unfold in the wake of Orlando: if you support the Muslim community, you’re an ISIS sympathizer. And on it goes.
As a nation, we have to stop this.
Everything is not so black and white (pardon the expression). It is possible to believe Black Lives Matter (as I do); that what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile is unacceptable – and still hold law enforcement in high regard.
There are bad apple teachers, lawyers, doctors, but that doesn’t mean everyone in those professions is bad. In fact, the vast majority are honest, professional and dedicated to do what’s right. We have to look at law enforcement the same way. Remember those officers who ran toward the gunfire last night in Dallas — some of them are in the hospital this morning. Five of them are never going home again. That’s the kind of valor that few of us, honestly, can comprehend.
Similarly, those who support law enforcement (as I do) can recognize there is a problem when minorities are statistically so much more likely to be charged, arrested and yes, shot. And just as those are true facts, we need to focus on fact-based solutions — training? different policing techniques? — I don’t know the answer, but we need people who are experts to develop solutions and then policymakers to implement them. What we need not do is dismiss the real and understandable anger and apprehension many Americans feel in the wake of the news of another African American man killed.
So, as President Obama said last night (before Dallas, but it’s even more applicable now), we have to do better as a country. We are better.
It’s my hope in the wake of a terrible week, Dallas — and our larger North Texas community — will lead the way for our nation, forging a trail of better understanding, more appreciation for our fellow Americans, and real solutions to the tremendous challenges confronting us.