#Grief

Featured

In the latest of a series of gun related incidents, a man shot a reporter, photographer and witness, killing two of them before turning the gun on himself. I followed the story closely all day from my office as the tragic details emerged. But as the details came in, so did posts like these:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 9.31.38 PM

That got responses like this

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 9.34.18 PM
People were outraged to see a debate about gun violence so close to the incident. And their rage is completely understandable.

I want you to imagine that you’re in middle school. The resident bully sets up an elaborate prank wherein you are drenched with spoiled milk in front of your crush.  In the moments following this series of events, people start yelling about how bad bullying is, what a waste of milk that was and how this is a sign of the broken American school system. Now I ask you, do you care more about those arguments or the fact that you’ve lost your crush forever?

Look at it from this angle as well. People in the cafeteria are emotional, screaming and yelling at each other. When they’re calmed down by the aide, their feelings of rage go away-along with the energy to protest. Even worse, maybe their opinions, as well formed as they are, are invalidated as emotional ramblings. Maybe if they had waited until they were outside of the cafeteria, more people wouldn’t be in danger of rotten milk-but we can’t know for sure. Unfortunately, we deal with much bigger things than that every day.
When people use tragedies to support their causes so close to a horrible event, it can ignite others to take a stand as well. And that is important. But even more important are the lives of those directly affected. The families of the shooting victims need support the day of, not through angry tweets and yelling, but  with kindness and dignity.

Give them time to grieve.

Yes, gun violence, race issues, mental health are all topics that need to be discussed. Let us do that-after the memorial service. Maybe you’ll argue that no one will care if we wait long after a specific incident.  If that’s true, then you must take it upon yourself to remind people when they begin to forget. That’s why there’s #blacklivesmatter, #itgetsbetter, #heforshe. Not just for one singular tragedy. But to to raise awareness. To show we are fighting a long battle that we won’t win right away. To remember.

But we can do that all very soon. Right now, send your love and good feelings to the families and everyone at #WDJB. Because right now isn’t about mental illness, racial issues or gun violence.

It’s about healing.

It’s about community.
It’s about grief.

Advertisements

Carson’s Answer About Race: Big Applause for a Small Answer

Featured

At the beginning, I was enjoying the circus that was the Republican debate last night. But as the jabs at Hillary and uncomfortable comments about women’s rights to their bodies mounted up, it became less funny by the minute. All of a sudden, a question about the #blacklivesmatter movement was asked and it got…one answer. Then straight to commercial. And that commercial? A Straight Outta Compton trailer. I thought that this was the most angry I’d get last night.

I was wrong.

Later on in the debate, Ben Carson was asked what he would do to help the racial divide in the country. (yes, they asked the black candidate about this issue, a whole other thing in itself). Ben’s answer specifically to what he would do was:
“The skin…The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that. Our strength comes from our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states. Those who want to destroy us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.”

Now, on the surface this sounds like a well-constructed and great message. Carson points out that we should evaluate people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We can succeed if we unify ourselves and become one. And we shouldn’t let people divide us by racial lines. It all sounds nice, but as Jon Stewart said in his closing monologue (Daily show!), you’ve gotta pay attention to the bullshit.

The speech that Ben Carson gave not only avoided the question completely by being so hopelessly general, but is essentially a remix of the I Have A Dream speech. Carson wants us to look inside and overcome! This is a nice sentiment, but the fact is, we need a much more substantial answer than that. At least Scott Walker, when given less than a minute to answer the #blacklivesmatter question, mentioned specifically that police officers should be better trained for these crises. Ben Carson’s answer didn’t contain any concrete answers. This is not to take anything from Dr. King’s powerful and moving messages years ago. His words were exactly what we needed for the time, and King clearly backed that up with non-violent protests. Carson’s response are nothing more than words, air that is sure to dissapate if he ever achieved the high office.

It’s sad, because to some point, I agree with Carson. I want a nation where we look beyond skin, hair, gender, sexuality, ability and all other lines that divide us to unite us all. However, when Carson makes statements like, “I don’t talk about race because I’m a neurologist”, I lose all hope that he actually has a plan to get to the vision of that nation. I’m no stranger to politicians not living up to their promises. Every politician makes at least one promise they can’t keep. But when a black man does not have a solid answer for a problem in the black community that has become so prevalent in the last few years-I’m disappointed, to say the least.

The debate last night showed me a side of the political spectrum that I’m used to putting aside simply because I don’t like to listen. But last night showed me that I should start. Yes, it’s likely at this point that we’ll have a Democratic house in 2016. On paper, both parties still have a 50/50 shot at power. We can hope for Bernie Sanders and other independents, but history has shown that they are usually distractions for the main candidates. As both the Republicans and Democrats still have a strong chance for office, I can’t ignore the statements they made about race last night.

“#blacklives matter for less than two minutes of the debate. Let’s direct the question to the black candidate to put the pressure on him to deliver. Smile as he says nice words with no substance.

Now let’s make fun of Hillary Clinton again.” -Fox News.