Facing Reality & Doing Something About It

The Headlines

Every morning, the headlines reveal another national tragedy: the death of Alton Sterling on July 5th, the death of Philando Castile on July 6th, and the deaths of five Dallas police officers on July 7th.

It’s times like these when I retreat into books, into the comforting fiction that helps me hide from our hate-filled world.

This is when I read old favorites like L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Jane Austen’s Persuasion, books that don’t directly address the racism of their eras and were written when assault rifles didn’t exist.

However, this time, I can’t read fiction, at least not today. I have to face reality, and I encourage others to do so too.

If you haven’t watched the videos of Alton Sterling’s and Philando Castile’s deaths, please do. They are graphic and highly disturbing, just like the open casket at Emmett Till’s funeral 60 years ago.

We have to confront the brutality of these killings and its underlying causes. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — and far too many others — died at the hands of police officers because they were black. We have to face racism, including our own implicit biases, and we have to recognize how this racism infects every system in our country, from access to education to the administration of justice.

We also have to watch the video of Alton Sterling’s son, a trembling child devastated by the senseless loss of his father. Anyone who isn’t moved by the emotion in this video isn’t human.

And now we have a video from Dallas of the man shooting police officers, turning a peaceful protest of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile into the deadliest day for police officers since 9/11. The shooter had an AR-15. Why on earth would anyone have such a weapon? That’s a question our politicians have to answer.

In the United States, we have an election coming up in November. People who want our government to face the problems ravaging our country, such as systemic racism and the proliferation of guns, must register to vote and get to the polls. We have to hold our representatives accountable.

Our reality is too devastating to ignore.


The image is a composite of these headlines:


  1. I have turned to fiction, because I can’t cry anymore about this. I watch in horror, paralyzed by the way people treat each other. Banning assault rifles would be a first step. We had a ban before, but the NRA did its work well and wiped that out.

    I not only can’t imagine how black mothers feel and fear for their children, but more what it does to the fragile psyches of the young children to know that their lives are at risk by merely existing. Our society is on the verge of a serious breakdown over this issue. People of good will are getting frustrated by the do-nothing government and the impunity with which officers kill black people. The shooter in Dallas apparently finally broke over this issue and became militant in his irrational way. This is the canary in the coal mine, and we would do well to think of ways to stop the violence now, rather than later.

  2. Thank you for this post, Amal. Like you, I’ve struggled this week with being unable to escape from the terrifying events going on in our country and around the rest of the world. I’m trying to have hope for the future but it’s not always easy.

    1. Thanks, Maggie. News like this affects me more deeply now that I’m a mother. I can only imagine how parents of African American children must be feeling right now. In many ways, what’s going on isn’t new (Emmett Till’s murderers admitted to killing him after they were acquitted). It’s sad that our society hasn’t changed as much as it should have by now.

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