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:
- Outrage After Video Captures White Baton Rouge Police Officer Fatally Shoot a Black Man
- Another Fatal Police Shooting, Another Shocking Video
- After Philando Castile’s Killing, Obama Calls Police Shootings ‘an American Issue’
- Alton Sterling Shooting in Baton Rouge Prompts Justice Dept. Investigation
- Dallas Gunman Killed by Bomb Robot, ‘Wanted to Kill Officers,’ Officials Say