Our hearts are broken…

Our hearts are broken, for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, their families and loved ones.
Our hearts are broken, for the police officers shot in Dallas last night.
Our hearts are broken for our society, which is in need of healing at so many levels. alton2

Five things I know:

1. We must not allow the tragedy in Dallas to become an excuse to turn away from the deepening conversation about racial oppression that is beginning in our country. We must stay engaged. We must continue to stand together and work for a just society–even as we mourn with Dallas, and Baton Rouge, and St. Paul.

2. Some will try to use the Dallas tragedy to justify crackdowns on dissent and the militarization of the police. We must not allow this horrific event to justify suppression of grassroots movements for change.

3. Violence begets more violence, and ultimately solves nothing.

4. Therefore we must have the spiritual discipline to express profound anger, outrage and anguish…without hardening our hearts in hatred.

5. Symbolic statements and vigils are necessary parts of the healing process, and can help to unite communities, but they are not enough. We must act towards systemic change every day. Because the crisis of justice for communities of color in this nation continues, every day.

What can we do?

1. Demand top to bottom system-reform of the criminal justice system
2. Challenge racial bias in all its forms.
3. Work for racial justice here in our deeply unequal Richmond region
4. Listen and seek to understand one another; support one another in our struggles for change.
5. Strive for a democratic antiracist multicultural society in which every person’s life is valued regardless of race, cultural background, income, zip code, gender or sexual identity.

We call on all Richmonders to transform the anguish in our hearts to action for a more just and inclusive community.