My neighborhood is ordinarily a fairly social place. When the weather is warm, kids play soccer and basketball or ride bikes and Razors, calling to each other as they race past. You hear music coming from homes and passing cars. There are greetings, conversations, and laughter.
We’re from different parts of the globe. Some of us are poor, none of us is wealthy. There are newish cars and long work hours, barbecues on weekends, groans and cheers when a local team has a game televised.
After the back-to-back killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, my neighborhood fell silent. No one played music, kids stayed indoors, there weren’t any conversations or greetings. The only sound that broke the quiet was a woman weeping one night, sporadically, from dark until I went to sleep. It felt like an illness traveling through every home.
It went on for over a week. Then the sniper fire in Dallas happened and added its own sickening dimension. And the police killings in Baton Rouge. And the shooting of Charles Kinsey in Miami.
It’s a list that probably will not end soon. And, really, it can’t end soon enough. Where do we go from here? All I’m sure of is it’s going to take cool heads and calm hearts. I’m also pretty sure the solution isn’t high octane rhetoric and hair-trigger distrust for anyone who doesn’t resemble us. That’s how we got here, it’s not the road out.
When we’re on that threatened-frightened-angry continuum, what we do is hammer whoever we don’t know or don’t like into the shape of our fear. We need to step back and take a breath. We have to do better than that.