Friday, July 8, 2016

An Open Letter to the Dallas (insert your city) Law Enforcement

Dear officer/firefighter/first responder/etc.,
Your work, though often unnoticed, under-acknowledged, and/or ignored, is appreciated and respected. Sadly, it takes days like this for us to remember to give credit and thanks where it is due. So for starters, THANK YOU.  I want to remind you that the mission you took hold of when choosing your profession is still worthy and needed.  Unfortunately, the image of what your uniform stands for has been tainted by the ones who choose to misuse the power entrusted to them. However, wear it just as proudly. Continue your mission to maintain peace and justice as you first set out to do. Keep performing your duties with peace and compassion when at all possible, and strength and resolve when necessary, and humility and regret if ever it is due. In doing so, you have the ability to transform the culture of unrest, anger, division, and hate.
I have seen the faces of lives lost too soon, but you have seen more. I have hurt for those who had to face it but you had to face it while still performing duties required of you. You have felt fear, but felt the urge to protect those you serve stronger. You have moved forward where others have cowered. You have stood your ground where others have run. You have put on that uniform every day knowing it could be the last day you do so. All for me, and others far less grateful...even others who hate you and all you stand for.
To you I say keep standing.

Families of law enforcers,
You deserve our respect, and appreciation, and gratitude. I hurt for you tonight as I see videos that went live on social media of the final moments of officers lives on the front lines...grainy videos broadcast nationwide. Silluoettes with no faces of what can be assumed to be any officer on duty. I am sure you were wondering if it was them. Standoffs and negtiations continue in a parking active shooting situation...and you wonder if they were one of the chosen negotiators. You battle being torn between pride of the part that they play and wishing this once they decided to be selfish.
All I can say is be proud.
They are a hero whether it is just another day on the job, or their last day on the job.
Thank you for sharing your loved one with us.
To you I say, keep sharing.

Black officers,
I hate that color is part of the conversation, but it is. If everyone else is talking about it, I guess I should join the discussion. I am from a fairly large, fairly diverse city outside of Atlanta. Yes, I am white, so my thoughts on the matter may not carry much weight, but I will share them nonetheless. I didn't really notice a racial divide until college when I moved from a fairly diverse inclusive city to a less-diverse somewhat divided city. I moved to a city where people noticed and made not-so-discreet faces at the sight of me, a skinny white runner girl walking to class with one of my best friends, a definitely not-so-skinny tall black football player. I saw a divide and it made me sick to my stomach. Athletes at my school seemed to be the only ones that didn't segregate themselves in the cafeteria. The sight of a visibly voluntarily segregated lunchroom baffled me. I thought those days were over in my history textbooks. Silly me. Then my whole worldview was shaken when I started teaching high school in a rural community in the south and the N word was still tossed around like it was nothing. My freshman had no true knowledge of Nazi's, concentration camps, the civil rights movement. When the KKK came up in our studies, a student told me his grandfather was in that club. He had no clue what that meant. In those same classes, I had students that missed 2 weeks of classes because there were literal gang wars going on in their neighborhoods and they were scared to walk out their front door. All of this to say, I once was blind to the racial divide and hate and inequality, but now I see. In high school I saw what it could be and now I see just how bad it is.
And I see just how huge of a task you have ahead of you, and how significant your role is in our culture. Others of your race, and I assume you as well, are beaten and enraged at the injustice and brutality that has been given in far too many cases.  But you standing in the place you are in can be a symbol of strength and commitment to unity. You can speak the message that as a whole, law enforcement officials are there to protect peace and not to persecute and punish.
You are brave not just because you are in your profession, but also that you are in it despite the many that feel doing so is an act of abandonment.
To you I say, stand firm.

Those who feel oppressed,
You are justified in your feelings.  History and current events continue to speak a message of inequality and racism. Terrible crimes have been commited by those whose job it is to prevent crimes. Some men and women in uniform with a badge and a gun have done terrible things and many have gotten away with it and it isn't fair. And the inequalities and injustices don't swing in your favor. But something's got to give. Obviously peaceful protests aren't doing the trick. And I don't know the answer to flip the script. But violence in defense of violence doesn't make sense either. Let's come up with something different. Any ideas?
To you I say, I am sorry for those who look like me who have done terrible things and never made it right. Tell me how I can help.

Dallas Police Department and DASH,
I am in McKinney visiting family this week then watched all this unfold on the local news. My heart is aching for you and I have no words. All I can do is pray for you.  I know you are hurting for all those you have lost. But don't give up the fight.  Fight back for those for gave their all fighting.
To you I say, keep fighting.

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