Disclaimer: I'm a white female from Missouri who grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City. I was raised and am currently middle class. My adopted daughter is biracial. And the only time I can remember feeling inequality personally is when my brother could drive to the Royals stadium in high school but I couldn't because I was "a girl." Many of my family members are Mizzou alumni. If I could add one person to Mount Rushmore, it would be Martin Luther King, Jr. I choose him because of his approach to healing the racial divide in this country as well as his faith, a faith I also share. This is where my perspective comes from.
Another news story from my beloved Show Me State has my stomach in knots yet again.
Last week our headlines were full of love. Watching 800,000 Royals fans stand shoulder-to-shoulder -- not letting race, class or gender stand in the way of a high five or group selfie -- was beautiful.
This week, our headlines have changed. It's like we woke up and remembered that we're all different, and that our differences have led to organizational and systematic issues.
Some say it's about time this pain is felt by all. Some are hardened to the news. Others watch in disbelief that these stories are true and that they're happening today. Admittedly, this is one of the first eras I've personally watched race tensions vividly bleed all over my screen.
It's hard. It's painful. To say it's complex is an understatement. But we need to keep talking about them.
"Them" as in the issues. Not the people.
I'm burdened by some of the articles, blogs, tweets and public comments I'm reading covering the events happening at Mizzou. I'm glad opinions are getting out there, and conversations are starting. But the verbiage talking about "us" versus "them" is what is burdensome.
If we're going to see any kind of change happen, we've got to start addressing this as "we."
We, as a people, created these tensions.
We, as a people, still struggle with remembering that all men and women are created equal regardless of skin color.
We, as a people, forget our history because either we don't know it, we've forgotten it, or we don't value it.
We, as a people, need to look at ourselves and our hearts. Why is there so much animosity toward others who are different? What negative or poisonous mindsets do we carry that we're unaware of until a news story makes us do a gut check?
We, as a people, have work to do.
I appreciate the dialogue around race tensions right now because it's making us talk about the issues. Most people speaking out (in respectful ways that is) have valid points at least somewhere in their statements. And they're absolutely right.
Systems need to change.
Long-term plans need thought out.
Policies need written or re-written.
Stories need heard and communities need to work together.
But more than that, from what I see, hearts need to change. And that, my friends, is nothing "they" are going to do. It's going to take each of us.