Responding To Unrest With Unity

Co-authored by Darrius Shaw

The events of this past week have shaken me, our communities and our country at our core as we reconcile the horror and divisiveness of these actions with our belief in America as a nation of tolerance and inclusion. A nation of citizens that are supportive of each other no matter their ethnicity, gender, perspective, religion, sexual orientation and all the other ways in which we may differ.

Over the weekend as I watched the unfolding accounts on television and read nonstop the social media feeds, a name I knew caught my attention: Darrius Shaw, a graduate of NYU and a Boys & Girls Club of America's Southwest Youth of the Year. I met Darrius when Tupperware Brands was the national sponsor of the B&GCA Youth of the Year program, and have followed him throughout his college career and now into his professional career. He is brilliant, thoughtful, sincere and fiercely loyal. His Facebook post was his very personal viewpoint of the tragedies that took place in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and, ultimately, Dallas -- Darrius is a Dallas native, who has dedicated much of his life to community service. His post shares his close connection to the violence in Dallas, where his sister is a police officer, and calls for understanding, accountability and greater unity because "humanity is not mutually exclusive." His thoughts come straight from his heart -- they are clear and resounding ... and, I believe they need to be heard.

"Last night, I was texting my sister just to catch up on the happenings in each other's lives (admittedly, I don't do this enough), until she abruptly didn't reply. I didn't think much of it, I know she's a busy woman: she's a Dallas police officer. What would happen over the course of the next 8 hours would leave me confused, hurt, distraught, angry, and then completely, devastatingly numb. My phone buzzed and instead of a text from my sister, I received a news alert that there was an active shooter in Dallas and I was overcome with what can only be explained as a combination of anxiety to protect my loved ones and gripping reality that there was not a god damn thing I could do. As the hours passed, more reports came in: Shooter, then Sniper, then wounded officers, then dead officers. 5. It was only until the wee hours of this morning that my sister texted me back to tell me she had finally made it home safely but could only describe what she witnessed as "surreal" and "stomach-turning."

In the days prior, I wrote scathingly, and rightfully so, about the deaths of two men at the hands of police officers. Alton Sterling, who was shot 6 times will be subdued by two police officers for "resisting arrest" and Philando Castile, the cafeteria manager at the local elementary school who was shot 4 times in his car with his 4 year old child in the backseat and girlfriend helpless to protect him for the heinous crime of reaching for his identification during a routine traffic stop.

These names were added to an ever-growing list of people of color who have been turned to hashtags because of instances of police brutality. In speaking with my sister about the shootings in Dallas and parrying the stupidity of people who felt the death of these two men were somehow justifiable, I found myself here to reflect on my reality: a brotha fearful of becoming just another hashtag, trying to make it home and a brother of a police officer fearful that I will get a call that my sister won't make it home.

I urge you all to understand what Black Lives Matter is about. It blows my mind that no matter how many accurate analogies there are to describe the movement, people still paint it as something it's not. It's not and has never been about black lives mattering more than others or some absurd declaration of war against the police. It's acknowledging the fact that people of color, people like me, are fearful of one day having a routine traffic stop end in our death and there will be no justice for it. This is not an indictment of all police officers. A vast majority of police officers are like my sister: good people who just want to make a difference and make it home at the end of the day. However, the reality is there are some officers who extend past their duty into moral depravity, succumbing to the myth of an inherent black threat and using it to justify our murder. Just as we condemn negligent teachers without labeling all teachers as bad, just as we condemn clergyman who molest children without labeling the entire church as evil, just as we condemn murderers, rapists, and racists without damning humanity as a whole, we can stand up and say cops who kill innocent people need to face justice without saying all cops are bad. We can say that murdering police officers as retribution for atrocities they didn't commit is deplorable and disgusting. We can both believe Black Lives Matter while we Back the Blue. These are not mutually exclusive. Love is not mutually exclusive. Humanity is not mutually exclusive.

Dallas is my city. It will forever be home. It is who I am. Today my heart is broken for my city, for my family, for my people, for those officers who died senselessly, for every person murdered by those who swore to protect them without justice. This country as a whole is broken and drawing lines in the sand will not mend it. For our people, for our families, for the sake of our humanity, we must to unite to defend it. For the families of black men who never made it home after being stopped by an officer who thought they were a threat, for the families of officers who stay up at night worried that their loved ones won't make it back from patrol, this violence and the death we have to end it.

Stay blessed. I love you Asia Shaw."

And, bless you, too, Darrius...