As someone who makes a living dealing with news, I should — at least in theory — have a tougher skin than most when it comes to processing bad news.
It goes with the territory to some extent. But these last several weeks — years, really, if I'm being honest — have been particularly tough to digest.
Orlando. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Dallas. Now, late this week, Nice, France.
None of that even takes into account the shocking brutality on display regulary in war-torn countries. You know, the news reports you don't even bother clicking on anymore.
"4 killed in suicide attack in Saudi Arabia." An actual headline from earlier this month. But, these stories have become so routine they don't move the needle, not even a little bit.
But, the aforementioned domestic incidents have moved the needle. In the wake of these incidents, particularly those in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas, have spurred some momentum that — we can only hope — leads to actual change.
We've been here before, though, haven't we? Somebody shoots up a movie theater or a school or a kid holding a bag of Skittles and a tea gets killed and society is outraged. But then — oh, look over there, something shiny. What were we talking about again?
This time, though, might be different, particulary with the issue of race relations. Even more specifically, the black community's relationship with police.
I'm a white male. Though I grew up in a diverse community, I don't understand the struggle of minorities. I don't know what it's like to feel watched when I'm shopping at a clothing store or to be stopped for seemingly no reason. I can't imagine the feeling of walking into a place filled with people who don't look like me and feeling the room pause.
Given that, I don't know how to fix this. I'm not sure anybody does. But, I've come to a realization over these last few weeks. There is one really powerful thing I can do, and it's something we all can do: Listen.
When a person of color is telling you that they feel uncomfortable, that they feel scared going through everyday activities, we can listen to them. We can believe them.
I've come to realize that I've been guilty of not listening. I've heard what's being said, but it's easy to dismiss. "Well, he's misinterpreting the situation." "Surely there's more to the story." "She must be exaggerating."
I know now that I've said these things to myself to console my own feelings. I don't want to believe that things are that ugly. I don't want to believe that my friends are dealing with these kinds of things. The message, though, has remained the same. We just haven't wanted to hear it.
Collectively, we didn't listen after Trayvon Martin. Or Sandra Bland. Or Eric Garner. We weren't ready to accept the message. We weren't ready to look in the mirror. We weren't really ready for change.
Are we now?
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-219-214-4170.