Where Do We Go From Here?

11:50 AM

Photo by: Unapologetically Pam, taken by Gavin McCollum
In my ten years working in education, I have had very few students die. Of those few, most were from natural causes. One was from suicide, which really hurt. But those wounds were few and far between. I was able to mourn them for as long as I needed to, and thereafter rejoice in the memory and legacy of those students as my heart healed.

I have been in my new job for just one week. And in that time, two young people affiliated with my organization have been shot and killed. Another was killed three weeks ago, prior to my start, but my colleagues have told me that he was a bright young man with immense potential.

Three within three weeks vs. maybe three within ten years. I'm letting that sink in.

You see, I know all of the statistics about Chicago neighborhoods. I am well aware of the stigmas attached to communities of color in particular. I knew that choosing to work with students of color from these low-income communities would not be without challenges. But I was not entirely ready to experience the fullness of pain. I have watched colleagues,  who knew these young people intimately, mourn. I have seen heartbreak. I am wrestling with my own despair.

Where do we go from here?

We must allow ourselves the fullness of grief, the fullness of mourning. Even the fullness of shock, numbness, and aching. We must allow ourselves to feel, so that we might empathize with our communities and with our families who are losing young people. We must allow ourselves to feel, because only then will we loudly proclaim that BLACK LIVES MATTER, because it is our conviction. It is our hope. It is integral to our redemption.

I want to be clear that I refuse to let this story be yet another piece that feeds into fear-based, ignorant rhetoric about communities of color in Chicago. I have seen far more resilience and hope than I have seen pain and despair. Yet, I must live within these two realities: that both pain and hope exist within the communities that I serve. That both fear and resilience co-exist in these spaces. And I must learn to live within these spaces as well.

Where do we go from here?

We go forth with the knowledge that only Love can drown out darkness. 

Love on your babies and your families. Love your neighbors as you love yourself. Love those who are different from you. Love hard and Love often. It is the only way that we will drive out fear.

Pam ♥

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