"Tensions over race and policing in Chicago and Cleveland come amid intense scrutiny of police killings in the United States over the past 18 months, especially of black men. Protests have taken place around the country and the issue has fueled a civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.
Cleveland police will review the fatal shooting of Rice from start to finish to determine if the two officers involved or others should face disciplinary action, officials said on Tuesday.
Protests over the shooting of Laquan McDonald led to the resignation of Chicago's police chief and a Justice Department probe into whether the city's police use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.
Meanwhile, protesters demonstrated outside the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office in Cleveland, a day after a grand jury decided not to charge two white police officers in the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year-old boy who was playing in a park with a replica gun that shoots plastic pellets."
By Mary Wisniewski and Renita D. Young
What needs to happen on the ground for hearts and minds to be calm again? What social responsibility does America have to itself in going out of its way to ensure that all Americans are treated equally? Do we need to recreate the wheel here with a brand new set of answers or can we look around to see how others are overcoming similar, yet different circumstances.
This is an issue of greater significance than ineffective police training and it touches on a deeper issue of ingrained bias, racial division and lack of fair opportunity in America. As an example, we can take a look at the recent success of a non-governmental organization that hosts a school called Skateistan located in nowhere else but Afghanistan! A skateboarding school with super ramps, head to toe safety gear, skateboards for all and students galore.
You may ask how this is related to the police shootings. What on earth does an Afghani skateboarding school with safety gear and awesome enrollment have to do with police training negligence?
This dichotomy can be turned upside down by strengthening communities from the ground up.In concrete terms, this could mean greatly developing impoverished community centers in American towns starting with the hotspots where it is most needed.Sometimes these centers represent the only place to go to for after school programs or on the weekends for many kids with working parents. Community centers can be continuously planting the seeds to encourage kids to grow up and be self-made woman and men who are social entrepreneurs. These are change agents of good. We can have scientific social entrepreneurs, artpreneurs, edupreneurs, mathpreneurs! We should have vocational schools. We should have great skateparks everywhere where the youth can congregate. They bring all sorts of people together from different socio-economic backgrounds, nationalities, languages and walks of life under the context of using the growth mindset to improve and have fun skateboarding.
What am I saying here? I am focusing on solutions to not just address the immediate rightful outcry from the community, but one small way to positively change culture from the ground up using innovative, yet simple solutions. This does not negate the pain a mother feels for the loss of her twelve year old son. This does not diminish the gravity of the situation. A child was gunned down. How many bullets was it? When we are ready to move forward it means we shave shifted from finding problems for solutions to identifying solutions to the problems.
The intensity of how we approach and value the need to change for each other from the inside out details the end quality result of our work. That is to say, the intent in our conviction to see about a particular end result will directly impact the process. If our heart is in it, then the end result will be closet to success than if our heart was not for it. Changing for each other in positive ways leads to constant ripples that can transform a town or city almost over night in this way.`
Black lives matter. All lives matter. The strong emotions felt by a great many in the black communities of America can't be all wrong. How can we make it better for them (us) and have fun doing it? You can start in your own neighborhood. How can positive disruption take place in our hearts and in our neighborhoods? Does this create adventure in our life? Do we create adventure by filling our daily lives by taking action towards a greater purpose?
Maya Angelou, one of my favorite poets, spoke of hope like it was a mind and heart set she was anchored to. It was a declaration of her position. She had hope in a dream common to many of us. A dream that began with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This dream is more and more becoming a reality across the land. It is a new day where we go beyond the old fights and get on with the getting on of living life. To do so… we must work at the process of all rising together by being a positive change agent in our communities.
This is not just an issue of black people getting shot at more than other people, or one of police negligence, this is an issue that puts a spotlight on the health of our community quilt. Parts of it are strong and parts in tatters, parts of it where never threaded properly. It is in those parts that change agents are needed the most. But who can quit their day job and foment this? Hmmm…
The force of it is much stronger than the force of apathy and indifference. Let's not just watch television and see America unfold and become undone. Let's use our common sense, band together and make it better here and there. Our collective actions can bring serenity to our shores and change the situation on the ground much more so than standing by and letting ‘others’ take care of strengthening our community and culture. Each of our voices are unique and each one is needed to make the quilt better.