Now that Saint Paul and Falcon Heights are synonymous with an image of a gun trained on a man who is bleeding out, synonymous with one of the worst police shootings in America, and the incredibly strong woman who filmed it all—now that this is who we are, can we, Twin Cities, can we be the city that pulls together and says, “No more”?
Dear city of mine, let us be the ones who do this differently.
Let us be the city where the whole community arrives at the Black Lives Matter protest, where white and black and Asian and American Indian can say alike with pride that “Black Lives Matter Here.”
Let us be the city where the governor comes out of his house, listens to the family. Just listens. And then to the people of Minnesota, he says: “He would be alive if he were white.”
Let us be the city where the officer apologizes, where there is no attempt to smear the character of the man who died, where this officer can say: “I’m sorry. I tweaked. It was wrong, and I can’t take it back.”
Can we be the city that admits, collectively, that we have a problem?
And then, can we be the city where we rise above the vitriol of opposing positions, the city that can say “I am pro-Black Lives, and I am pro-Police.” Can we be the city that says together, “I care and love the police here so much that I will demand that they be of the calmest, and strongest, and best among us.” Can we be the city that says together, “We are all weaker when our Black brothers and sisters are treated as though they don’t matter”?
Let us be the city that says together, “I will interrogate my suspicion of black bodies—I will notice when I am afraid, and I will pledge to be afraid no more.”
Let us be the city that says, “I will notice, and I will interrogate, the schools where white children and black children never take a class together, because of the disparity of wealth between us.”
Let us be the city that says, “There are too many guns here, and everywhere, and we pledge to remove them from our streets—whatever way we can, so that fewer people die.”
Let us be the city that listens, unconditionally, when the Black community says, “Stop killing us.”
Let us be the city that simply does the right thing.
And when the going is too tough, and we want to sink into violent rages of anger, or when we want to despair and go back to living as though it never happened, let us be the city that asks the God we worship to hang onto us.
Let us acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, that our strength comes from the God we know—in whatever faith we practice. Let us rest in our God, knowing that trusting only our selves and our own experience is the sin that got us into this predicament.
Let us know that whatever we must confront as a city, especially as the white people of this city, that we are safe in the incredible and unimaginable power of the One who loves us enough to demand better of us. Let us ask this God to love us into strength we need to take off the blinders we all have been wearing.
Dear Saint Paul,
Let us be the city that does not shy away from this, that cannot ignore it, that cannot sweep it under the rug. Let us be the city that interrogates the status quo, and interrogates the privilege of whiteness, and interrogates the proliferation of firearms that make it so easy to kill each other.
Let us be the city that rises above and says never, never again.