Just One Way Forward

History and experience tell us that it should be expected our community would experience another tragedy involving a person of color and law enforcement. Yet, predictability does not ease the pain of those who are involved or the terrible consequences they grapple with. It doesn’t lessen the sense of anxiety hovering over our community.

Predictability does little to provide hope or to fuel activism.

Two years ago we were in a similar space, asking the people and systems that are charged to protect to do more to respect – to honor each person’s human dignity. Still, we find ourselves here – again.

The shooting of Mr. Lyoya is a fateful reminder of where we as a community have fallen short; where we as individuals, have failed one another. Not enough has changed. In too many places and too many hearts, the work hasn’t even begun. These are things we have said before.

The YWCA’s mission calls us to work for peace, justice and freedom; to lift up the dignity of each person and all people.

So, we find ourselves sobered by these events, but not deterred.

The fact remains that as long as we minimize or ignore the importance of achieving equity, Mr. Lyoya’s death will not be the last. Racism, poverty, and sexism are mechanisms used to isolate and divide. In those environments it is easy to misunderstand, distrust, fear, and even hate one another. Until we make meaningful progress toward achieving equity throughout our community, the lines that divide us will continue to become battle lines.

There is just one way forward following these horrible, heart-rending moments.

Where there is division, we are each responsible for bridging those divides. We must fight the tendency to make de facto segregated neighborhoods, churches, and schools part of our daily lives. We must press our leaders in workplaces, education, and faith communities to use their authority and influence to ensure equity in those spaces. We must choose elected representatives who prioritize policies that achieve equity, and we must hold them accountable when they don’t. We must remember one another’s humanity. We must each engage and learn.

And when circumstances leave us at a loss for what to do, we must each find a way to contribute positively anyway.

Where racism and sexism give rise to domestic and sexual violence, the YWCA West Central Michgian transforms lives with expert services for victims, education to end those things that fuel abuse, and public policy that translates our mission into law.