Michael Brown lost his life one year ago and we will never be the same. In fact, I know that we will be better. But when I think about the last year, I am filled with many competing emotions.
A year later, I’m still so sad. My heart aches for the family of Mike Brown. It aches for the families of Tamir Rice and Rekia Boyd. It aches for every mother, father, sister, brother, and friend who lost a loved one to violence.
A year later, I am grateful, oh so grateful for the vibrant leaders who have changed the public narrative about the systemic racism that warps our criminal justice system and discounts black lives. And also to black thought leaders, who have doggedly reported the stories that weren’t being told.
A year later, I am at times frustrated. I’m frustrated that we are continuing to lose lives in every part of the country. I’m frustrated that even within a movement founded by three black women, they have had to reiterate that yes, they mean all black lives. I’m frustrated that a campaign to #SayHerName has been critical to ensure that women like Sandra Bland are not forgotten. That black women’s lives, too, are not discounted; that their stories are equally told.
A year later, I am also hopeful. There is new energy in the work for race and gender justice and all of us are better for it. And there are concrete wins – the Department of Justice is investigating several police shootings, there are policy changes in several local jurisdictions that will lead to more accountability, and the media is now tracking police shootings that in past years would get little attention.
But mostly, a year later, I am hopeful that this vibrant movement will bring lasting change.