I was a black life, commemorating blue lives.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, marked the beginning of our collective healing. The City of Dallas and the nation came together through an Interfaith Memorial Service to honor the five officers who gave their lives in service to their community. I had the honor of attending the service at the Meyerson Symphony Center, along with the families of the victims; our national, state and local elected officials; and hundreds of the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officers that serve this city every day.
From my seat above the choir, I faced the hundreds of people in the audience – each in their own way mourning the loss of their family members, friends, and coworkers. I saw the immediate reactions of the sea of blue – officers who saw their colleagues murdered in the line of duty. I saw the tears of the families in the front rows – mothers, fathers, wives and children that wept each time their loved one’s name was called in remembrance. From my seat, I faced the five empty chairs ordained for the DPD and DART officers. I heard the voices of the interfaith choir reverberate throughout the auditorium, echoing the sentiments of every soul in the room. I felt the emphasis of the three religious leaders offering consoling and uplifting prayers while our governmental leadership spoke to provide condolences, hope and the desire to ignite change.
For Dallas, this memorial service began a healing process in which our nation mourned with us. The world saw #DallasStrong and learned that our city is resilient. We don’t condone hate and we won’t let tragedy overshadow our brilliance. The aura in the room, however, was one of exhaustion. As President Obama noted, this service was one of many our country had televised and cried for change and hope. America has been here before and things have not changed.
My exhaustion is rooted in being a black life that sheds tears for blue lives, and having some refuse to understand the dichotomy of emotions. I live in this duality of fear of retaliation against our public servants. My lived experience tells me that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and my love for this city tells me ‘Blue Lives Matter.’
On Tuesday, President Obama and our leaders sought to acknowledge this exhaustion by honoring the police officers, while also addressing the frustrations of the community-specifically, the black community, whose young men and women are lost at the hands of public servants far too often. Unfortunately, this is today’s America that we must acknowledge and work even harder to improve.
I know many of you are like me, searching for a solution to address these issues. Yet, we must first ask ourselves, what is the fundamental issue: racism, systematic poverty, inadequate education, gun law reform, economic inequalities? We all have our different opinions of these ongoing problems, but I tend to agree with President Obama’s sentiment: “In the end, it’s not about finding policies that work. It’s about forging consensus and fighting cynicism and finding the will to make change.”
Key leaders in our community and of this nation have offered their sentiments and their solutions, but what are leaders of the Dallas business community doing to fight cynicism and make change? I will not try to provide blanket answers, but rather I want to pose some questions for thought on our opportunity for leadership:
- What does it look like for you to be a leader in the midst of tragedy?
- Have you considered the emotional distress of black co-workers and police officers from seeing the execution of police officers and black lives?
- Are you willing to have tough, uncomfortable conversations with someone unlike you toat leasthear and acknowledge their experience even if you don’t agree?
- What are you doing to make #DallasStrongfor both black and blue lives?
We all have the opportunity to start meaningful conversations and action in our offices, in our communities and around this city. When we dismiss the dichotomy of emotions and disregard the common fear, it is detrimental, affecting all of us from our personal perseverance to our city’s long-term economic growth. The moments that we do not acknowledge our common fear are the moments we miss building relationships and partnerships not only between black and white populations, but with the growing Hispanic population in Dallas. The times we move beyond our cynicism creates the opportunities to mentor or hire diverse employees with creative perspectives that can reinvigorate neighborhoods.
This call for unity is a call for uncomfortable conversations that take us where we are afraid to go. These types of conversations break through barriers and build relationships, relationships that are both for both personal and business growth that impact the heart and Dallas’ economic well-being.
Maggie Parker is the Loan Officer with The Real Estate Council Community Fund. TREC Community Fund provides access to capital for commercial real estate projects in low-income neighborhoods across Dallas and Collin Counties. Maggie is a native of Dallas, TX.