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I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country.

Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy.

But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people— we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations – resulting in thousands of dollars in fines – before his last, fatal encounter with the police. Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by.

He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record.

Michelle Alexander – I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now.

Last night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals.

It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places.

As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. I am asking myself tonight what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage.

It’s a question that requires some time and reflection.

I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well.

In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all.

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