Like many of you, I was depleted by news of multiple police-involved shootings during the week of July 4. On July 5, Alton Sterling was shot in Baton Rouge, La., and by July 6, social media was ablaze with his name. I Googled him to find out what was happening, already knowing that this hashtag was to commemorate a man who was killed by police officers.
The video I was met with will be forever burned in my memory and has since haunted me. It was of Sterling being forcefully restrained by police officers, and before I could even close out the visual, he was shot many times and the person recording the video shockingly confirmed that the police had shot him.
With my hand over my mouth, I cried like a baby, like I was his baby. I didn't know Sterling, but he belonged to me. He was another black life slain by law enforcement in an incident that shouldn't have escalated to that deadly end. I can't speak for everyone when I say that I am tired—exhausted, even. Every day, there seems to be a new hashtag, and every headline is a gruesome display of the kind of violence inflicted on black people that's clearly plaguing America.
The first thing I said to my editor, The Root Managing Editor Danielle Belton, was, "I don't know what to tell people anymore." Tearfully, I tried to come up with something creative, something comforting, just something to give back to our readers that would support their pain. The only thing I could think to offer was a place to vent. I wanted our readers to see #WeWontBeSilent and know that it is OK to scream, curse, type in all caps—whatever they needed to help release the pressure of sadness and fear that loomed over all of us.
What started as a venting session has morphed into a movement that is helping people not only release their emotions but also organize and figure out actions that will help create the change we need in America. We have since written a letter to our readers, a letter that offers suggestions for the Department of Justice and hopefully some encouragement. We will continue this movement through various media, and our hope is that we create change in our world. Join us on this mission with #WeWontBeSilent.
Here are a few of the supportive tweets: