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A Reflection on Philando Castile's Death: 'We Need to Practice Love in Action'

There aren't really words to describe Philando Castile's death, nor the lack of justice he received this week.

That's all I've been able to think for the last few hours, but frankly it's become a little tiring. I'm tired of not knowing what to say; I'm tired of being out of words. Sometimes, I have a hard time writing here because, frankly, I feel like I've been saying these things and others have been saying these things much better than I have for years—yet Philando Castile's death goes unpunished and children of color live in fear that, even if they do everything right, they will die.

I realize, now, that this is only because words will only take us so far. We have rapidly approached a world where only actions—big actions—will be able to make change. Many of the people in our lives will agree that Philando Castile did not deserve to die. Many of us read the news, shaking our head in bewilderment, wondering how it came to this.

Action is our only response. Action couched in love.

Action pushes us to have the difficult conversations with our communities—especially those of us coming from a place of privilege. Love fortifies us to push through the discomfort, anger, and fear it will raise.

Action drives us to have our students read powerful writing and ask tough questions. Love provides the patience to nurture them through the difficult process of unlearning centuries of hatred. Love lets them ask us tough questions. Love validates them even as they struggle.

Action forces us out of bed when the world is overwhelming and terrifying, because we know that oppression thrives on weighing us down and making us feel helpless. Love reminds us we are not alone in this work, and we can ask for the help or take care of ourselves so, eventually, we get up when we feel like we cannot.

Action is the protest march. Action is the written letter or passionate phone call. Action is the unplanned lesson. Action is the vote to help dismantle these systems.

Love is what reminds us to reach out to each other, holding each other as we walk through fire.

See, some people see love as this soft thing, this weakening force that will detriment our ability to face down hatred.

The anger and pain we howl through right now is valid and right. The anger is necessary to push people. It does not mean it is not love, though. Love doesn't mean giving someone else everything they want (any parent, I'm sure, can tell us that). Love pushes all of us to do better and hold each other and ourselves accountable in that process.

Ultimately, anger is a form of passion. Passion is a form of love.

So, we need to go out there and love hard. We need to practice love in action. We need to get to work.
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