After #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, #DallasPoliceShooting, we asked Under Our Skin readers and participants to submit their reflections on race, policing and equality. Here’s what we heard from you.

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After the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and a deadly attack on Dallas police, we asked viewers of our Under Our Skin video project to submit their reflections on race, policing and equality. We also had the chance to engage with readers in person at BAAMFest, the Rainier Beach Music and Arts Festival  this past Saturday that celebrated the multicultural South Seattle neighborhood. Here’s what we heard from you:

BAAMFest

At BAAMFest, the Under Our Skin team set up an interactive booth in which people could walk up to a computer, choose a phrase such as “All lives matter” or “white privilege” and watch a video about it.  (Full project can be found here.)  We chatted with them about what they thought about the videos they viewed, and asked them to write down their thoughts.  Flip through the gallery to see a selection. 

We also asked Under Our Skin participants to send us their reflections on the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five police officers in Dallas. Watch and listen to their voices here:

Under Our Skin participants Greg Rickel and Darrell Hillaire reflect on the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the Dallas police shootings.

 

Facebook responses

 

We posed this question to our readers in the comments on several of our Facebook posts: What questions should we be asking ourselves after #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile, #DallasPoliceShootings? These questions continue to come up with similar events occurring. Here’s some of what readers said:

 

How do we live all lives mattering really? How do we make real changes within society to embrace the value of all people as people. How do we destroy apathy when the persons harmed are not like us? How did we get to the point people shoot people who they do not know who did nothing to them?

–Desiree Stephanie Kramer

 

What are the many factors that lead to these moments and how can they be undone/changed?

–Erin M. Schadt

 

How do we get racists out of the justice system? How do we get people to turn them in instead of looking the other way?

–Marilyn Washabaugh

 

Why is our police force designed just like our military? Do we really want military mentality running our police force?

–Gene Garno

 

To begin with, I think we should all be asking how we can set up a format/venue specifically dedicated to discussing and coming up with ways to combat prejudice.

–Jonathan Hager

 

What are we so afraid of? And how long can we pretend that this is ‘someone else’s problem’?

–Jerald Armstrong

 

The Seattle Times ought to ask itself this: if white people are saying “we didn’t know this was really happening”, and The Times is Puget Sound’s news purveyor of record, why didn’t these people know? Why weren’t you telling them? The information was available. The numbers haven’t changed. Where have you been?

–Lola E. Peters

 

A reader also touched upon pinpointing problems that need to be solved:

 

I wish we lived in a time where either phrases were not required and frankly, I could care less about the labels….let’s stop arguing about a label and let’s start fixing the problems that created this label.

–Margaret Thomas

 

Other thoughts

 

Many of you also reached out to us via email.

 

I hear and read a lot about trying to become unprejudiced and non-racist. I feel this is impossible, we are all prejudiced, both for and against different things. Prejudice in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. But we need to develop self awareness so we can identify our prejudices, and not let them dictate our actions.  Eliminating prejudice is impossible, developing self awareness is eminently possible.

–Bill Crisman

 

I am an 86-year-old  white woman. More than ever before, I am convinced that every one of us has to be awake for any chance we get to reach out a hand of friendship and love to our fellow human beings.

One day in Bellevue I had bought something in a convenience store and, on leaving, I reached the door just as a black man was going to enter. Automatically, I opened the door for him. “That’s a first!” he exclaimed with a tease in his voice. “Well then, it’s about time!” I countered. And we burst out laughing. Let’s put love and friendship first — and laugh together.

Surely it is not being politically biased to wish that firearms be controlled in a wise and effective way. Surely it is not an exaggeration to pray that everyone, young black men, police officers, everyone, can live out their lives to as many years as they are meant to live. Drops of good will can become a great ocean for an amazing country that was meant to be a place of equality, justice and liberty for all.

–Ruth Kverndal

 

I’m a 78-year-old white woman who grew up during segregation in a small North Carolina town, so am well aware of the injustices that have been done to the black community for way too long.  Between 1959 and 1968 I lived in Eastern Virginia, and from 1968 to 2011 in southwestern Virginia.  After my children finished school I got involved in several groups there that worked in race relations, sponsored by the YWCA, by churches or the Boys and Girls Clubs…

Being a volunteer at The Village of Hope (a South Seattle nonprofit)  and Clallum Bay Correctional Center has been an education for me,  opening my eyes to way more than I knew about the injustices perpetrated on black people by the white communities where they live.  

Now I read news stories with “new” eyes.  I want people to realize that the shooter in Dallas doesn’t represent all black people.  And neither do the policemen who shot the two men last week represent all policemen.  

–Anne Corley

 

We love hearing from you and we are thankful that the Under Our Skin project has become a spark to talk about these issues. One of our goals is to engage with you online or in person, and we welcome continuing this conversation. Contact us at underourskin@seattletimes.com.