Baton Rouge, How Is It With Your Soul?
Together Baton Rouge, the multi-faith community group started over 6 years ago, met Tuesday to begin the work of healing the racial divide which has been torn open again by the shooting death of Alton Sterling one week before.
“Each one of us has had a different experience of this last week,” University Presbyterian Church pastor Patty Snyder told the gathering of more than 300 participants.
She then requested them to gather in small groups and ask each other one simple question:
“How is it with your soul?”
And African-American senior citizen said he is, “Just saddened right now. I just never thought that would happen in our city.”
His wife added, “And I think it’s very sad that it took lives to bring us all together.”
A white, well-to-do woman in her mid-40s said she, too was deeply saddened by the events, “That this is what had to happen for everybody to kind of wake up.”
A professor from LSU, which is located south of the city’s racial dividing line, said, “I’m disheartened that my little corner at LSU is completely unaffected by all of this. I want to find a way to get white and affluent and other sorts of people caring. And it’s hard.”
An African-American gentleman explained the Alton Sterling shooting points out something that has become a way of life for those who live north of the line.
“We have to teach our children ‘don’t say anything, hold your hands in the air’ like you’re still in slavery, because you don’t have the rights that everyone else has,” he said. “We’re afraid for our children to go places because the police kill us and nothing is ever done about it. And that’s the whole hurt – nothing is ever done.”
Once all had spoken, sharing their individual concerns, again the question was asked: “How is it with your soul?”
And the answer given?
“Within our soul, we range from deep grief to optimism. And the optimism comes from gatherings such as this.”