Philando Castile was the supervisor at our school's cafeteria, one of two black men who provided a constant, gentle presence in our kid's lives. 503 kids, about 30 of them African-American with another 7% Somali and others who are Oromo and Ethiopian--so, say, 40% of our kids are black.
The other person is--well, I'll call him Josiah. He works with our special needs kids and is the only person I thought to ask to babysit for my special needs child one summer--instead, Josiah volunteered to work--for free--with a child who was profoundly struggling in school, with a single mother who had no funds at all, either for child care or support services for her little boy. Josiah chose, that summer, to work two jobs, one non-paying, because the kid needed him and responded well to Josiah's quiet persistance. Because that's the kind of man Josiah is. A man like Philando was--a man who cared deeply about children and made them his life's work. The kind of man all children need to be around.
Yesterday, my little one asked about Josiah. "I haven't seen him. We've seen Vanessa," Phil's coworker in the cafeteria. We've seen Phil's mother and his uncle, but we haven't seen Josiah. "And he could be killed, like Mr. Phil," said my little one.
My little one says things and the wave hits me. I'm so grateful that I have the time and the luxury and the experiences of being around people of different races--being family to people of different races--being comfortable talking and listening about not just race and bigotry but also that I can listen to my child's emotion.
We have to make certain that the children at our school--the children of our country--get the same kind of listening and talking. Our future stands in the balance and the time for changing our world, for healing our world, is now.