Stand Up and Listen

Dr. Adanna Jinaki Johnson-Evans, associate professor and her husband, musician Marc Avon Evans, serving members of the Baltimore community during peaceful protests on Monday afternoon.

Contrary to what a large number of people are saying about the peaceful protests and the riots in Baltimore, there is not merely one approach to accomplish change, but many. The ability and willingness of our leaders and our peers to truly listen will, in the long run, dictate which approach will work. 

When communities are hurting, we need to listen. People just want to be heard. Nobody likes to see unrest- I can hardly bring myself to watch the coverage, but who am I to judge when I know wholeheartedly that this is only a symptom of a much bigger problem? Instead of being a sit down and shut up kind of society, why not call for people to stand up and listen? Stand up and empathize. Stand up and change.

Let’s not run from or silence the chaos. Let’s not sit back, wag our fingers, and affix demeaning labels. That’s an easy and predictable reaction. Instead, it’s time to start listening. Because if the desperate cries to be heard keep falling on deaf ears and nothing changes, the outcries, as unsettling as they seem, will only escalate until something changes. The cycle of human nature and our world’s history itself tells us that. 

I love the way Dr. King said it: 

“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard”. ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Pamela Antoinette

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