Letter: If you’re not part of the solution …

This week, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile became the latest additions to the long list of people of color killed by police in the United States. From our vantage point here in Aspen, the brutality we are and have long been witnessing can feel far away and the need for protest, reform and justice somehow less urgent.

The physical distance that shields us from racial violence, however, does not make our country’s struggle for racial justice any less pressing. Recently, we have seen disturbingly familiar scenes repeat themselves across the nation. In Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death by police for playing with a toy gun. In Staten Island, New York, police choked Eric Garner to death when they suspected he was selling cigarettes illegally. In Baltimore, Freddie Gray was killed by injuries suffered in police custody.

“We must take sides,” the late Elie Wiesel once said. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” Across the country, Americans impacted by racial violence and police brutality are rising up in protest, and we must stand with them. Our isolation from the violence cutting down our fellow Americans is no excuse to remain silent or retreat into apathy. In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. remarked that the time for small changes and minor reforms was over. We need “a revolution of values,” he said. No matter who we are or where we come from, we need to recognize that something is terribly wrong. Most importantly, we need to do everything we can to align ourselves with the fight for justice going on in this country.

Jake Sonnenberg