As a kid I grew up in a single-parent family. My mom, after her divorce, went back to school to receive her general education development (GED) diploma.
That saying, “It takes a village,” was never truer than in my childhood days in Barstow, California. My sister was left with the task of having two rambunctious boys under her keep while mom was away, and if things got out of control she could yell out of the back door to our pastor, who lived across the fence. It was his idea for Mom to go back and finish school. He saw something in her that needed to be nurtured.
Not only were my brother and I under the watchful eye of my teenage sister, I had the opportunity to be mentored by the boys in blue. This is a reference to a local “Big Brother” after-school program afforded to me as a kid. It was a one-to-one mentoring program that connects youth with police in disadvantaged communities, with the purpose of building strong, trusting, lasting relationships. These relationships can help children develop into confident adults and help build stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve.
This was my first encounter with a cop. Fast forward to today — a contrast from then and now — to my grandson, who is seeing police being viewed in a much different light. In just 50 short years things have eroded to the point almost it seems of no return. I was saddened by the news of George Floyd, yet another unarmed black man killed at the hands of armed cops. It’s happening so much. I was shocked, but not surprised by it. It was caught on video, and seemingly with no repercussions. However, the mobilization of people of all colors, reminded me of a song I used to sing in Sunday school as a kid, “Jesus loves the little children all the children of the world, red, and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus love the little children of the world.”
A few years ago, I stood in the same pulpit at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, where Dr. King in 1968 delivered his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to understand that your time here on earth is at hand. I imagine today what to say to this new generation of protesters, standing in solidarity with their brothers and sisters across America, and what to do for my grandson to help create an environment to nurture his potential.
Let’s seize the moment Idaho Falls. It takes a village.
Let’s rally behind our committed community leaders. Together we can change and root out, and find solutions for those policies and practices that don’t work for all members of our community.
It takes teamwork to make the dream work.
David Snell is a member of the Idaho Falls African American Alliance.