Marching for hope in our neighborhood

The Kid and I walked our neighborhood this evening, but with a different purpose than usual. Many in our neighborhood gathered at Gesu Catholic Church to March for Hope.

Roughly this time last year, a federal judge who lives a few streets over, was shot on his front porch in a botched robbery attempt. His physical recovery from the single bullet to the knee took the better part of a year and extensive rehabilitation, and his emotional recovery was sped by his church community and immediate neighbors.

I don't know the judge, nor am I a member of his church Gesu Catholic. I'm not much of a protest guy either, I prefer to work behind the scenes. I read about the walk this morning, and almost forgot about it until Gladys started to do some work for a class she's taking. So we bundled up The Kid, and the two of us walked over to the church to support our neighborhood.

When we walked into the church, I was struck immediately with the knowledge that this was not a protest, but a reason for our community to gather together to continue shifting the conversation about our part of Detroit. There were signs in the back that volunteers held saying things like, "We need jobs for our young people" and "Good Neighbors=Safe Neighborhoods."

The walk itself was a chance for neighbors to catch up with neighbors. Detroit Police, Federal Marshals (Judge Berg was able to walk this year), and our neighborhood's volunteer patrol blocked traffic along Livernois so we could safely cross intersections.

While The Kid and I had a pretty constant dialog going during the walk, and I did say hi to the few people I knew, I had a chance to reflect on why it was so important for me to take her with me on the March for Hope.

For starters, it's good for The Kid to understand that sitting at home hoping for better things is enough. Action is required, and a march is a good place to start. It was good for her to see so many people in our community, reflecting the rainbow of race, ethnicity, and age that makes Detroit an intriguing place to live, and to see them all walking as one for a common purpose. Her curiosity about the signs gave us a great reason to talk about why people carried the signs, why people need jobs and what it means to be a good neighbor.

While those are good reasons, it was also a chance for me to start putting action into changing some of the things that frighten me as a parent. I know that statistically, my bright, talented, loving daughter faces:

The work I need to be doing involves more than just being a good role model for my daughter, supporting her academically and emotionally, and giving her creative and age-appropriate outlets for her energy (otherwise known as good parenting). I need to do something to stop that cycle for her sake, and for the sake of other young women like her.

Bringing a light to the problem is one step, although I fear my words will fall victim to the confirmation bias of the people who happen to read this blog. Continuing to educate myself is another step. The third step needs to be in direct action, doing something to help change the fortunes of my fellow Detroiters. I have a few ideas, but I am open to suggestions.

My neighborhood walks are usually good for clearing my mind and refreshing my body. Today's walk was good for giving me energy to start working again to help heal my corner of the world, and reason to hope my efforts will bear fruit.  

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