I’m supposed to write at least four hundred words about my study abroad experience, but how can I when I am mourning the state of my own country? How do I casually write about the good experiences I’ve had here in London when my heart is back home? How do I cope with the helplessness from afar? How do I do more than make facebook posts, all of which of meaningless until I act on them? It seems that since I’ve come to London, something has happened back home to pull my heart in their direction.
First, a family tragedy happened. I left home in a state of flux. The feelings of helplessness and fear of abandoning my family crept up on me. How can I truly enjoy myself in London when my family is hurting back home? What am I doing here? I just wanted to go home. This trip did not seem worth it anymore. If it were not for my mother, who started the trip with me, I might not have gotten on that plane. I kept in touch with my family, and hoped I could be of some use, and as I watched them slowly start to recover (and still are) I felt less guilty.
Then Orlando happened. Since I have already written about it, I won’t reiterate too much. I felt the same feelings all over again: helplessness, guilt, fear, and sadness. At least in London, I could act. I could stand in solidarity in with others mourning the forty-nine deaths here in London. It was a tragedy grieved all over the world.
Now, there are the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile both within forty-eight hours of one another and both captured live on camera phone. There was the shooting in Dallas. What is happening to my home? While this violence is not new, it seems even more heartbreaking since I am so far from home. What’s worse is how do I act? I read about maybe one small protest in Westminster here in London in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and I was in Bath when it happened. These tragedies seem unique to the United States, but maybe I’m wrong. It does not seem like London has much need for a Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, I even read some Londoners response on social to such violence by inviting African Americans to move to England where cops do not have guns and there seemingly is not disproportionate targeting and incarceration of black and brown communities here.
Black Lives Matter is a peaceful movement that protests against the injustices faced by primarily African American men who are disproportionately targeted, face police brutality, and are incarcerated. They are not saying all white people are racists. They are not saying only white people are racists. They are not saying all cops are bad. They are saying the system is broken, and it is prejudiced. Violence only perpetuates the system. I support Black Lives Matter, and I am in mourning with them right now. I support our police officers who took the oath to serve and protect everyone. I support the majority of officers who do not abuse their power and will not let corruption of the few bad cops to prevail. Most importantly, I am against violence and broken system.
There have been terrorist attacks. There was the murder of MP Jo Cox. There has been retaliation for the murders of Philando and Alton, which has done more damage than good. There will continue to be peaceful protests. There will probably always be violence. How do I deal with it? How do I deal with it when I’m so far away? How do I deal with it when I’m at home? How do I deal with all the violence when I really just want to scream, “Stop killing people!”?
So far, my only answer has been to raise awareness and write these words.
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<p>My name is Analise Ober, and I am a junior at University of Puget Sound studying Sociology and English. I am from Minnesota and enjoy hockey, being on the lake, and (of course!) writing. This is my first trip to London, and I hope to experience a lot here and can’t wait to share it with you. </p>