How you can help stop the killing and reclaim America

20 Jul How you can help stop the killing and reclaim America

It was clear that the African-American woman behind the counter of Doe’s Pita in North Charleston, South Carolina wanted to engage with the older white customer who stood before her. Just as clearly, she was having a tough time finding a good starting point. Her every attempt at small talk fell flat.

Finally, as she finished making his smoked turkey and cheese pita, she turned toward him and said, “I was just telling my daughter this morning that any day you can get up is a good day.” She spoke as if continuing a conversation that never actually began. “I pray for those police. This killing has to stop.”

The man took a moment to take in what had just been said. “Yes,” he replied, solemnly shaking his head before adding, “and police killing black youth must end, too. We must find a way. This is not our country.”

With the presidential race officially launched against a backdrop of acrimony and violence, the themes exchanged by these two strangers could be a rallying cry.

“The killing must stop.”

“This is not our country.”

One has to wonder from where the spirit of respect that encourages people to work together will come?

Not so long ago the answer would have been obvious: local newspapers.

In communities large and small across this great nation, newspapers were the thread that sewed together the fabric of our communities. Those communities always have been a patchwork, a crazy quilt of differences. Yet even when the nation was torn apart by The Great Depression, war or racial strife — in fact especially during those moments — newspapers provided direction and a voice of reason that soothed frayed nerves and brought people together.

At the dawn of the digital age, the internet was supposed to empower the individual, tearing down the tyranny of gatekeepers in favor of equality. In fact, the internet has worked so well that technology can magnify the importance of even the most deranged and misguided soul among us.

When everyone is the leader, chaos generally ensues. When Tweets and clickbait rule, informed discourse suffers. As uninformed claims and rhetoric get wilder and angrier, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold civilized discussions.

Newspapers are and always were flawed institutions. However, they fund local, national and worldwide journalism. Newspapers give voice to the disenfranchised, desperate and disadvantaged — those who otherwise could not be heard.

A world without journalists is a world devoid of brave souls constantly asking questions on behalf of others who, for many reasons, cannot ask those questions for themselves. These are the questions that separate fact from fantasy, authenticity from audacity and reality from fiction.

At Content That Works we devote every day to helping newspapers and other local media find new ways to fund their journalistic enterprises. We believe authentic journalism brings people together. It is only through accurate reporting and shared experiences that people can find the common ground that will end the killing and reclaim our nation as the world’s beacon of peace, love and harmony for all.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is the world’s most popular South African musical group. In essence this song, Nomathemba, is a story of hope. If South Africa could overcome the huge gulf between haves and have nots, then it should be a chip shot for America.

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