By Janene Sims, OD, PhD, UAB School of Optometry associate professor

The year 2020 has had many challenges: racial injustice, police brutality, and COVID-19. Late summer gave us a glimmer of hope. Deaths due to the coronavirus are on the decline. Schools and businesses are slowly reopening. The US economy is trying to rebound. Professional sports are back in action. Universities and businesses are having important conversations regarding race and inequities. Just when you think that things are beginning to improve, we have another shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mr. Blake was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. This outraged the citizens of Kenosha, so many took to the streets in protest.

WHEN poem

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We’ve seen this far too many times this year: unarmed shootings, no arrests, protests. This is a vicious cycle that we can’t seem to break. Shockingly, a 17-year-old white male who allegedly killed two people and injured a third was taken into custody without incident in Kenosha. Why are human beings treated so differently?

In a letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”.

WHEN

WHEN I CAN SEE YOU AS MY PEER
WHEN I CAN RECOGNIZE YOUR FEARS
WHEN ISEE NO COLOR IN YOUR TEARS
THEN ALL LIVES TRULY MATTER

WHEN NO MORE INNOCENTS ARE SLAIN
WHEN I CAN EMPATHIZE WITH YOUR PAIN
WHEN WE LEARN TO BREAK THE CHAINS
THEN ALL LIVES TRULY MATTER

WHEN WE BEGIN TO FEEL THE SHAME
WHEN ONLY PEACE AND LOVE REMAIN
THEN WE CAN FINALLY PROCLAIM
THAT ALL LIVES TRULY MATTER

#EYECARE4JUSTICE