This article appeared in the May 20, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Compassion and social justice, rink-side

Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress/AP
This 1860-75 photo made available by the Library of Congress shows Harriet Tubman.
Ali Martin
California Bureau Writer

I have a tween who thinks deeply about justice and compassion, and the world’s uneven distribution of both.

She’s also an ice skater. 

When her skating coach filled me in recently on the costume we needed to buy for her spring performance, my heart stopped. My daughter would be skating to a rousing song from the film “Harriet,” which tells the story of Harriet Tubman’s heroic work to free enslaved people through the Underground Railroad. She would be skating as Harriet Tubman, that is.

We are not Black. 

I gently but immediately ixnayed the idea. Instead of skating as Tubman, my daughter skated in tribute to her. But for a moment, I panicked. She finds solace and encouragement in stories about oppressed people not only surviving but also changing the world. I didn’t want to quash her interest in social justice or the inspiration she takes from lessons about civil rights. 

Lessons that society is still learning, as we see in today’s Monitor. Patrik Jonsson and Noah Robertson examine the fear behind “replacement theory,” which evidently fueled last weekend’s racism-driven shooting in Buffalo, New York.  

And Ken Makin shows us how that community is coming together to fill a void left by the shuttered grocery store where the shooting happened – coming together to feed and mend shattered hearts. 

The stakes in those stories are certainly higher than a 12-year-old’s ice skating performance. But they’re all connected by a need to counter fear with understanding, to value the differentness that makes humanity beautiful, and to take a leap toward hope.

This article appeared in the May 20, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/20 edition
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