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Blog: THE Point

By Grant Oliphant


More shootings of black men at the hands of police, this time in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis. Words rarely fail me, but they have failed me today. There is so much to be said, but every time I try to speak about it, to draw a coherent thought from the jumbled welter of my feelings, all that emerges is a plea: “Enough. Stop it. No more.”

But I am not entitled to my silence. None of us are, not now, not in the face of this.

In my view of the field and institution I am privileged to serve, we have a special responsibility in our work and in our roles sometimes simply to bear witness. In our society there are so many marginalized, forgotten, neglected people, and we seem to be minting more every day. There are so many people our society chooses to oppress or aggress or simply ignore, and we make it tolerable for ourselves by turning those whose pain we’d prefer not to see into someone “other,” something “other.”

Here in Pittsburgh efforts by our police chief to adopt community policing techniques and train officers in implicit bias have been ridiculed by some as “hug a thug.” Think about the words. Please, just think about the words. In one terse little phrase they criminalize anyone the police encounter and make them less than the rest of us, less than human, an enemy deserving of whatever happens to them.

There is a cancer eating our country from the inside out, and it is precisely this: this dehumanizing of the “other,” this violent hatred for what is different. This willful decision not to care. It rips at our hearts and turns us against each other. It makes the unthinkable normal, the unacceptable routine.

To quiet our conscience, we make monsters of people who are in their souls no different than us, and the price we pay is to become the monsters we most fear.

Why do we have to say #BlackLivesMatter? Seriously? Because apparently we have forgotten that in this country, if we ever knew it. Because apparently it needs to be said out loud, loudly and forcefully enough for the shootings to stop and the otherizing to stop.

That’s all I have to offer right now, in the midst of stupefying sadness—to bear witness to the pain and anguish of those who must live in fear because of the color of their skin. Or, on other days marked by other videos and other tragedies, because of who they love, or the God they worship, or the money they don’t have.

This is what I have to give: To say on behalf of our institution, yes, yes, we see it. We see it and it is not ok. To say, we will do our part. To protest, along with you, “Enough, stop it, no more.”

#BlackLivesMatter, #JustPgh, AAMB, African American boys, African American men, guns, police, shooting, violence
Written by

Grant Oliphant


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Jennifer Smith

7/21/2016 at 2:43 PM

Thank you for acknowledging the black elephant in the white room. Your bravery is touching. I pray your call to action is heeded by ALL. 

albert smith

7/14/2016 at 11:37 AM

Thank you for you insight on this matter of tradgies I am a black man myself an I really appreciate that you took the time an effort to talk about what really matters. A lot of people who were once silent can now speak up and say we need to fix this in our city. Police violence needs to stop period and I qoute:''ENOUGH, STOP IT, NO MORE, Please stop killing us.

Karen Smith-Burden

7/10/2016 at 6:16 AM

Thank you for speaking the words of so many silent people...and for urging them to step out of the audio shadow to bring their own voices into the light.

C. Denise Johnson

7/9/2016 at 10:15 AM

I appreciate the sentiment. After the local media audit, nothing has changed. What is the next step?

Georgia Berner

7/9/2016 at 9:33 AM

Thank you Grant!

We do no longer have the right to remain silent.  We need a plan of action that is deep and of long tenure! This vile tribalism did not grow in a day - it will take more than a day to undo it!

Cheryl Mbano

7/9/2016 at 2:07 AM

Thanks for your courage to voice the pain of many people in our country. The shock from recent events has rendered so many of us speechless. Your article, Enough, sums it all up...well said!

Charlene Newkirk

7/8/2016 at 7:34 PM

I deeply appreciate the heart and kindness behind your words. It is exactly what we need to hear as Americans and people from Pittsburgh. You are a remarkable leader and a blessing to this community. Thank you! 

Evans Moore

7/8/2016 at 1:40 PM


As ablack man who is impacted by these issues, I have to say thank you.


lynne procope

7/8/2016 at 1:05 PM

Thank you for such mindful and for articulating this issue with compassion. 

Patrick Jordan

7/8/2016 at 9:54 AM

Thank you Grant. 

Janet Niethamer

7/8/2016 at 9:44 AM

Excellent piece.  Thank you so much! 

Martha Smith

7/8/2016 at 9:14 AM

A brilliantly articulated piece that needs to be heard, really heard. M

Bruce Trachtenberg

7/8/2016 at 8:25 AM


Verna Vaughn

7/7/2016 at 11:20 PM

Grant, thank you for speaking up and out!...I believe a forum needs to be held within the white community, leaders, police officers and churches to address the hate, fear and prejudice against black people.  Maybe given an opportunity to hear and be heard can change hearts, reveal truths and expose weaknesses.

John Griffin

7/7/2016 at 10:37 PM

Thank you for that powerfull statement!

More than ever, humanity needs to do as you say, stop the shootings and the otherizing.

Michael Bailin

7/7/2016 at 9:37 PM

Good for you, Grant. A great piece.

Mike Bailin

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