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Multiple Shootings In Suburban Maryland Spurs Hunt For Suspect

Source: Alex Wong / Getty

This weekend, when I learned that someone had walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people, I thought of my Jewish friend, Susan Jacobs.

I met her 25 years ago, when she walked into the homeless shelter where, like many of the men there, I was trying to purge the demons of my drug addiction. Sue stood in front of a room of mostly black men, and asked if we wanted to write for a newsletter that would advocate for the homeless in the voice of those who were experiencing it.

I volunteered, and more than two decades later, I’m a multimedia journalist, the author of 10 books, a radio host and commentator, and a leader in this city. But more than that, I am Susan’s friend, and that has helped to shape my perspective on those who are not like me.

That’s what happens when people walk in with love in their hearts. Lives change, dreams are born, and people get to know one another beyond stereotypes.

But when the only thing you know of other people is what you read on a racist message board, your mind will form a picture before your eyes can actually see it.

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More from Praise host and award-winning columnist Solomon Jones:

The problem with Malcolm Jenkins’ activism: It cost him nothing

It’s difficult to lead a movement to end oppression and still be popular with the oppressor. Which is why I’ve spent the last two years viewing Malcolm Jenkins with a mixture of suspicion and confusion.

I wondered how Jenkins — an eloquent man with superior athletic ability — could credibly lead a group of NFL players in protesting racial injustice and lose nothing in the process. Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began those protests by kneeling during the national anthem, lost his job after he was effectively blackballed from the league. Eric Reid, a former Kaepernick teammate who joined the quarterback in those protests,  remained unsigned after becoming a free agent this offseason, until the Carolina Panthers picked him up last month.

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