The Rapidian

We are the skyline: Reflection from our windows, our pains

We cannot forget that we are the true reflection of brilliance on the horizon. Our sacrifices and hard work, our kindness toward our neighbor, our helping hand to those in need, these are the tools that will build the solid foundations and skyscrapers of hope within our children and the future.
Erica Soto led the Kids Summit, where attendees painted the Grand Rapids' skyline.

Erica Soto led the Kids Summit, where attendees painted the Grand Rapids' skyline. /Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard

Underwriting support from:

Erica

A Kids Summit attendee paints the Grand Rapids skyline.

A Kids Summit attendee paints the Grand Rapids skyline. /Erica Soto

A Kids Summit attendee paints the Grand Rapids skyline.

A Kids Summit attendee paints the Grand Rapids skyline. /Erica Soto

We all carry within us a purpose, which gives us pride in everything we are a part of. That pride is especially present in the cities we work, live, and play in. The skylines we regularly see, buildings that stretch hundreds of feet into the vibrant sky, illuminated horizons glowing with promise and purpose, are the landmarks for our own visions of the future. Those who sit in the buildings we admire, often completely unaware of how much we wish to be a part of the inside looking out, if only to have a small glimpse of what it means to have a seat at the table next to them.

I often wonder, however, if our skyline could reciprocate that vision, would it be just as awed and impressed by what is reflected from our windows and pains? Would the brilliant hues of blues, oranges, reds, and yellows that reflect so beautifully onto us daily remain as vibrant when confronted with the darkness that often dims our communities?

Every time a single parent is denied help for their family, forcing them to find another source of income outside of the home and miss crucial times of their children’s development, would the hues of blue turn gray? Would the gray, then, turn to ash when it realizes that the pain of absent parents in the home is the torch which consistently strikes the fire of anger in our youth? The media and music our children are exposed to making it easier to influence a system failure in their potential. The educators and leaders in our communities desperately seeking alternative paintbrushes and canvases for solutions to the pain.

Every time a family is torn apart by deportation and children are ripped from the only stability they know, would the oranges turn into a murky mud? Every time our black and brown citizens are pulled over, harassed, and killed by police officers and one another more than any other race in our city, would the bright red hues of the skyline turn into the faded color of blood that runs cold in our streets?

Would it turn its’ nose up at us and scoff at our differences, jealous of the beauty reflected in our diverse neighborhoods? Or would it secretly marvel at our resplendent array of colors and cultures, as it tries to learn how we naturally adapt to replenishing the brilliance, darkness robs from us? Would it even know what to do with such a stunning pallet? Lastly, I wonder if the skyline ever watches us sleep, green with envy, knowing that no matter how the sun reflects tomorrow, it will never be as beautiful a sight as us.

We cannot forget that we are the true reflection of brilliance on the horizon. Our sacrifices and hard work, our kindness toward our neighbor, our helping hand to those in need, these are the tools that will build the solid foundations and skyscrapers of hope within our children and the future. We have much work to do, but come gray skies or sunshine, I am ever hopeful in our tomorrow. It is a breathtaking view indeed.

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