My heart hurts. It seems that you cannot turn on the tv anymore without seeing some act of violence, terrorism, or racism. One feels powerless to change the systems that create these actions, these environments. We cry out angrily to politicians “DO SOMETHING!” and yet nothing changes. A terrorist shoots up a night club, police officers kill black men, snipers shoot down a peaceful protest. . . when will it end? How do we make it end?

I wish I knew the answers to these questions. Anytime something happens like this, I think, but how do I help?

After two black men were unjustly killed this week, I am reminded of something by the writing community I am surrounded by. Words are important. One of the members posted a link to this blog Crawling out of the Classroom. This post talks about the importance of sharing the stories of those affected by racism with students to educate them on racism in America. I am not a teacher, but I think it is a very important post so I am sharing it where ever I can.

This post also reminded me of two phrases I heard from children’s book writers this year at conferences. I carry these words in my heart and I hope to carry them into my work.

“We write to express empathy in a broken world.” – Gary Schmidt
“We do not have to save the world, we just have to tell its stories.” – Suzy Ismail

As a writer and illustrator I will hopefully one day have an effect on children reading my words, looking at my pictures. I may not have much power to affect changes in political systems, but by teaching children kindness, respect, and inclusion in my art and words, hopefully I can make a difference.

Anytime something terrible happens in the world I am reminded of a video that went viral after the Paris attack. A father is comforting his scared child and tells him that the flowers and candles will remember those who lost their lives and protect them. (I am paraphrasing.) I was very struck by that video and have since wanted to create an image based on this father’s remarks. Today I was having a hard time focusing on the work that needed to be done in my studio when there are so many people hurting today, so I went ahead and just created the image.

anneappert_vigil

I want to draw and write to express empathy. I want to share the stories of those affected by these acts of violence.

This image is my vigil for the victims of violence, no matter what kind it is. A light for the brokenness of the world and of our country. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. I hope for a better future and for the wisdom to know how to make a better tomorrow for everyone regardless of race or religion. I pray for peace.