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After Uvalde school shooting, minister Danté Stewart says to protect your humanity in grief

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A family pays their respects next to crosses bearing the names of Tuesday's shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Jae C. Hong/AP)
A family pays their respects next to crosses bearing the names of Tuesday's shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Thursday, May 26, 2022. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The morning after 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, writer and theologian Danté Stewart made a choice.

He decided his son would attend school. It’s a decision millions of American families grappled with — paralyzed by disbelief and despair for the families who lost their children after making that same decision just the day before.

Stewart wrote about this in the publication Andscape, formerly known as The Undefeated, in a piece titled, “Dark Days Require Deep Love.”

“I think in moments of trauma and terror, it’s very easy to be overcome, overwhelmed. Even so, in some sense, defeated by the circumstances of our life and the circumstances we are forced to live in,” Stewart says. “And I think the choice [is] to allow him to experience the joys of what it means to walk in school.”

Each morning, Stewart says he and his son say a series of affirmations to one another: “I am beautiful. I am kind. I am strong. I am loved. I'm going to have a great day. I can do anything. I will see you later.”

The idea for these daily affirmations came from his mother, Stewart says. It’s a tool to protect your humanity despite the ugliness of the world.

“When we are faced with so much inhumanity,” he says, “we need an alternative imagination that accepts our humanity, fights for it, embraces it, and reminds us again and again and again and again that life is not just about resisting all of this, but it's about creating something different, something better.”

This segment aired on May 26, 2022.

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Tonya Mosley was the LA-based co-host of Here & Now.

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Samantha Raphelson is an associate producer for Here & Now, based at NPR in Washington, D.C.

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