Steven Singer knew that he had to say something the day after the grand jury verdict in Ferguson. He looked out at his students, mostly black and brown, and asked for a moment of silence.

In that moment, they and he understood one another.

“So we bowed our heads in silence.

I’ve never heard a sound quit like this emptiness. Footsteps pattered in the hall, an adult’s voice could be heard far away giving directions. But in our room you could almost hear your own heart beating. What a lonely sound, more like a rhythm than any particular note of the scale.

“But as we stood there together it was somehow less lonely. All those solitary hearts beating with a single purpose.”

There was one question he could not answer:

“One boy asked me, “Why does this keep happening, Mr. Singer?””