Looking Beyond Labels to Love

City of Eastvale

Courtesy City of Eastvale
Deputy Myers hugging ERHS student, Elysia.

Eastvale – In Eastvale, Black Lives Matter. In fact, all lives regardless of nationality, profession, politics, abilities, gender, religion, class, color, and culture matter in Eastvale. We look past labels to one’s heart. Our heart and actions define our character.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the one below certainly qualifies. The photo of Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Deanna Myers embracing a young Eleanor Roosevelt High School (ERHS) student Elysia during the George Floyd protest tells the story of loving past labels.

The two met years before at ERHS where Deputy Myers served as a school resource officer and Elysia was a student. Upon seeing Elysia for the first time at school one day Deputy Myers greeted her with a hearty “Hi”. However, Elysia’s interaction with law enforcement before meeting Deputy Myers was guarded because of historical context of racism, social norms and labels.

It was that historical context that caused Elysia to respond, “I hate cops, why are you different?” This question sparked a female role model mentoring relationship that changed both of their lives. Their relationship grew over the years and they kept in touch over social media as time passed. Fast forward to Sunday, June 1, 2020 they found themselves on perceived opposite sides of a line drawn in response to a violent death. The picture is poignant because given the circumstances the rules forbid crossing the line. When Elysia caught sight of Deputy Myers, she bravely approached her and stood awaiting the embrace she had grown accustomed to receiving. Despite the reality of being on duty, armed to protect the constitutional right of those protesting and to keep the peace, Myers enlisted I another Deputy to replace her on the line and found her way to lovingly embrace Elysia. Once again, Myers looked past skin color to the heart of Elysia and Elysia looked past the badge to the heart of Myers. Their embrace is a sign of hope and peace.

Deputy Myers has seen her fair share of heartbreak and has had to triumph over obstacles in her life, which forced her to grow up quickly. She is a first generation immigrant, the first to go to college in her family, and she overcame discrimination as a woman in a male dominated law enforcement profession where she had to earn the trust and respect of her fellow peers as it wasn’t always freely given. She also endured the pain of her grandmother being abducted and murdered, the loss of her father and had to care for her ailing mother shortly after that, along with raising her teenage sibling.

Deputy Myers, because of losing her grandmother too early and in a violent way, could have chosen to be a victim or villain and instead chose to be a victor and take steps and actions to make a difference in her community. She chose to create a legacy that reflects the woman her grandmother and parents would have wanted her to become. Myer’s chose to make a difference and join the law enforcement profession. After creating a bond with Elysia and breaking down that barrier by serving as a female role model, Elysia wants to emulate her mentor and serve in the law enforcement profession.

Now with RSO for almost 13 years, Deputy Myers has a message of hope for our community for which will hopefully help change the language, conversation and culture.

“We need to advocate for the right voices to be heard. I take pride in being different and pushing out a positive message. Everyone is a blessing and there is good in everyone. Everyone has an opportunity to create their legacy.” – Deputy Myers

As a nation and as a community, we need to both respect the badge and hold the person wearing the badge accountable. After all, we are all people, regardless of the badge and color of our skin. We must learn to look past the label and see the heart. This will allow us to transcend the divide and breakdown barriers through seeking to understand each other’s unique differences and stories.

Photo was taken by Marc Danelian. This post was written after interview Deputy Myers. Next week, we’ll be sharing a perspective from an interview with Elysia.