I have been somewhat silent of late on this blog in part because I have been busy in my clerical life. That is no excuse, however, for not speaking up about an issue which has had intense media attention.
It has been over a month since Trayvon Martin’s death. There has been no arrest although we know who the shooter is. I do not presume to judge the evidence and convict the shooter – our courts should be the place for that. But I do presume to point to the fact that it was a young black man who was shot, a young man carrying ice tea and candy home – that is right – home in a racially mixed, gated community. In any universe in which we would want to live, this type of event would not, could not occur. No one would be chasing a young black man because of the color of his skin which made him suspicious; no one would be carrying a gun.
Neither do I presume that my words here or at public gatherings will evoke justice. Injustice is imbedded in our society. But, that does not mean that we do not have a moral responsibility to speak out and to stand up for justice. Yes, I believe it is a religious responsibility as much as paying tithing or going to church on Sunday or Friday. It is a responsibility based in the theology of every faith. It is such a simple tenet – to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yes, the golden rule. And, it is one that we do not live well, in particular, in terms of those who are different from us.
I do not understand why the color of someone’s skin diminishes the humanity of that individual in some people’s eyes. I never have. It does not mean that I do not or have not participated in racism. I do not do so consciously, but as part of the dominant white culture, I have some complicity in perpetuating racism.
I feel right now that I can have little impact on the situation at hand. I can not move the judiciary or the civil authorities to do justice. What I can do, however, is raise our level of awareness of our society’s ongoing injustice to those of color. As we raise awareness, as we point out our own acceptance of injustice because of our seemingly ineffective actions, we can begin to call attention to those in power about the unfairness, the inequities in our systems. It is not just Trayvon, but hundreds of black men who are killed each year, some of which carry the tone of lynchings of old, which need to have their visibility raised. They call for justice as well.
In beating my chest, in crying for this visibility, I do so knowing full well that many of us just simply want the issue to go away. We’ve heard enough about this. But, can we in all good conscience, say that to all of those black mothers who fear, and fear rightly so, for the lives of their children?
My heart aches. It does. I want to ease that ache and the only way I know of is to speak my truth to power. Let us speak our truth about the implicit as well as explicit racism in our society. Let us live into a world where justice is the rule, not the exception.