As a mother of a young man who played football, my heart breaks every time I see the picture of Trayvon Martin in his football uniform. I have a dozen such pictures still on my fridge and in photograph albums, pictures taken as I watched my little boy grow into a man. When I think that Trayvon’s mother will not have that same joy, I am overwhelmed with sadness. She, especially, and all those who love Trayvon are in my prayers. In my prayers as well are the Zimmermans, the police and the entire community of Sanford, Florida.
The tangled intersection of beliefs and assumptions that have made Trayvon’s death and the aftermath controversial in Florida, are also at work in our church. It makes it difficult to say exactly the right word in a church as diverse as ours. But to say nothing is unacceptable.
No matter what specifically happened in the moments before an adult, primed to be suspicious, took foot and followed, then shot an unarmed teenager, something wrong happened here. This occurrence has spotlighted for us again the complicated reality of race and guns in our society.
Would the armed man have shot a young white man? Would he even have felt threatened enough to call 911 and then go after him? Unlikely. Racial stereotypes played a role here. As they do in so many situations.
Our church is 10 years into a pro-reconciliation/anti-racism priority. Some have said it is too much; we took care of these matters in the ‘60s. But the shooting of Trayvon Martin shows us otherwise. Until we can see clearly how race impacts our interactions – and also do our best to stop the detrimental effects – we still have work to do.
Brother and Sister Disciples, let’s keep up the work. Support Reconciliation Ministry with your gift. Get involved with the anti-racism team in your region. Enter into partnership with a congregation of a different race in your community. Learn what you can do to erase the unintended ways that race affects your own thinking.
Let’s do our part to build communities of wholeness where neighbors are not separated by suspicion but are rather united in a common desire to see the best for each other and our children. May God guide and direct our thoughts and our actions.