There are no words to adequately express the deep, abiding, brooding sadness that washed over me when I received the phone call from my best friend asking me if I had heard the George Zimmerman verdict.
“They let him go,” she said and a knot tightened in the pit of my stomach.I felt like Zechariah when he couldn’t believe what the angel told him. I could not speak.
I heard the outcry of my 16-year-old cousin who, I regretfully realized, is coming into the knowledge that every African-American male child must come to terms with in our country. He is perceived by too many as a threat and too readily labeled the cause of his own demise.
I wanted to post “WTH” on every gadget I owned. I knew it was not right, but right seemed to have gone on vacation with justice as her travel companion.
I have spent the past few days on guard, grateful that no one outside of my community made any reference at all on the subject. I wasn’t sure I would be able to contain the volcano of emotions stirring inside of me.
I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, but there are times to speak and times to keep silent. This was a good time for those around me, who are not African-American, to keep silent on this subject. I was not yet ready to engage.
When I was asked to contribute to this column I struggled. I am still struggling even as I type.
As the Pastor of Freedom’s Chapel Christian Church, I am blessed to have more boys in my congregation than girls by a margin of 2 to 1; this is a prophetic and an unusual gift. I have watched baby boys grow into young men. When I see them, I see Trayvon Martin.
I realize it is unrealistic but I do not want them to leave their homes, to walk to the store near the church, to go to the teen party, to drive their cars. Each time I see them I whisper a quiet prayer: Lord keep them safe.
Sunday I stood before the congregation when it was time to pray with these words on my iPad.
“The poet said, ‘Truth crushed to earth shall rise again; the eternal years of God are hers.’ The prophet Isaiah said, Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”
Then I asked the people to join hands as I prayed:
“God of all justice, life giver to Emmitt, Medgar, Amadou Diallo, Trayvon Martin and countless numbers of black bodies and souls devalued and denied life. Give us the courage to live our lives in ways that honor and give power to the life and legacy of those snatched from us and gone too soon.
“In the spirit of David Walker, Ida B. Wells and Nat Turner, may we move through this pain, past this sick sense of resignation into the kinds of action that inspired Martin, Malcolm and Maxine. May we continue to fight for life and justice until there are no more Trayvons to add to history lessons and family discourse.
“Keep our black and brown babies as safe as every other baby in this country we call home. In the name of a baby born to the unwed, in the wrong part of town who too was considered a threat to the status quo, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”
I know that others may have a different opinion. They have that right. Today I do not care, my eyes are too filled with tears right now to see another point of view.