Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Shepastor: "May This Bloodshed Not Be In Vain"
This past week, America was reminded in painful ways that we still have many rivers to cross when it comes to race relations. Although we have elected for two terms our first African American President, racism still looms large in America.
Statistics show that African American and Hispanic males are significantly more likely to be profiled, detained, prosecuted, incarcerated and killed than their Euro American counterparts. Though not to the extreme, as an African American woman, I too have experienced the sting and frustration of racial profiling. As I visit certain stores or neighborhoods, as I enter certain meetings or business rooms, the stares, the sudden appearance of a security guard, the not so subtle store clerk following me around, all serve as reminders that my milk chocolate brown skin still produces fear and suspicion in the majority society.
While legal pundits will argue that the recent tragedy of the murder of Trayvon Martin was not about racial profiling, common sense dictates otherwise. One can't help but wonder if this seventeen year old boy were White, walking down the street on the phone, eating skittles and drinking tea, if he would have been labeled, "suspicious." Arguments that Trayvon had drugs in his system, was guilty of previous crimes, appeared menacing, etc. are irrelevant. The simple fact is that he was walking home.
The testimony of his friend on the phone was discounted because she was in articulate, offensive to some in her appearance and "raw" in her testimony. Although cell phone records proved consistent with her testimony regarding timing, 911 calls revealed racial slurs and an admonition to stay in his car, George Zimmerman, armed with a gun, chose to follow and confront an unarmed, teenager.
Wasn't this child afraid? Wasn't this child filled with anxiety? Wasn't this child concerned about his safety? How did Zimmerman approach him? Did he walk up on him (as Trayvon's friend on the cell phone seemed to indicate)? We will never know. Only Zimmerman's account was believed. An unarmed teenager simply walking home, profiled and stalked by a stranger armed with a 9 millimeter gun fights for his life and is then shot and killed. No attempt was made to discover his identity. As his body lay in a morgue for days, labeled "John Doe," Zimmerman tells his story to the police and is allowed to go home. Only after Trayvon's father filed a missing person's report was his identity made known. Our hearts are broken.
May this tragedy provoke us to enter meaningful dialogue about dangerous laws, stereotypes and their implications and race relations in America. May Trayvon's shed blood push us to produce the fruit of "Justice for all," in our great Nation. I encourage you to visit Essence Magazine's article, "The Danger Outside: How Can We Protect Our Black Boys," at http://www.essence.com/2012/10/12/danger-outside to consider further the realities that exist in our society.
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,