Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

Breaking News

breaking-news.htmThere seems to be no end to all things heart- wrenching, disturbing, troubling, questionable, unbelievable.  This 24- hour news cycle is keeping me awake at night as I seek to know what’s happening right up to the minute.  The exclusive coverage is relentless, merciless even in its pursuit for the next top story and I am all ears for “news you won’t hear anywhere else.”

I question whether I should even turn on the television to find out what is happening in the world for fear of another salacious report, incomparable act and (not or) mind-blowing admission.  Criminals are raising the stakes when they don’t kidnap one girl but nearly three hundred (#saveourgirls), when men, women and children are blowing up themselves and with bodies, buildings/ buses/ malles/ planes, spreading pieces of our lives all over the ground, when murder is committed in real time and on live television (referred to as “the ultimate selfie”), when persons are no longer satisfied with secret meetings but show up at a prayer meeting to profess their hatred.

It seems that everyone is upping the ante.  Politicians are asked to tone down their rhetoric of attack on running mates as supporters take to physical violence at rallies.  Not to be outdone, news stations and camera crews are competing against each other, racing to get to where the stories are.  They are on assignment and I am looking at their notes.

But, what happens when there is always breaking news?  What of our selves is being broken, fragmented, disconnected when we are faced with these stories over and over again?  What of our heart’s conditions when these reports become their meditation?

George Zimmerman, the man who murdered seventeen year old Trayvon Martin in 2012 and sparked a national conversation on gun laws, outrage and protest, is back in the news.  Acquitted of the charge of murder, he now wants to sell the gun that took the life of Mr. Martin.  He currently has an offer of some $138,000 and is vetting several others.  The Baltimore Sun described his latest action as “dancing on Trayvon Martin’s grave,” arguing that it devalues African American life.  Before receiving the offers for the gun, Zimmerman had suggested that the Smithsonian acquire it as a piece of American history.  Of course, they declined.

I am stupefied.  What kind of news is this and what does the report say about us, about the kinds of people that we are supporting, about the world that we are creating?  I lament the fact that this is the course that he has taken, that I am even writing these words.  I want to walk around in sackcloth and ashes.

Maybe the news isn’t breaking any more.  Perhaps, it has already broken us as we have gotten use to reports like these.  The reporter’s cynicism, projected unbiased delivery and ability to move on to the next story or return after this commercial break has seeped into our souls.  I have not watched the news much lately, turned off my “the teasers.”

It might be time to break with the news for awhile and spend that time on the good news.

 

Trayvon Martin: Blackness and Halloween Costumes

Trayvon Martin.  Most Americans know his name and the story of his death.  But, now his name is strangely associated with Halloween.  Apparently, some persons think that it is acceptable to dress like a dead child and in blackface, no less.  I cannot even begin to describe the callousness of those who think it good fun to mock the tragic death of another and to suggest that one can represent a socially colored black person by painting their face black.

Rants on social media simply don’t cut it and a law can’t fix this.  Another conference will not make sense of it.  This is a matter for the heart and it is at the core of our humanity.  We must reconcile these truths, these choices to deeply offend.

And I don’t want to hear, “It wasn’t me.”  Or, “This was their poor decision.  We can’t blame everyone.”  No, I do blame all of  us.  What have we done or left unsaid if this is a choice?  What are we really afraid of?  And why does the taking of this child’s life not invoke fear in all of us?

And I don’t want to hear that Halloween has passed, that it’s old news now, that the matter is finished because the Facebook account has been closed and he has changed his profile picture.  This does not mean that the work is finished– because we don’t see it any more.  No.

And don’t let the fact that Trayvon Martin died three years ago imply that what happened to him is in the past.  Clearly, it is not; his life and his death now made present in the form of a costume.

Raven McGill offers words for us to reflect on at a National Poetry Slam.

 

 

Ferguson: Given Our History

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“We are trapped in history and history is trapped in us,” James Baldwin said.  Perhaps, it is time to remove the snare, to be free to live in the moment.  To receive the present as a gift of newness.

While I am certainly one who loves history, reflection and meditating on words of old, I do believe that there is a time for history and that history has its place.  It is to be respected but not necessarily repeated, especially not for the purpose of wounding. As it relates to race and more specifically, the tragedy that happened and is happening in Ferguson, repetition can pick at a wound  rather than (re-)examine it.  Repetition in word or in deed not only reopens the wound but can begin the healing process all over again.  It can increase our recovery time so we must be careful what we say in terms of race.

There is a purpose for history that is often lost on days like this one when cities like Ferguson may remind us of days long ago.  Too often, more time is spent focusing on the pain of history and not the progress of time.  America has overcome a great deal and while the fact is that Mr. Michael Brown, Jr. and Officer Darren Wilson are viewed through the social construct of race, making them socially colored black and white respectively and fitting them neatly into the racial narrative, their story is not the same.  Too quickly and rather to simply, we reduce the death to ‘white’ against ‘black,’ another casualty in the often unspoken but assumed ‘race war.’  But, death is much more complicated than this.

The date and time, the characters, the setting, the circumstances are all different.  Mr. Brown is not Mr. Trayvon Martin and Mr. Martin is not Mr. Emmett Till or any other African American killed in recent or past days, months or even years.  And Officer Darren Wilson is not Mr. George Zimmerman and Mr. Zimmerman is not Mr. Roy Bryant or Mr. J.W. Milam.  These are all different people at different times whose actions must not be grouped together and made to represent one impossible, endless present.

We can look back on our history but we must not step back into it.  We are better than we were and we can be better than we have been.  These deaths though grievous should not stereotype all of America’s relations with each other.  All over the country, many persons have formed friendships and are choosing to form familial relationships with persons of other cultures.  This is something that would not have existed or happened in the past in public or on a large scale and says very clearly that we are not as hateful, stereotypical, prejudiced or segregated as we once were.

And given our history, we should want to progress.  Given our history, we should want to change the time that we live in now.  Given our history, we should know what works and what doesn’t.  Given our history, we should stop repeating it and choose today, to be fully present to listen, accept, apologize, forgive and reconcile for what is happening now… not allowing any more time to pass.

History should not be a burden, an old and bitter person spewing hatred, resentment and unforgiveness.  History and all of time really is a blessing, providing perspective, clarity and understanding with a spirit of peace, gentleness and humility.  If not, then history has no lesson for us, having not learned from its time and neither will we.

Trayvon Martin and the Nativity?

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What do baby Jesus and Trayvon Martin have in common?  Violence.  “Jesus was born into a state of total vulnerability as an innocent unarmed child during a time of great violence much like Trayvon Martin… As a result, the original Christmas was a time of great grief and agony for many children and parents,” reads the sign posted near the artist John Zachary’s nativity scene.

Claremont United Methodist Church in Claremont, California has decided to put the issue of gun violence on display along with the birth of Jesus Christ reports the Huffington Post in a recent article.  Apparently, Advent ’tis the season as “there is no better time to reflect on gun violence.”  Using a depiction of a bleeding Trayvon Martin, an American son given to the idol of gun violence, the church hopes to attack the myth of redemptive violence, remind Christians that they should identify with the victims of violence and challenge them to commit to peace on earth.

When I first posted this story on December 27, 2013, I did not provide my position.  I feel it necessary to do so now (January 2, 2014) as it has been assumed that I endorse the scene.  I do not.

While Trayvon’s death was tragic, he does not represent the life, ministry or atoning sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on behalf of humanity.  I do not support any image of Christ being depicted in a nativity scene or otherwise. Trayvon’s blood did not do for me what Christ’s did and the racialized reasons for which some believe he died do not reflect the reason for which Christ died for humanity.  Jesus died out of love (John 3.16).   He died once for all (Romans 6.10; First Peter 3.18; Hebrews 9.28).  Christ’s blood covered our sins as our substitute and our sacrificial lamb (First Corinthians 5.7). Trayvon’s blood sadly only covered the sidewalk.

And no one took Jesus’ life but he gave it.  He laid it down and has the power to take it up again (John 10.18).  He was not gunned down but crucified.  He was not profiled; he came to die (First Timothy 1.15).  Those he came to save did not believe that he was the Messiah; his own disciples were uncertain as to his identity (Matthew 16.13).

Our culture often attempts to demote Jesus in music, on movie screens and magazine covers, to humanize Jesus to the point where his divinity is unrecognizable. Yes, Jesus walked among us. Yes, Jesus is acquainted with our suffering and grief.  But, Jesus is also God.  Trayvon was not.  Again and again, we are guilty of worshipping in life and in death the creature and not the Creator (Romans 1.25).

God, help us all.  Amen.

After courageously sharing with readers his struggles with “irrational and unbiblical” fear of those who were culturally different from him, Peter Chin asks this question in an opinion piece on the Christianity Today website.  Though he is honest about what educational training and good intentions won’t do with regard to eradicating prejudice, Chin sees the possibility for changes in the way we view and consequently relate to each other.  Where?  The church.  He writes, “We need a place where we can walk alongside a person who is outwardly different but to whom we are inwardly connected… In the church, people who are incredibly different from one another can walk into a room and feel instantly connected, not by virtue of their ethnic or racial or cultural similarities, but by the fact that the name of Jesus brings a word of worship to their lips. ” Selah.