Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Sons Are Trayvon


It's been a month and one day since the February 26th slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Much has transpired in the past month, and I've kept silent through all of it.

I just can't hold my tongue -- or fingertips -- any longer.

So let me start with what I'm not going to do here:
  • I am not going to rant and rave
  • I will not try George Zimmerman in the court of "Deep Waters"
  • I'm not going to post a picture of myself in a hoodie (though I'm loving the impact of those images I'm seeing on Facebook and Twitter)
But I would like to examine this tragedy and share what God is teaching me through it.

Justice
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I agree wholeheartedly. Injustice in India is injustice in the United States. Injustice in Kenya is injustice in Great Britain. Injustice in Sanford, Florida is injustice in my town and yours.

Documented records state that Zimmerman called the police, identifying Trayvon as a "suspicious person." He was advised to "stand down" until the local police could send officers to investigate. It appears he disobeyed, and the end result was the death of a teenage boy.

Meanwhile, the boy had no weapon in his possession. Only a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.

The known, released facts of this case point to major injustice. What made this slender kid suspicious? His race? The hoodie he wore?

Possibly the same thing that makes my 15-year-old son, Kalin suspicious. The same thing that makes any teenage boy of color suspicious. The very thing that they cannot change about themselves -- their skin tone.

It saddens me to have to tell my son that he shouldn't wear his hair in certain styles because he might be labeled a thug in our predominantly white community. It saddens me to have to remind him to use perfect English so he won't be considered dumb and lazy by his teachers and administrators. And it saddens me to know that his mere presence (especially at night, especially wearing a hoodie) would be intimidating and "suspicious" to others.

One slogan that's been birthed from this tragedy is "I am Trayvon." As the mom of two African American boys, I now say, "My sons are Trayvon." And if your son is of color, he too is Trayvon.

What is justice in this tragic situation? Justice is promoting an end to racial profiling. Justice is treating all people fairly, regardless of the color of his or her skin, regardless of any preconceived notions we have of one another. Justice is people of different races living together in love and unity.

And yet, I wonder -- will we see justice on this side of heaven?

Mercy
Having studied the minor prophets of the bible for several months now, a life verse has risen from the pages of scripture for me.
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
I love the balance of the word of God. I've heard the cry for justice from my brothers and sisters (of different hues, by the way), and I understand. I too want to see Zimmerman face trial. I too want justice served. I too want an honest examination of the facts in a court of law. And I too want to see him punished for the slaying of this young man.

However, as a child of God, I also desire mercy for all involved. I want every fact examined on both sides. I want truth to win out, and I honestly can't say I currently know the whole truth. I do not want Zimmerman dead. I do not believe in an eye for an eye.

I believe in a balance of truth and grace. A balance of justice and mercy. And that's my prayer for George Zimmerman. That's my prayer for Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

For Trayvon's sake, and the sake our precious children, let's pray for a balance of justice and mercy. Let's pray that God will somehow be glorified and magnified through this tragedy. Let's pray that Christian leaders -- of all races -- would speak out for Trayvon's sake. For my Kalin's sake. For your son's sake.

After all, our sons are Trayvon.

Carla

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: What's the Big Deal?



Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Every year this holiday comes and goes, and I'm left scratching my head. I wonder:
  • Who was this St. Patrick guy?
  • Was he Irish?
  • What did he do for the Irish people?
  • Is he a cultural or religious hero?
  • And what in the world does the shamrock have to do with anything?
Thanks to the internet and a few easy clicks on my laptop keyboard, I've finally got some answers. And I couldn't help but share the wealth with you, my friend.

Well, it turns out that St. Patrick, born around 387 A.D., is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Interestingly, St. Patrick wasn't Irish at all. He was born to an aristocratic Christian family in Britain; his grandfather and father were deacons in the Christian church.

At age sixteen, Patrick's life took a tragic turn when Irish raiders kidnapped him and took him to Ireland as a slave. During his years of slavery, he tended sheep and had a personal conversion to Christianity. After beginning a relationship with Christ, he heard the voice of God telling him to escape slavery and return to his native Britain. He obeyed, experiencing the joy of freedom again.

Upon returning to Britain, he joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied for the priesthood. Once again he heard the voice of God, this time telling him to go back to Ireland. Again he obeyed and spent the rest of his life as a missionary, bringing many in Ireland to Christ.

And what about that shamrock? According to Irish legend, Patrick used the shamrock, a white (not green) wild-growing three-leaf clover, to explain the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So it seems that our St. Patrick was a strong believer of Jesus, a godly man that suffered his share of trials, and a Christian leader that gave his life to telling others about the Lord. Sounds a lot like the Apostle Paul that led many to Christ in his day. Sounds like a man that I'd like to emulate.

So today, I say again -- Happy St. Patrick's Day. I'm excited to say that with authority and knowledge for the first time in my life.

Maybe you can too!

In Him,

Carla

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day: Girl Power Is No New Thing






Happy International Women's Day 2012! Now if you're like me, you didn't wake up excited to celebrate this annual event. You, like me, may not have even known that March 8th marks this holiday celebrated world-wide.

And if you're really like me, you just had to do some investigating.

According to www.internationalwomensday.com, "International Women's Day provides a common day for globally recognizing and applauding women's achievements as well as for observing and highlighting gender inequalities and issues."

Now that's something to celebrate, isn't it?

So today I'm blogging in honor of all you beautiful, intelligent and talented women out there. Let's celebrate our "Girl Power" together.

Well, I could talk about any number of women today. This morning I just read a magazine article in Essence about Maxine Waters, the 73-year-old California congresswoman, still causing a ruckus in our nation's capitol on behalf of the underserved and underprivileged. I could write about Zelmyra Fisher, the 101-year-old woman still living, still impacting her world, and still married to her sweetheart Herbert. The Fishers hold the Guinness World Record for the longest married couple. And of course I could write about the late diva-icon Whitney Houston, who recently left behind a legacy of beautiful, heart-stirring music.

But I think I'll blog "Deep Waters" style. I want to share about a group of women that few know about. These women were amazing philanthropists, way ahead of their time. Their loving generosity and activism changed our world forever.

Just ask Jesus.

That's right. These women impacted and influenced our savior's ministry tremendously. If you don't believe me, just check out the write-up on them found in Luke 8:1-3:
"After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdelene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."
Whew! There's a lot in these verses. Let's break down what they tell us.
  • These women hung out with Jesus and His Twelve Disciples, while Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the gospel
  • They had been miraculously cured of evil spirits and diseases -- probably cured personally by Jesus
  • Mary Magdelene, Joanna and Susanna were amongst this group, but there were "many others"
  • Some of them probably risked their lives by associating intimately with Jesus; Joanna, for example, who was married to the manager of one of Jesus' enemies -- Herod. 
  • They supported Jesus' ministry financially from their own monies
These women were righteous, courageous and full of faith. And their faith changed the world.

May we be women of righteousness, courage and faith. And on International Women's Day 2012, may we likewise do our part to change the world.

Carla