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.

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?

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.



  1. Well written. This mirrors my heart's cry for the world we live in. The conversations I have had to have with my 10-year-old have broken my heart. How do you tell your child that a boy who looks like him was killed...seemingly because he looks like him? But our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. He's bigger than our prejudices and our injustices. Thanks for posting.

    1. Thank you Leah. Yes, our God is greater, stronger and higher -- and we can entrust our "Trayvons" to Him.