The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin came on Saturday, July 14, the day before our “Coming Out” service in celebration of San Diego’s Pride Festival.
The juxtaposition was painful. Saturday we received news of heartbreaking injustice: a man who had shot and killed a teenage boy walking home from the store in his own neighborhood was found not guilty of any crime. Sunday we celebrated the legalization of marriage equality in the state of California and the actions of the Supreme Court in opening doors for marriage quality across the nation.
A powerful reminder of how injustice often flourishes in our nation followed by a powerful reminder of how justice sometimes prevails.
Part of the pain of what happened in Florida is that the justice system was adhered to. Due process occurred. A fair trial occurred. For those of us who feel that the outcome was morally wrong, how do we fight for change? What do we protest? What went wrong?
In his speech following the verdict, President Obama said, “There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.”
The call for our church to engage in conversations around race is a call we can answer.
To begin, I invite you to read, if you haven’t, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I would love for us to read this together, as a congregation. I will be reading it for the next few months, and it will be the focus of our January 19 worship service in honor of Martin Luther King Day.
I hope you will read it with me.
Bright blessings, Sharon