Will we hear the scream?
By Sister Renee Y.
Throughout its history, America has suffered from the deep schizophrenia of color. And certain events have driven the wedge of that illness deeper and deeper into our souls. Last night was such an event. Justice and law have seldom been further from each other than they were when last night’s verdict was read.
As an American, I am ashamed and outraged that the law has protected a perpetrator of the worst kind of racial intimidation. Because Trayvon Martin is dead for only one essential reason – he was Black. And in our deep hearts, I think we all know it.
There will be all kinds of repercussions from last night’s travesty of justice. It may be used by some as an excuse for reactive violence, hate and division. It may be used by others to further justify codification of laws that control people based on color, language, ethnicity, country of origin or level of education and economy.
Perhaps most insidious of all, it will suggest its poison into our neighborhoods and workplaces where people of different races and backgrounds pursue the opportunity to enrich each others lives by our shared work, histories, cultures and faith. It will do this if we are silent. It will do this if we do not share our honest, humble, prayerfully considered feelings about this tragedy. It will do this if we do not act together to bring justice and law into alignment.
George Zimmerman has been exonerated in a court of law. But he will never be a free man. Life, as he knew it, is over for him and he will live forever hearing that final scream, no matter whose it was.
The question is, will we hear it? Will we hear it calling out to us to address the laws which allow injustice to triumph? To face the fears which cause us to stereotype each other as criminals? To reach across our historic schizophrenia to the person we know by name, whose children’s pictures are on the desk, whose dreams and stories are just under the surface of his color, if we are willing to scratch it. Will we be brave enough to have the conversations that heal rather than the silences that further divide us?
This is a challenge to every one of us, whatever our skin color may be. Beneath the surface, we are all the same color – deep blood red. We all send our children out of the house hoping the world will protect and not harm them. It is in that depth that we must join one another to convert this tragedy to some form of good – to build a world where those hopes may be assured.