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What to Think About Trayvon?

Posted by Carey McDonald // July 15th 2013 // Stories and Voices // no comments

hoodI don’t know if I have much to add to the heart-breaking tragedy that has unfolded around the Zimmerman case, and has wrapped up in it the life of one innocent young American named Trayvon. In fact, the entire story, from Trayvon Martin’s senseless death eighteen months ago to George Zimmerman’s acquittal last weekend, leaves me, as I think it leaves most of us, feeling drained and defeated. I commit myself to the inherent worth and dignity of each person, and watched Trayvon’s dignity be violated in the ultimate way; I embrace the interdependent web of existence, which means I refuse to turn away from the ugliness.

When I look at this case I just don’t see the culpability of a single shooter, I witness the cruel matrix of violence, racism, ignorance and machismo that created the roles which these two individuals were fated to play. The time to save a life isn’t only the moment before a trigger is pulled, it is also in the dull halls of committee hearings in the state legislature when bills like the “Stand Your Ground” policy in Florida are being debated. It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the magnitude of what it takes to push back against the waves of injustice that pound us against the rocks, particularly those of us on the receiving end of the American racial caste system we have inherited.

A wise person once said that, when it comes to our young folks, our challenge as faithful leaders is to teach them that life will disappoint them. After we teach them to be idealistic and committed, we must also help them, and ourselves, understand how to withstand the emotional blows of developments like what happened last weekend. Because even if Zimmerman had been found guilty there still would have been thousands of deaths due to gun violence in this country, thousands of young men of color who will be stripped of their dignity, and millions who silently suffer from emotional and physical violence perpetrated by individuals and institutions in their home communities. We have to find a way to hold onto that fundamental truth of the world, while still staying connected to the spirit within us that moves us towards campaigning, voting and leading towards greater justice.

Just take a look at the inspiring young leaders our faith has already produced. The statement below was created by youth delegates at General Assembly this year in Louisville, KY, in response to a proposed Action of Immediate Witness condemning the “stop and frisk” policies of the New York City Police Department, and posted to the Youth Caucus Tumblr. I don’t think anyone could say it better than they have (click the image below):

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[Youth Caucus statement – http://youthcaucus.tumblr.com/post/53698975104/youth-caucus-reached-consensus-on-supporting-aiw-2]

About the Author

Carey is the Chief Operating Officer for the UUA.

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