This is kind of a departure from my other entries but I think valuable because if I can’t make connections to the life I live the other 23 hours of the day, my prayer and reflection is useless.
Probably you, like me, were saddened by the death of the 17 year old black boy in Florida who was mistaken for a criminal and shot by a neighborhood watchman. It makes me so sad that we live in a world where mothers have to be afraid for the safety of their sons walking through our city streets and neighborhoods; just as much as it makes me sad that there are truly violent people out there who will do harm to others. This is a part of the kingdom that has not yet come to earth. The part of the kingdom that the Sanhedrin certainly didn’t get when they had Jesus on trial. The part I (and I am sure, you) pray for with each Our Father.
“Marian Wright Edelmen, in her piece ‘Walking While Black,’ points out the major crime that Martin committed—happening to fit a stereotype of someone up to no good, determined not just by clothing, but very much by race. She explains the burden that black parents have on teaching their children—specifically, their sons—how to act so that they don’t seem dangerous to others. She also points out that sadly, the Trayvon Martin case is not unique, and that black males age 15 to 19 were eight times as likely as white males to be victims of homicide in 2008 and 2009.
‘We won’t get it,’ Edelman says, ‘Until we have a culture that sees every child as a child of God and sacred, instead of seeing some as expendable statistics, and others as threats and ‘no good’ because of the color of their skin or because they chose to walk home wearing a hood in the rain.” (Hoodie arguments:Race, clothing, and Trayvon Martin by Liz Lefebvre)
Its easy to take on the desperation of a bystander when we hear stories like this. Once again, something I can do nothing about…or can’t I? I remember a reflection from the Jesuits’ Sacred Space website from last week that I emailed to myself, sensing it had importance to me but not knowing quite how: Because our work helps others, it fits in with the work of God. Our small daily agenda is part of God’s agenda. If it is not, then we need to make a change.
And as I read the words of Edelmen, allowing the weight of what those hoodied boys and there loved ones deal with daily to sink in on me…a whisper…the next time I see a hoodied young person, I can meet his eyes. I can smile and say hello. I can reflect back to him his God-given dignity. This small act has to be a part of God’s agenda.