Republished on what would have been Trayvon’s 24th birthday.
When I read this boy’s name, one among thousands of young black men who have died for the wrong reasons, I am overwhelmed by grief and shame.
The grief is for myself and every other parent and grandparent who cannot protect their children and grandchildren. It is for a life lost in violence so meaningless and yet so common as to sometimes escape notice. It is for a country and a people who cannot move beyond our destructive mindset that causes us to disregard the life of a human being in order to foster our own fear of losing a perceived privilege.
The shame is for being a part of a system that does not acknowledge it’s own history. It is for my inability to comprehend and change the corners of my own heart and mind that cling to my differences from other human beings. And my shame is especially for my unwillingness to work toward change of the insidious injustices that surround me.
Don’t mistake me. I am no longer an activist. If I were, I would not be sure about what to do about a travesty in Florida. But I know some things for sure.
I am responsible for my own attitudes. I can facilitate change by examining each of my thoughts and actions about everyone I meet, every word I read and everything I see on television. My opinions count, and I can be clear in what those opinions are and pure in my intentions.
I read a wonderful post this morning about racism on a blog that often educates me and sometimes challenges me, Love Isn’t Enough. Please read it here. I won’t even try to say it better.
But I will talk about my own responsibilities. I am going to try:
To never separate myself by location, nationality, color, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, education, religious beliefs or economic status.
To avoid fear of differences.
To search for similarities.
To nurture my empathy for others.
To speak out and speak up in the least confrontational way possible in order to foster change.
And to share my sorrow.