Trayvon Martin and the White Christian Leader’s Response

To My White Christian Leader Friends:

For those who are not familiar with who Trayvon Martin is, he is another young black male (a teenager in this case) who has fell victim to a racialized lethal attack while unarmed, by a man who has about 10 years and 100 p0unds on the boy, and who also happened to be carrying a gun during the attack.  The racialized gaze which interprets black male bodies as suspicious and dangerous bodies, played out once more. This time, Trayvon was not armed with a wallet or cell phone (other apparently dangerous looking accessories when  being held by black bodies) but a pack of skittles and a can of soda. Apparently, the man who shot him had called 911 because Trayvon looked “suspicious” and that something was wrong with him. Deciding to ignore the advice of authorities, this vigilante decided to follow the young boy and then proceeded to fatally shoot him. Several witnesses have claimed to have heard the young boy screaming for help right before the gun went off. However, no arrests have been made, and the vigilante is claiming self defense, because this young boy armed with skittles and a soda obviously is a threat to a grown man armed with a gun, who himself decides to follow this child. At the minimum, does not the loss of this child’s life deserve an arrest and a hearing in court?

Black life continues to carry little value within America’s dominant culture. I wish that this was an isolated event, but in reality, with unfathomable regularity, there are these events that remind me over and over again that black bodies and black life are not valued in our country if they are not entertaining America. Simultaneously, I hear directly from many white Christian leaders, who claim that they want to break the pattern of racial division in the Church, not making the same mistakes of their ancestors, and wanting to have a more racially diverse and representative group. While I think all of those things are great, I sometimes wonder if people actually value black bodies and back life, or if it is merely just trendy and cool to have (or at least claim to want) a racially diverse group.

One thing I have noticed, since the few years I have been blogging and using twitter, is that when these racialized tragedies occur, my less pigmented brothers and sisters in Christ tend to often be ridiculously quiet. While many black and brown Christian leaders speak up and out about the senseless violence, (internal and external) very few white Christian leaders have anything to say on the subject matter. In fact, it at least appears as though many are so disconnected from black life, that they are business as usual throughout the tragedy and protest.  The question must be asked, can my brothers and sisters from within the dominant culture expect racial diversity in their communities while they enact no type of solidarity with those who are vulnerable under an unjust system? Restated, how can a person want to be racially inclusive and yet not care about the livelihood of those same people they want to attract? At quick glance, one could see this happen and assume that the outward expression of desiring a multicultural community is really masking the same old racially apathy that has been passed on for generations.

My challenge is for White Christian leaders (particularly those who have stated verbally their desire for racial diversity) to make solidarity with their systemically vulnerable black and brown brothers and sisters, standing with us as we expose and shame these atrocious acts.  Please, research it yourself, then talk about it within your own sphere of influence, deciding how you can best make a stand in solidarity for love, justice, peace, and reconciliation in your communities and nationwide. And for those who have shared their concern, ignore this, this was not meant for you, your solidarity is appreciated.

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

41 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin and the White Christian Leader’s Response

  1. It’s Ron Tilley. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been posting on the Emergent websites (like Scot Mcknight’s below) the same sentiments. I was commenting on a different situation, but similar.
    Why is it that the leaders of the historically African American denominations (who participate in the NAACP Religious Roundtable) had to lead this call for Franklin to retract his remarks aimed at misleading people into believing Obama is a Muslim for the sake of political expediency? I long for the day when leaders of evangelical congregations, missional communities/orgs, denoms and movements find it worthwhile of their time to take a stand against the kind of speech Franklin embarked upon. Speaking truth in love to such improper (hate?) speech by prominent evangelical Christian leaders on such a high-profile media platform as MSNBC is part of the Mission of God (IMHO) for us evangelicals. Why not stand in solidarity with our sisters at the historically African American denominations on this one? I wonder if anyone took the opportunity to use their platform at Verge to (in love) speak truth to justice on this issue?
    Curtis DeYoung in Coming Together in the 21st Century: The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity posited that the Euro-American (or whatever term you want to use for those of us who are not Latino/Hispanic and are generally considered White–and therefore historically privileged) can best contribute to Christian Unity and Reconciliation by being Truth-Tellers. From personal experience, I can’t begin to share how many believers whose roots are in the historic African American denoms long for Euro-Americans who will come beside them and be Truth tellers. Seems to me that the entire Emergent/Missional movement within evangelicalism is missing a great opportunity to engage in God’s mission of expressing unity with our sisters and brothers whose experience flows from those historic African American Christian circles.
    Glad to see that there were some other Christian leaders had spoken out against Franklin Graham’s remarks
    Twitter: @rontilley
    FB: ronaldjuliatilley (posting jointly with wife Julia)

  2. The doctrine of community justice is underdeveloped and unknown for many who find themselves in privileged communities. If there is something out providing a comprehensive view on justice it is not widely read and if its widely read it does not show that justice is something that ought to touch the society as a whole and the final answer isn’t simply “just preach the gospel to them”. I wonder if many “still” consider structural and systemic oppression to be in the same category as global warming—something liberal and therefore debatable. I “think” many in the emergent/missional camp would respond to accusations of structural and systemic racism by restating their innocence, i.e., “I didn’t kill Trayvon…why is it my problem?” I could be wrong—I hope I am wrong.

    The indiviualized response may not simply be an emergent/missional answer but may also be the response that privileged evangelicals have concerning these kinds of tragic and unjust events.

  3. Kyle, I agree. However, I am particularly frustrated with the emergent/missional silence, because I have heard so many discuss their desire for racial diversity in the church. Many traditional evangelicals have still not owned up to the racial division that exists. But for those who claim to have moved beyond the 1900’s racially divided church, and claim to want a Rev. 7:9 church that reconciles all people across all races into one body, their silence is particularly troubling for me. How can that be so and yet one still refuses to make solidarity with black christian leaders who are calling for them to speak up. I am puzzled. Maybe the silence is because they are too busy calling up black leaders and finding ways to actually implement more racially sensitive and inclusive practices… but I doubt that is the case. I know I need to be patient and show grace to others, but this week has been an emotionally tolling one, and so it is not easy. I see Trayvon’s face and it’s a wrap… Just being honest.

    1. I honestly wonder how many are actually calling up black pastors and asking their viewpoint on justice and how they could equip their congregation to deal with race matters. I’ve been schooled in predominantly white evangelical institutions and the majority are not concerned with addressing these issues…I actually believe that they might be ill-equipped to do so. I would add that there are some who are trying.

    2. These Southern Christians will never accept Blacks as members…There is too much deep seated hatred in their hearts….
      Majority of people that will go to hell will be those Southern Christians….Majority will go to their graves with that hate in their hearts…Many of them are already down in the ground….

      1. This is bigger than a southern problem, it happens every where in the country. Condemning some to hell will not move us forward. It’s time to rally together and combat the racial criminalizing of young black males every where.

    3. Drew, the crazy thing here is this – and this will likely only prove your post correct and show the problem more – is that I get almost all my news off twitter and I didn’t have a clue about this story and it’s details till yesterday. This says at least two things: the white leaders in my circles have been sadly quiet like you state in your post. Second, I seriously need a more diverse twitter stream.

      Really, really appreciate your pushing and perspective in this post. It’s needed.

      1. I believe you because it was my twitter stream that made me write this. All week (plus some) black christian leaders have been rallying Americans in big ways & most (few exceptions) white christian leaders seemed to be operating in another universe in which a national discussion was not taking place. Glad you did eventually hear & are talking about it. A diverse twitter stream (and relational network) is always a good thing, we all end up better for it. Thanks for sharing Todd.

  4. Drew, one of the hardest things for me personally is to know what to do with that kind of horrific demonstration of inhumanity. I, a less pigmented person, feel a deep sens of shame and embarrassment by the actions of people that look an awful lot like me. It not an excuse for no saying anything, but it is difficult to wade through the personal guilt to get to the better reactions of righteous indignation. Thank you for raising our awareness of what the silence does to you.

    1. Thanks for your honesty Dennis. My suggestion is to start there. Talk about what is going on, and even your wrestling over how to respond will probably impact more people than I will. I promise you that other people are feeling the same way you are. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking blog. I am a middle aged white woman who lost a 21-year-old son. Unfortunately, I CAN understand the horror and devastation that sweet boy’s parents are enduring. It will be 3 years in April since my beautiful son died and the pain can still be so intense it buckles my knees. How can we live in a country that allows the killing of children as business as usual???? I am also a mental health therapist. God, where are you? And I also can identify with what Dennis said. I am OFTEN ashamed of my whiteness and the unearned priviledge that affords. I hope my son Tommy was there to greet Trayvon in heaven.

  5. Hi, Drew.

    I just learned about this situation today. As a father of four, I rarely watch TV–even the news–or carve out time to stay up-to-date online. Clearly, I’m behind the news curve on this.

    After reading through a number of articles, timelines, recordings, statements, etc., it looks like this investigation was bungled from the start by the police. They need to be held accountable, as does the city counsel.

    I don’t know Florida law at all, so maybe I’m missing some technicality. Count me among those who think it is outrageous that Zimmerman has not been arrested. He should be arrested and put on trial before a jury.

    Regarding the “silence,” I can only speak for myself. First, some context: Before we got married over 17 years ago, my fiancé nearly called off the wedding because she was so concerned about my propensity for offending others when sharing my thoughts. Thankfully, I’ve become more diplomatic since then, but I still don’t hesitate to call it like I see it.

    I’m going to give a very analytical breakdown of myself here at the risk of being perceived as cold, unfeeling, a jerk or worse. Trying to communicate in this type of forum, where neither of us know each other, leaves written words wide open for misinterpreting tone and intent. I hope you can extend me grace and the benefit of the doubt on this, as a brother.

    I’ve probably not given this the depth of thought it deserves, but here’s my self-analysis at a time when my body and mind are craving sleep. And these are not excuses, but contributing factors for me. (Again, I’m analyzing me, not generalizing for others.)

    For me, contributing factors include: (1) awareness and (2) a interwoven tie between capacity, prioritization and the focussed intentionality/commitment to act.

    [continued below]

    This is the first and obvious factor. This particular incident has the potential to unify the vast majority of us (at least on this issue) regardless of race, socio-economic situation or political pursuasion. But, prior to today (now yesterday), I was completely unaware of the situation. Now that I’m aware, I’m on it and sharing within my sphere of influence to spur thought, conversation and perhaps even action. (More on “action” in a moment.)

    My silence on any given issue is generally the result of my wife and I aggressively prioritizing our focus on staying in relationship with our four children and occasionally saying “hello” to each other before we collapse into our beds at night. I’ll spare you our daily routine details. Yes, we have too much going on. We’re working on it. 🙂

  7. I think my original comment (to have preceded the “AWARENESS” section) did not go through. Hmmm. This may be disjointed, but what follows in this comment section should actually be read before the “AWARENESS” comment. Sorry for the confusion.
    Hi, Drew.

    I just learned about this situation today. As a father of four, I rarely watch TV–even the news–or carve out time to stay up-to-date online. Clearly, I’m behind the news curve on this.

    After reading through a number of articles, timelines, recordings, statements, etc., it looks like this investigation was bungled from the start by the police. They need to be held accountable, as does the city counsel.

    I don’t know Florida law at all, so maybe I’m missing some technicality. Count me among those who think it is outrageous that Zimmerman has not been arrested. He should be arrested and put on trial before a jury.

    Regarding the “silence,” I can only speak for myself. First, some context: Before we got married over 17 years ago, my fiancé nearly called off the wedding because she was so concerned about my propensity for offending others when sharing my thoughts. Thankfully, I’ve become more diplomatic since then, but I still don’t hesitate to call it like I see it.

    I’m going to give a very analytical breakdown of myself here at the risk of being perceived as cold, unfeeling, a jerk or worse. Trying to communicate in this type of forum, where neither of us know each other, leaves written words wide open for misinterpreting tone and intent. I hope you can extend me grace and the benefit of the doubt on this, as a brother.

    I’ve probably not given this the depth of thought it deserves, but here’s my self-analysis at a time when my body and mind are craving sleep. And these are not excuses, but contributing factors for me. (Again, I’m analyzing me, not generalizing for others.)

    For me, contributing factors include: (1) awareness and (2) an interwoven tie for second place between: capacity, prioritization and the focussed intentionality/commitment to act.

  8. Following “awareness” is the issue of capacity, prioritization and commitment to act intentionally (i.e. get involved somehow).

    It’s all related. Beyond the “awareness” challenge, I find myself frustrated that there is so much pain and injustice in the world. There are so many “causes” calling out for my attention. It can be overwhelming.

    For example, I’m surrounded by friends who have become aware of the horrors of modern day slavery (27 million world-wide, including in the USA) and human trafficking. As I’ve been exposed to it by my friends, it’s broken my heart and caused my wife and I to get involved, educate our children, etc.

    Other friends of ours are focused on clean, safe drinking water (~1 Billion people today do not have access to safe, clean drinking water).

    Others are focused on bringing healing and restoration to those broken from addiction to pornography, alcohol, narcotics, etc.

    I could go on.

    What’s my point? My wife and I have had to stay very focused and ask ourselves questions like: “Do we have the capacity to take anything else on? Given our capacity challenge, where do we put our energy and get involved?”

    We’ve had to say no to things that are truly worthy efforts. We all do this, I think, either knowingly or without realizing it.

    This is getting long (thanks for reading this far). I guess what I’m trying to say is that “I’m with you on this.”

    I regret that so many are silent on so many things, including issues of race, systemic vulnerability and division. As a society, even within the church, many are far too easily entertained (to quote C.S. Lewis, I believe) and far too easily distracted. I know there have been stages in my own life where I’ve been so.

    My prayer tonight is that more and more people break out of the “Crash” (movie reference) cycle of assumptions about each other and begin to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    God, forgive us and help us turn from apathy and stir us deep within. Show us where we can act and how to go about it. Help us understand our limits and the limits of others. YOU are our only true hope as individuals and as a nation. Help us extend the grace and love you’ve so freely given to us, long before we even recognized our need of your mercy.

    Grace, peace, power and love to you.

    1. Mark thanks for your thoughts. And, while I obviously was not singling you out individually, thanks for sharing your own response. The only thing I would add to what you have said which probably adds something for many to think about concerning what “issues” to address. Racism in America is probably America’s number one sin, it is our domestic problem, and it is uncomfortable. The effects of our racism can be seen in our churches, segregated neighborhoods and ghettos’, income and job opportunities, and for most people their social relationships as well. Sometimes I wonder if it is easier to deal with issues of poverty, famine, and natural disaster in other countries while ignoring the more personal, complex, uncomfortable, and particularly American social ill here in our own land. I would never put global issues over against domestic one’s. However, if we can not love our neighbor close, it begs us to ask what the motive is that drives us to global issues. Our ability to tackle American problems will hault perspectives from around the world that see America as hypocritical people with a savior complex. Anyway, I am thankful nonetheless that you personally have not made that dichotomy. We must prioritize our time and energy and yet always know that a “threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Thanks Mark.

  9. Perhaps when we as a people can look at horrible tragedies like this and see them as human tragedies instead of looking at the races and focusing on that, we will be more able to come together and be one people.

  10. Another horrible tragedy- Where’s the national outcry & demonstrations on this one? Like you, I wonder why all the people who normally speak so loudly against racism haven’t raised their voice about this. Instead of focus on race, let’s focus on human tragedy, the damage caused by hatred and division… let’s love and help our neighbors. Let’s come together as a people and demand that all people who hurt people,weather for selfish gain, for revenge, because they are impaired by substance abuse, or because they are simply filled with hate, be brought to justice. Let’s pay attention in our neighborhood and confront these issues before they go that far.

    Again, I’ll be honest, and share with you, my experiences when I have attempted to address hateful, racial attitudes in young people of minority race, I’ve been accused of being racist, of not acknowledging wrong…. it’s as if only one side can be wrong. What leads to a 16 year old young man setting someone on fire and thinking they deserve it because of the color of their skin? It’s racism and hatred, no matter which one is light and which one is dark.

    1. LoAna, while I appreciate your call for us to come together as one, I don’t believe that the tactic of applying “colorblind” language will benefit us here. I know it is hard for some to understand, but usually when “colorblind” agendas are implemented, black people get the short end of the stick. Studies have shown that black people with often better resumes than their white counterpart, but yet have uniquely black sounding names are less highered. Also blacks are more likely to be frisked while being less likely to be actually carrying when frisked. Black men are disproportionally affected by being shot while unarmed. So this is a systemic issue, not just a unique isolated event. Black men routinely are seen as criminals and treated as though they are dangerous and suspicious. See my post concerning my own experience. So, while I believe your comments are well intended, you must understand for us to work through this issue we can’t ignore the elephant in the room, which is that racism is alive and well in America. Just look at our neighborhoods, churches, and relationships. Most people live in neighborhoods primarily composed of people of the same race, go to churches where at least 80% or more are of the same race, and the majority of their social relationships are of the same race. We are an extremely racially divided nation, and closing our eyes to the problem and ignoring it will not make it go away. As for your last comment, I believe that all prejudice is terrible. But not all prejudice is racially systemic, in that it is not all a nation wide problem. Black men being shot and killed is. Let’s challenge ALL violence, ALL hatred, and ALL systemic injustice. Some will take us individually speaking up at the moment of offense, while others will take a galvanized mass movement.

  11. Thank you Drew. Your commentary is thoughtful and yes, provocative. As one whose faith beliefs are routed in the theology of liberation and who currently lives in the heartland of Evangelical America, your commentary gives convincing perspective in which to have the conversation with our brothers and sisters of the lighter persuasion.

  12. I’ve felt paralyzed by my sadness over this story — and the many similar experiences & stories it represents. Your post pushed me to be more vocal about it among my Christian friends. Thank you for this convicting challenge.

    1. hello, just found this surfing on the web. am saddened and angered by trayvon’s death and the response to it. am a “less-pigmented” woman who has many dear ones of color who have experienced racism and have helped open my eyes to what goes on. I just can’t believe that under this “stand your ground law” (or whatever) the cops are taking the word of this man that it was self-defense, with little or no investigation. This boy should be alive. period. His life matters to God. praying for truth and justice.

  13. Agreed. I’m writing about it on my blog tomorrow, about how it reminds me of a similar (although, thankfully, nonviolent) instance at my kids’ school a few years ago.

  14. The silence from the media, from religious leaders, from political leaders betrays the truth that we are all George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is not an aberration. He learned to fear in America. He learned that black life is expendable in America. He learned violence in America. Racism is in air and until we all begin to own our struggles, progress will be slow. Making Zimmerman a monster allows us to delude ourselves that we are fine. I have raised three black young men and I have to continue to disbelieve the lies.

    All the same, I have seen a very traditional southern town reach out and love these boys. I have seen an aging downtown church in a “transitional” neighborhood try to reach out love their neighbors. Incidents remind us of our ugliness…. of our propensity to hate rather than love. The sin of race continues to impede and challenge the most fundamental hopes and dreams of ‘America’.

  15. If there were a white preacher that could pull strings and have Mr Zimmerman arrested, convicted and sentenced–would you want that to occur within the structures of the criminal justice system?

    I think for many–this trajedy is of the same flavor as Rodney King. i.e. A tragedy that both opens the wound of centuries–and the wound that gets aggravated everyday.

    The problem–is that there is no response to the particular situation that speaks to larger reality.

    So as no white preachers are able to adequately embace and solve the historical reality–they further prove themselves to be the upholders of the status quo injustice. If we truly want a way forward–we have to be willing to let each other out of boxes–especially if we are criticiaing eath other for putting folk in boxes.

    1. How about white preachers holding this police department accountable for their half-ass police work. The shooters clothes weren’t confiscated for analysis. Don’t know if in FL they could compel Zimmerman to take a drug/alcohol test…but if they could…they should have. If they couldn’t compel him, they should have tried real hard to trick him or persuade him (w/in the law) to take the drug/alcohol test. They did neither from what I’ve read so far. That’s just standard thorough detective work. Interviews with key witnesses (such as the girl he was talking to on the phone) would have been done right away. I realize that the police dept. not doing their job is just part of the story here. But it’s a big part of the story. As a white clergy I don’t need to call for Zimmerman to be prematurely convicted…I just need to call for a thorough, aggressive, unbiased, reasonably swift investigation. The cops involved in this case didn’t want any part of that. They were just “phoning it in”. Trayvon wasn’t worth a genuine investigation. They didn’t think this case was going to get all this attention—they thought they wouldn’t be held accountable for devaluing this child’s life by not doing a thorough job and just taking Zimmerman at his word that it wasn’t murder. But due to the dogged reporting of Black media…yes it was Black media and Black radio that didn’t let this story go, their actions are being brought to the light of day. Let’s not hide behind the curtain of “we can’t call for a premature conviction” in order to negate the social imperative for ALL of us to DEMAND fair just investigations regardless of who the shooter is, and regardless of who the slain is. A jury will decide if Zimmerman is guilty or not guilty. Even if the facts that we do have at our disposal end up not being enough to convict Zimmerman under FL law, it doesn’t change the fact that this police dept. didn’t want to exert the effort to give Treyvon justice through a fair, thorough investigation. You can’t turn back the clock and get a drug/alcohol test from Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s clothes are already washed. It’s witness testimony that has been silenced forever through the actions of the police department.

      1. I didn’t mean to say that all I need to do is “call for a thorough, aggressive, unbiased, reasonably swift investigation” and that’s the end of my social responsbility. I meant that I don’t also have to call for Zimmerman’s premature conviction when I do that. I can stop short of crossing that line. Of course there’s so much to be done to heal those who have been hurt by DWB and other forms of racial profiling. There’s injustices that need to be corrected in our criminal justice system and in our law enforcement departments. We’ve got to stop the factors that lead to the outrageously high murder rates in (mostly poor) neighborhoods in our country. And very importantly, we must listen to the voices of those who see the injustice first hand through personal experience so that we can learn and join together to correct those wrongs.

  16. Whites often remain silent about issues of race and instances of racism because they can. It’s part of white privilege. I also believe that white Christians, especially those that are very conservative, will feel sad about the death of a young person like Trayvon, but will see this as an isolated incident and will have difficulty admitting that racial profiling and other forms of structural racism are still a problem. To admit this would require, for some, a complete collapse and rebuilding of their views on race and perhaps their political views as well.

    Yesterday I blogged on my own hesitation about saying too much for fear of appropriating the suffering of African Americans for my own gain. Here’s my post about it — I’d love to know what you think.

  17. I pastor a congregation of various racial components. This is Biblical. Acts 17 reminds me that we are all of one blood, so to me, skin color is a very shallow measure of a person. I despise the labels we give to people: black, white, red, brown, yellow. None of us fit those categories. I am part Indian,part Irish….what color am I? We are ALL of one blood. Skin is merely an outward appearance that has nothing to do with what’s on the inside. I do not feel guilty for being mostly Caucasian; you talk to God about what ‘color’ He gave me. There were 49 people shot in Chicago over the St. Patrick’s weekend, ten of whom died. Most were “black on black shootings,” with some “browns” mixed in. Yet, we don’t hear much about those deaths, just this one because of the racial difference. You want us to talk about this, but since we don’t know all the facts, what are we to talk about? About how guilty Zimmerman is? We don’t know that. We do know that he shot and killed Martin, but things are coming out that may indicate he truly felt threatened and indeed, was being beat by Martin. See, we don’t know all the facts, so why are we to rush to judgement and condemn him? Should we talk about the New Black Panthers putting a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head, and how Spike Lee tweeted Zimmerman’s address? Are we heading back to a lynching society? Is this really the way to handle this very sad situation? Rather than jumping off the condemation cliff, as Jesse Jackson and some of you are doing, and shouting for justice, let’s call for the facts, and then reconciliation. Let’s find out what really happened and go from there.

    1. Well, if you read my post, you would notice that my emphasis is on the need for an arrest. I surely didn’t call for a lynchng, so I am not responsible for every fringe black perspective that exists. The reality is that most black people have been calling for a thorough investigation and would like to see an arrest made, so that the courts can decide his guilt or innocence. As for the often black on black crime that takes place, there actually is a lot of speaking out against that senseless violence by black urban pastors, it’s just that those things don’t get mainstream news attention. I am actually starting a PhD program this fall doing theology/ethics, and I plan to be addressing gun violence in the black community as part of my research. You are trying to lump me into a stereotype that doesn’t work.

      The reality is that Zimmerman followed Trayvon. If anything, Trayvon is the one who should be covered by the stand your ground law, not Zimmerman. We know for fact that Zimmerman had displayed a pattern of calling 911 on black males in his neighborhood including someone between the ages of 7 and 9. If Zimmerman did what he should have in his participation in his Neighborhood Watch, which is WATCH not pursue and confront, none of this would have happened. Why shouldn’t this be tried in court? There is more than probable cause for arrest.

      It’s interesting you mention a lynching society? It was black males who were most often the victims of lynching, lynching was racialized. Just because we don’t like racial labels doesn’t take away the fact that racism happens and we need to define what is happening. I can’t understand how America’s dominant culture created racial lines, enslaved by race, raped by race, deemed folks inferior by race, segregated churches by race, created black codes and Jim Crow laws by race, lynched by race, moved out of neighborhoods by race, and discriminated and denied access by race, and then conveniently whenever people call it out everyone wants a colorblind approach. If we are going to move forward as a human race, then at some point we will have to dismantle the racialized way America has been set up. So long as their is a racialized society in America I will continue to talk about race. Stats are clear, America continues to be a very racially divided country that still continues to be deeply affected by the active continuation of racism and the residue of slavery. If you can find any quote of mine calling for violence, please point it out to me. Otherwise, allow me to speak for myself and not for the whole black race. Discussion is good if we actually listen to what the other is saying, it doesn’t work if we impose someone else’s thoughts on to random black people and then act like they made those statements themselves.

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