Last night was a tragic night in the ongoing struggle for racial justice in our beloved country. The acquittal of George Zimmerman, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, left many beyond articulation but clear in emotions of outrage, despair & sadness. For many in the community of color, fear. For many in the dominant culture, shame. Since last night, texts, facebook messages, tweets and emails have poured in, each providing one more piece of trying to put words to this point of time in our journey. Some focus on the jury - how could it be allowed? A jury that was nearly all-white? Others on the racism inherent in the entire incident, recalling that it took a nationwide protest to get the shooter arrested at all? Others still, mostly all of color, register their lack of surprise, noting on the arc of their own lived experience this stands as simply one more piece of being targeted, harmed and harmed again by an unjust system. And yet. And yet, those are also the voices of hope that call us all to the work of understanding racism as something so embedded in our dominant culture it can lead to none other than fear-based laws like 'stand-your-ground,' profiling people who are 'other' and a justice system that benefits financially from the continued incarceration of people of color and at the same time provides a different level of justice for the same population. From an accurate analysis of our system, this is exactly the verdict we should expect. And yet. And yet, those among us who on this night will worry until their young are back home, worry as they drive their cars through upscale neighborhoods and see flashing blue lights approaching, note with dismay the extra attention inside of the retail store, wonder --- what of this do I share with my child tonight? ............................ they lead us with strength of purpose and hope, to say, the work continues. For those of you who are most impacted by this event because you are a member of the community of color, or other at-risk identity group, I offer my prayers and sorrow that our world is not yet the world we profess to seek as a people of conscience and faith. I pledge to you that my head, heart and hands will not waiver in the journey. For those of you, who like me, live within the privilege of the dominant Euro-American white culture, I applaud the efforts of those who are already well on the journey of understanding how 'white privilege' operates in our daily lives and societal systems and invite you in to an intentional expansion of our efforts to educate ourselves, each other toward the end of working in effective, increasingly powerful and dear creation, I pray, transformational work.
And with gratitude to a dear friend from Atlanta, I offer the reminder that anger toward the shooter, the lawyers and/or the jury, feed the less-best-selves within us and our task is so grand, we need our whole spirits engaged on the promise of a better tomorrow. Let our prayer of today be a re-commitment to a future in which we share equally the justice so many of us take for granted.
Yours on the journey ~
Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo