By TRACEY MICHAE’L LEWIS-GIGGETTS
My faith says that race doesn’t matter.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
But it does.
But it does.
On the one hand, we are human. We’ll all bleed, if cut. Oxygen functions the same way in my lungs as it does the next person. And yet when I see two mothers like the ones up top (Sabrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin and Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis), embracing each other because they both share the horrific experience of having their sons shot down like animals, it makes my God-given “mommy gland” palpitate with a kind of rage. My heart lurches.
And I got to believe that the sense of solidarity I feel with these women, as a mother who cannot and does not want to imagine such overwhelming pain and loss, has to also be God-given.
There are those in the Christian community who would suggest that I remain neutral on the subject. Just pray and keep my “pen” out of the discussion. They fear that my faith will be compromised by my emotion. Because of course, the fact that I’m also a Black mother means that I cannot possibly see the issue clearly or have anything meaningful to say about it, right?
Here’s the thing: there is nothing neutral about what these mothers have to live with and who they have to live without. There is only the side of right. And that’s the side my faith and my emotions are on.
What happened to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and their families, goes well beyond the circumstances of those individual cases. It speaks to a larger, deeply-rooted problem. We are harvesting the seeds of hatred that were planted long ago. Seeds that say black children, black boys in particular, are only useful as caricatures—“super cute” when watched on Disney Jr. from the presumed safety of an otherwise colorless existence or “super cool” to dance to at suburban birthday parties. Anything that presumes that they are flesh-and-blood children of the Creator who deserves life as much as the rest of us—feels weird to some.
And it’s not always a conscious thing, I don’t think. That weirdness often just shows up as, “Oh well, he shouldn’t have had his music up or mouthed off or been walking by himself or…” any number of defenses of the murderers.
Truth: My daughter will likely be stereotyped, categorized and profiled in ways that a white girl her same age never would and long before she ever gets a chance to define who she is and who she wants to be, good or bad.
Oh and based on recent events, I should add “shot” to that list. Especially if she knocks on a random door to ask for help, like Renisha McBride.
Help us, Lord.
This is how I know these mothers are my sisters. They are only different from me in one terribly tragic way.
And I want to scream when some folks try to use MY faith to justify the actions of these bootleg vigilantes. You know, folks like this.
See, the Jesus I know would not have gotten out of his car to confront some kid on his way from the store. The Jesus I know would have cared more about the state of the hearts of the kids parked at a gas station than the sound in their speakers. How do I know this? Because this Jesus was the same one who, unlike others, valued the life of a Samaritan woman (look up how the Samaritans were treated by the Jews) and saw her to be just as worthy of the living water (life) and grace he had to offer.
So for my friends in the faith who can somehow “see” how these tragedies happened, I ask: Would they have ever happened if these men approached both scenarios with a value for these boys’ lives and an extension of grace?
No? Then I rest my case. There is nothing righteous or defensible there. Stop looking for it.
But I have to tell you where I desperately struggle. I struggle with what I know ULTIMATELY these mothers and the rest of us must do. What I know God calls us to do.
Love my enemies. Conquer hate with love. Hate is the result of fear and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Oh, those challenging tenets of my faith.
Trust. I’m absolutely an advocate for legal and social justice. The core of Jesus’ message to the world I believe He came to save is that the caring for those who are spiritually poor and who are socially poor—social justice being a component of the latter—is how the love of God is spread. But I also have to believe that, for the wickedness that lies within these trigger-happy imbeciles, knowing that I will not allow myself to stew in my rage until it turns to hate and therefore never allow evil to bring me down to its level, is its own kind of justice. The most righteous of them all.
Sure, that doesn’t satisfy the angst in my heart (and I suspect, the pain in Ms. Fulton and Ms. McBath’s) but it’s something, right?
This post is the latest in Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Faith & Motherhood” series.
[Editor’s Note: the photo of Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath, the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis respectively, are from the R.I.P. Jordan Davis Facebook page.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.
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