Today I am honored to be part of an incredible project over at Shalom in the City, along with Idelette McVicker. Osheta Moore, one of my Story Sisters, has been hosting a week-long series, Standing Our Ground… In Prayer, in response to the killing of Jordan Davis, a black teenager who was shot three times for playing music too loud in his car. He was unarmed. (The shooter, Michael Dunn, claims he saw something that looked like a weapon in the vehicle. A mistrial was declared this month on the charge of first-degree murder, as the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.)
Self-defense laws are certainly important to our justice system, but it seems like we’ve had a wave of killings lately that are wholly or partially excused on the basis of “stand your ground” laws or similar legislation. I am not a legal expert and I was not a member of any of these courts, but it sure seems like a kid shouldn’t be shot for playing music with his friends or wearing a hoodie. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their sons for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time — or for having the wrong skin color. You cannot ignore the racial implications of Jordan’s “thug” music or Trayvon Martin’s “thug” hoodie. And that is wrong, and that is heartbreaking, and that must change.
I don’t have any idea where to start addressing a problem like this, a problem mangled in the intersection of racism and injustice. How do we heal such old, old prejudices? How do we heal the grief? Osheta has wisely started simply — and powerfully — by calling the people to prayer. The invocations and lamentations this week have been holy and heartbreaking, and I’d recommend taking the time to read and reflect.
From Idelette’s White Tears of Lament:
How come so many of us shrug our responsibility
For the tragedies and the
The bloodlines that run straight from our oppression
to these boys lying dead on the streets? …
Open our hearts,
Flood the dry land with our tears
Wash the blood from our hands
And heal our history.