The killing of Trayvon Martin, a unarmed African-American kid in Florida, is an astounding tragedy, illustrating the fact that African Americans are assumed to be more dangerous, simply because of the color of their skin. Racism is a deep-rooted sin. I learned it myself, as I was growing up, and I am still learning to recognize racism (and all sin) in myself, so that God-in-me might transform my faults into wisdom and love.
Tragedies like this speak to the need for safe spaces in our communities, where people of all colors, economic backgrounds, genders, physical abilities, mental abilities, sexual orientations, and countries can come together in peace and joy. My church in Star, Wesleyanna United Methodist, welcomes folks of all races to play on its tennis/basketball court, and I happy that we’ve continued to welcome African-American youth and young adults, despite some mild obstacles. African Americans continue to be made to feel unwelcome in some public and private spaces, and Christians of all colors are called to break down barriers and create relationships across all boundaries, without erasing differences. Diversity is celebrated by God, and Christians are called to celebrate diversity as well, working toward harmony instead of monotony.
Our basketball court has been a safe space for people to play outside, relax with friends, exercise, and benefit from the camaraderie of team sports. It is one small step in our walk toward the kingdom-household of God.
Below is a video of President Obama commenting on Trayvon’s killing, in which he takes a personal approach. I’m sure that African-American parents, and hopefully all parents and all people, have a heavy heart during this time.
The original article I read (but for some reason I couldn’t figure out how to embed the video): Obama Says ‘If I Had a Son, He’d Look Like Trayvon’ – NYTimes.com.
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Yes to safe spaces and yes to justice. I hope there is some way for reconciliation after this. What is so twisted about this story is that Trayvon’s killer did not feel safe and so he used terribly excessive force to eradicate his fear. In doing so the killer has further contributed to a culture of fear. Blech.