What I Want To Say About Trayvon

I often remain silent when there are big issues going on in the world because I don’t feel that they are always a good fit for my blog, or they’re not my story to tell, or I just don’t want to deal with the fallout and prefer to keep things light. But I can’t be silent about this one.

I admit that I haven’t paid much attention to the Trayvon case. I heard about the incident at the time, and I read posts conveying outrage and hurt among some of my friends and colleagues who are mothers of black sons. My heart broke for them, but as time went on, I admit I didn’t give the situation a lot of thought. I realize that is quite telling of my concern (or lack thereof) about the race issue in our country. That alone is shameful, but there’s more on my mind tonight.

It wasn’t until I was at a neighborhood party on Saturday night and someone brought up the verdict that I realized the case was going to trial this week.

As the verdict came down, Facebook exploded with updates, and I got sucked in as it is so easy to do.

What shocked and confused me, though, was how the comments were so divided — not only divided down racial lines, but also divided along conservative/liberal lines.

Over the past few days, I have read a lot of blog posts and Facebook status updates that range from outrage about the verdict, to feelings of hurt and betrayal, to defense of our justice system and George Zimmerman, to criticisms of those who would dare protest or suggest that it might not be fair.

I still don’t have a strong opinion about whether or not I think the verdict is right. I admit that I haven’t spent the time to educate myself on the details from an objective source (as if such a thing exists) because that isn’t what is so bothersome about this turn of events.

What is disturbing me is that there are loving mothers in my neighborhood, in my church, in my kids’ school and in my professional circles who send their children out every day and they fear for them. They know that because of the color of their skin, they may not be treated fairly. They fear that if their sons happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong clothes, they may come to harm even if they are doing nothing wrong.

These moms teach their kids that because of the color of their skin, they have to be better, do better, always proving that they are worthy of the privileges the rest of us take for granted — simply because of the color of their skin. (I had a friend tell me once this is what her mother taught her.)

I have never had these concerns for my kids because my children are white.

Whether or not Trayvon Martin incited the situation, I have no idea. Whether George Zimmerman was looking for trouble or over-reacting, I have no idea. Whether or not the prosecution did their job well, whether or not the jurors were biased, and whatever other issues of controversy are surrounding this situation — I am not debating any of that.

Maybe I should be, but I’m not interested in those issues tonight.

Tonight I am heartbroken for the moms around our country who are feeling hurt, confused, angry and betrayed by our justice system — and worse, betrayed by their friends who do not try to understand.

Again, it’s not about which side of the Trayvon case we are on. Everyone is entitled to her opinion.

It’s about the lack of compassion for those who are hurting, the lack of effort to understand the other side, the lack of any attempt to commiserate, to ask why, to reach across racial and party lines to try to understand.

I may not always do or say the right thing, I may be silent when I should speak up, I may express sympathy when I should ask questions, and I may jump to conclusions based on the unexpected feelings of prejudice that lurk beneath my friendly facade. I am not claiming to be color blind.

But I do want to stand up and say this to my friends who are hurting tonight because of the Trayvon verdict:

I hear you. I care. I want to understand. I validate your feelings, and I’m sorry you are hurting. 

We have come such a long way in this country, but we still have far to go.