How does one preach of the body today? The body matters stills. In light of last nights verdict the body matters all the more. This mortal coil containing the hopes, dreams, and life-force of a black teenaged boy. A boy walking home from the store when dominance appears. The body matters. If nothing else is said this morning I want you to hear that the body matters.
Because the body matters, we failed last night. Justice escaped the lips of 6 women charged with returning justice to the lifeless body of Ms. Martin’s son. This nations collective breath held. Some rejoice, claiming that justice was served. That standing ones ground is necessary to prevent thugs from overtaking your hard-earned possessions. Others exist, restless and afraid. The veil of safety has been removed. Gone is the air of equality.
Post-racial America? Hardly. We are not anywhere close to that ideal.
Today is not a day for silly antidotes, light-hearted humor, or pointing to the heavens proclaiming justice is on its way. Justice has failed. Justice, if she was ever blind, failed to see the injustice of the death of a black teenage boy at the hands of a grown man.
I want to comfort you. I want to be a good pastor and deliver a rousing sermon of comfort, peace, and divine wisdom. I cannot. Not today. Perhaps next week. Next week I promise I will pray, fast, and beg God for justice and then I can bring it here. Today I shamefully don my privilege.
I am afraid. I am filled with emotions that I both feel shameful of and gratitude. I do not have to justify my presence to authorities. I do not have to qualify my anger or frustration towards injustice. I can walk away from this matter, put my head in the sand and not be bothered by it. I am free to wander this earth and look for meaning. I can do this because I do not have to worry about survival.
Last night my timeline blew up. The first one was, “WOW!” The next was, “Disbelief, I thought he’d at least het manslaughter.” I searched out People of Color to listen to and found a seemingly never ending stream of voice after voice expressing anger, hurt, frustration, exhaustion, and hopelessness. One twitter commentator said, “I don’t hate white people. I don’t hate George Zimmerman either. It’s not that suddenly we all hate. It’s that suddenly none of us feel safe. That is what the verdict did. It took away the luxury of being able to feel safe.”
My largely white, liberal circle blew up with emotions. Guilt. Shame. Disgust. Then the “I am Trayvon campaign rolled out again. People posting pictures of hoodies or Trayvon with the words, “I am Trayvon” across them. It is intended as a symbol of solidarity. A symbol stating that we are outraged along with you, Black America.
Today, right now it serves to silent black voices and coopt the pain and fear that rests heavy upon the hearts and minds of Black America. We will never be the same. The US has to change. Right now, today I pray we feel the pain, the anger, the hurt, and the fear. I pray that there is capacity of the liberal, progressive white America to hold on, chill, and pause. Ms. Martin’s son was denied justice. Black America just received another reminder that the justice system we are all subject to does not include them. The justice system is rooted in the racism, segregated past of this Nation. I’m not Trayvon Martin. I’m part of the problem. I’m part of the dominant culture that oppresses & binds others to injustice for my benefit. It is terrifying to be here today. I honestly pondered the thought of quitting. I want to run away and hide. I worry about what confronting the pain in your eyes will do to me. See I make it about me. If it is about me I can dismiss it or seek to mitigate the injustice. This is privilege. The same privilege that killed Trayvon & found his killer not guilty is the same privilege that would allow me to quit and walk away.
There are at least two United States. There are two kingdoms. These boundaries are clear as day. Those in the power like to define the conversation as a have and have not. The power likes to deny the tined color bias that segregates the nation in to “US” and “THEM.” US gets to define the rules and cries foul when THEM gets nearer to justice.
Outside of this I have nothing. Talking about the body seems inappropriate today. But it matters. The body matters.