Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why I Chose To Tell My Kids About Trayvon

I, like so many other Americans, get my news online. So I am personally my kids' filter for what news they know about and don't, which, given their ages, isn't much.

But my boys can now tell you who Trayvon Martin is.

Unless you're totally unconnected from any news source, I'm sure you know who I'm talking about. He is the black teenager who was recently gunned down as he walked unarmed through a neighborhood for what more and more evidence suggests was purely racial profiling. And kicker is that his killer was never taken into custody.

So why would I tell my 8 and 9 year old boys this story?

Next to my faith, racism makes my short list for things I feel especially passionate about. Part of this is the fact that I was raised by strongly anti-racist parents, but the biggest reason is that is what racism says about God. When we judge by their skin color, we're judging the beautiful and wonderfully diverse design of a perfect creator. God is too big, wonderful, and multi-faceted to have confined his designs to one skin color. Then He commands us to love one another. No exclusions. And to top it off, our Savior shed His own blood to adopt us into His family. Every color.

And the only way that my white boys (and all my children), whose day to day lives don't include racial profiling, are going to know about this truth is from the mouths of their parents. 

From a young age, my kid's friends have been many different colors, and race didn't seem to even cross their minds. While they were young, we kept it simple with comments like, "Isn't it great that God made us with so many different hair, skin, and eye colors!"  Once while in grocery store with my then 3 year-old Adriana we walked by a woman with a large afro. Adriana caught her breath, "Mom, she's SO beautiful!" I love the eyes of a child. "Yes, baby, yes she is."

Then there was history class. As we sat one morning on the couch during 1st and 2nd grade, Isaiah and Elijah learned for the first time about slavery. Their raw shock and horror was precious and heart-breaking all rolled into one. Isaiah's best friend at the time was from Ethiopia. And Isaiah tried to take it all in, "You mean just because of their skin color?!? You mean Fikadu would be a slave!?!" It was perfect opportunity to stop and talk about the horror of racism. We went on to read about Hitler and so many other atrocities that our human history has to hold.

Since then we've had many other conversations about racism. As I told them the story of what happened to Trayvon, their first reaction was grief. And then as went on to say that the police did not take the killer to jail, Isaiah's jaw literally dropped.

And you know what? That's exactly what I wanted. I want their responses to racism to be shock and horror. It's a God-honoring response. We talked about what we they should do if someone was being racist to someone in front of them.

I'll say it again, if we as their parents don't talk to them, they are left to hear the voices of our culture. We must not be silent. We MUST NOT! In the same way that my dad had a serious talk with his teenage daughters to make sure that we would be open to marrying a man of any other color, we as parents must delight our children with the beauty of different cultures and race; and we must help teach them to reel back in horror when those made in God's image are hated for the way they were created. Racism is alive and well whether you personally deal with it or not.  And I will not sit by. If we keep this a taboo issue or pretend that our kids are just going to be colorblind, if don't talk to our children about this, we're setting up the next generation to judge and hate each other.

You can listen to a much wiser man than I who write about this issue HERE.


  1. So tell me something. This post started because you agree with many other people who feel like this incident is racism. But I must ask you, where is the proof? I've had many interesting conversations with whom I and many others would consider wise individuals, and they all agree with one point. The only people who know if it was racism are the shooter and the authorities who showed up on site. We all can point fingers and accuse the man and the authorities of being racist; but sadly we have no proof. I do agree that racism is a possible cause of this incident, but we must consider other causes. What if the shooter hated teenagers? He could have shot for that reason. What if he accidentally shot? What if (and don't rule this out, because we have no concrete proof saying otherwise) he shot because the teenager was attacking him? Now this is a tragedy through and through. It is a horrible and grieving thought when we here of anyone who has lost there life. We wonder if it is true that the man was being attacked, could he not have injured the boy instead of killed him? But we have no proof of what the situation was exactly like. So this goes for me to point out that Scripture clearly tells us not judge others. Since we have no proof that the man or the authorities were being racist, then we should not accuse them until we have proof. And unfortunately the only proof would be them admitting to being racist and acting out due to racism. We can point out things in the man's life, how he was not a good man and how he overestimated danger. Remember though the teenager was not perfect. All the pictures you see show him when he was 2-3 years younger. He recently was suspended for marijuana charges. Both of them were human beings. Both of them were sinners. What motives behind what happened that night are unknown. But I have come to the conclusion that God would not want me to judge or accuse anyone of a sin that I was not sure they were committing. I also encourage you not to judge and accuse, nor promote others to do the same. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5

  2. Thanks for your thoughts. My main point was to try to encourage other parents to speak to their children about racism.
    I wasn't (and didn't as I reread my post) try to make it seem like I knew what happened. However we do know that a man shot someone and was never taken into custody not even to review the evidence. I never thought that Trayvon was a saint, but it is indisputable that was killed and the man who shot him was let go.
    I do believe that there was racism was involved. I didn't, however, just rush to this judgment until I heard more about it. Here are a couple other facts about what happened:

  3. Yes, I've seen that conversation in one of the things I read about the case. However that only shows that what he said was racist, it doesn't prove that he shot the teenager due to his race. Once again you said you believe it was a racist killing, but "you believe" you actually don't know. As I said, only the man knows whether or not he shot because of the teenager's skin color. We can't prove it. And if we can't be positive, then we should not accuse. It very well seems like it could have been due to racism, but it is not our place to judge or point fingers. God is just and we must leave it to Him. He knows the man's heart, not us.


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