Trayvon: Why It Matters

My friend Bruce, who’s now at Georgetown Law (where they’re doing a “Wear a Hoodie to Law School” Day today), shared this on Facebook and graciously allowed me to repost it. He said, “I think it’s important that people realize that this isn’t a public trial of [George] Zimmerman, but a response to another example of an ongoing human rights issue in America.”‎

“It’s a good thing you didn’t move. Because my firearm was pointed right at your head and I would have shot you first.”

These words were spoken to me by a Moreno Valley police officer seven years ago, after a racial profiling incident that could have left me dead. After graduating US Air Force Academy and receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant, I was showing off my brand new convertible in a parking lot, at night, to my gear head friends Peter and Anh.

As we began to leave the lot, four police cars suddenly appeared. The officers surrounded my car and drew their weapons, pointing them squarely at my face.

Terrified, I did exactly what they said. The standoff ensued for a few minutes before cooler heads prevailed.

“Do you have any weapons on you?” one of them asked me before opening the car door and leading me out.

“Of course not, why would we have any weapons?” I asked.

“We had reports of shots fired,” one police officer quipped. “This car meets the description of the vehicle in the report.” My car was a Honda S2000, a fairly uncommon car in the area, especially in 2005.

Then the ringleader of the group said the words that I will never forget: “I would have shot you first.”

What did I do? Nothing. I endured a few jokes about racing my car and listened to the ringleader tell me that his son considering the Air Force Academy. I could have reported them for excessive use of force. But I didn’t.

I thought, “Why bother? It won’t change anything and it will just make waves for my career.” And now a kid is dead because of the same racist mindset that almost resulted in my death seven years ago.

Don’t let yourself be confused into thinking this is about the truth about what happened between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. This is about senseless racial profiling that has for years resulted in dead black men with zero accountability for their white killers.

I’m wearing a hoodie today to highlight this issue, not to cast judgement about the facts of the Martin case, which I know are few and far between. I’m wearing a hoodie because we have a system in America that allows people to be harassed, threatened, and even killed, without justification–because someone thought black was a dangerous color.

Stories like Bruce’s are also why I’m wearing a hoodie.

Remembering Óscar Romero

Thirty years ago, on March 24, 1980, Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, human rights activist, advocate for the poor and the victims of the Salvadoran civil war, was assassinated as he closed his homily during Mass.

I have these words of his written in my journal to serve as a reminder and encouragement to be faithful to what God has called me to:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

MLK Day 2010: Barack Obama's sermon

Yesterday, to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (today), President Obama spoke at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, where MLK himself had spoken some fifty years before.


We gather here, on a Sabbath, during a time of profound difficulty for our nation and for our world. In such a time, it soothes the soul to seek out the Divine in a spirit of prayer; to seek solace among a community of believers. But we are not here just to ask the Lord for His blessing. We aren’t here just to interpret His Scripture. We’re also here to call on the memory of one of His noble servants, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even as Dr. King stood in this church, a victory in the past and uncertainty in the future, he trusted God. He trusted that God would make a way. A way for prayers to be answered. A way for our union to be perfected. A way for the arc of the moral universe, no matter how long, to slowly bend towards truth and bend towards freedom, to bend towards justice. He had faith that God would make a way out of no way.

So let us hold fast to that faith, as Joshua held fast to the faith of his fathers, and together, we shall overcome the challenges of a new age. Together, we shall seize the promise of this moment. Together, we shall make a way through winter, and we’re going to welcome the spring. Through God all things are possible.

Links of the Day, November 16

Happy Monday!!

Courtesy of Liz:
Available here.


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