I am not Trayvon Martin. I’m a fifty-one year old white woman who teaches high school in LA (that’s me dressing up for Retro Day). I have students who could have lost their lives this way. Students who have been belittled and marginalized because of the way they look and where they live. Students who regularly have to deal with racism — subtle and overt every single day. And every day at my school we work together to raise ourselves up, to reinforce in each other a sense of self-respect, hope for the future, a sense of connection to community. And then things like this happen. And I’m just not sure how we move forward, how I can help. How I can reassure young black men - and all my students — that their lives matter, that they have wide open futures, that they live in world that values who they are.
There is a Buddhist lineage called Shambhala, which I study; in this tradition, the time we are living in is known as the Dark Age – an age in which aggression, materialism, and ignorance abound. However, this is also a time in which the seeds of great change can be planted. A time in which Basic Goodness of humanity can be awakened so that we can create a society based on compassion and kindness.
I wish I could say something to the Martin family that would ease their pain. I am grateful for this opportunity to give them my condolences and to reach out to other people across the country who are as pained as I am about this young man’s death.
I am going to talk to my students about Trayvon’s death when schools starts in August. How that conversation will go, I can’t begin to guess. But it is a conversation that has to happen, and it has to keep happening all over our country.
A friend posted this from a friend’s blog (www.calvinsstory.com
). It is from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In it, Atticus Finch, a lawyer, speaks to his son, Jem, about the jury’s conviction of a young African America man who has just been found guilty of a crime he did not commit:
"Atticus—" said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway. “What, son?"
"How could they do it, how could they?"
"I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it—seems that only children weep. Good night.Our tears can water the seeds of change.