Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 19, 2013

JACKIE DAVIS: A time for civil discourse

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — This is a story I did not want to write. This is a situation I wish had never happened. It is heart-breaking, and far too close to home for me. I look into the beautiful ebony eyes of Trayvon Martin, donned in a snowy white hooded sweatshirt, and I am instantly stabbed with the painful reality — there but by the grace of God go any one of my four, fine, excellent sons.

When I ponder this devastating loss of life I ask, how many times did my children walk or ride their bikes to our local 7-Eleven for Slurpies or treats? How many summers of “National 7-Eleven Day” did they enjoy on July 11 when Slurpies were free? As they grew through the teen years into young adulthood, how many nights did I prayerfully release them to go, spread their wings and fly into a world that might hurt them? How many times did I kiss them “good-bye” with the reminders, “Make wise and Godly decisions” and “Be safe”? No one could have ever known that Trayvon’s trip to the 7 Eleven would be his last, on that Florida night.

I dry my tears as I write this. I pray for, and feel for Trayvon’s parents who have shown such dignity, courage and grace — especially now in the face of a “not guilty” verdict for the man who shot their son. I commend those Florida people of faith who chose to unite in prayer before, during, and after this difficult trial, calling for peace and for civil discourse. 

I rebuke that “anonymous juror” who sought to capitalize on Trayvon’s death by accepting a book deal. (I found her interview too deplorable to finish watching.) I am certainly glad that her book deal has been revoked. Zimmerman may have been found ‘not guilty,’ but he is certainly ‘not free’ to return to his prior life.

The trial is over, and yet so many questions remain. If the authorities are not allowed to racially profile a suspect, can a private citizen? Wouldn’t any kid have been frightened by a grown man following them home on a dark night? Didn’t Trayvon have a right to confront his potential assailant, for following him for no apparent reason? How many kids would have had the courage to do so? What about Trayvon’s civil rights? How can a juror say “race was not a factor” when Zimmerman was looking for a black suspect? Doesn’t Zimmerman bear any responsibility for taking the law into his own hands?

Now is the time for civil discourse. Problems of race aren’t solved by denying their existence. In a recent interview on CNN, Dr. Robert Franklin, former president of Morehouse College said, “We all have to grow beyond seeing stereotypes, profiles and caricatures” and like Dr. King’s moral emphasis, begin to “respect every person as a child of God.”

In that same interview, Tim Wise the (white) author of “Dear White America” said, “Part of the problem of racism in this country is ... denial. When you are in denial that a problem exists, you can’t solve it … when we are open and honest about our racialized fears, we actually do a pretty good job of keeping them in check.”

If this trial leads to civil discourse, greater racial harmony and positive change, then Trayvon Martin’s death will not have been in vain.

Jackie Davis is an Inspirational Vocalist, Musician and Speaker with over twenty years of television broadcast experience. Her column appears on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month. You can contact her at jjd.22344@yahoo.com.