The Common Good

Is Lamb to the Slaughter the Best We've Got?

Photo by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images
Many children, many wearing hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon Martin march together. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

I don't want to say too much. I don't want to over-explain. I know that leaves lots of room for misinterpretation. I just want to ask you to wrestle with a few questions.

I was asked last week what my greatest fear as a father of a black boy is in light of the Trayvon Martin murder. My greatest fear for my children is the cautious regret I see on the many faces that can’t help but leave open the possibility there may be some justification for this tragedy. Rest assured George Zimmerman and his supporters will exploit this deep-seated immutable suspicion, just like Susan Smith did so many years ago.

Now that they are beginning to, even knowing the uncontested facts of the incident, some of the most compassionate people I know will find it disqualifying that a black young man being stalked by a belligerent stranger, when accosted, would turn to defend himself. For them, the only conceivable defense Trayvon can have is to have taken his bullet as a lamb to the slaughter. How is this possible?

"Jesus paid it all," did he not? So why is it that some of us—let’s be honest, it’s only some of us—are expected to meet our premature demise so meekly and mildly, as if injustice is never supposed to end?  Was it James Russell Lowell or God who wrote, "Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne?" From whom are we taking our cues and deriving our sense of acceptable and unacceptable?

Melvin Bray is one of the hosts of the up-coming Children,Youth and a New Kind of Christianity conference (7-10 May 2012) as well as the Wild Goose Festival (21-24 June 2012).  He's the father of three, a lover of all, yet can't help but also be an angry black man of late.





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