The Womb, The Streets and The Church
The violent death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has gained the attention of media outlets and concerned citizens. Trayvon who was 17, sadly lost his life at the hands of George Zimmerman in Florida on the night of February 26, 2012. Trayvon was unarmed and Zimmerman was not.
This story of a young African American man losing his life to an act of violence is not strange news to our country. The outrage that is rightly felt by his parents and relatives is not some type of new emotion as thousands of mothers have screamed over the loss of their child. That is right. In our inner cities, thousands of Rachels have mourned the loss of their sons due to violent crimes. We should not only be outraged at the death of Trayvon, we should be outraged at the fact that “94% of black homicides both victim and assailant are black.” [i]
We must sit in that for a few moments. While Trayvon’s death was tragic because he was unarmed and he was a minor, we should be outraged that his death is a blip on a larger and more devastating problem of black men killing each other. There will be another black man killed this week, this month and this year. He will have the beauty of his God given life, power and creativity extinguished by the hands of one whose complexion and inner design is strikingly similar to his.
Will there be outrage though? When the next young African American man is killed by an act of senseless violence, will Jane Velez Mitchell dedicate a week of her show to that man? Will that young man’s story be told across the printed press of USA Today, LA Times or the Democrat Gazette? Will the Justice Department dedicate man hours towards investigation? Will we upon hearing the news, pick up our phones, tweeting and Facebooking our outrage?
Or will we shrug our shoulders?
The homicide of Trayvon and thousands like him is similar to another violent act that occurs not on our city streets, but in the wombs of African American women. African Americans are close to 30% of the abortions that occur in our nation while we are 13% of the population. Abortion which has been framed as woman’s issue and most recently a contraceptive issue, is in all reality an issue of how we view the dignity of a human.
There is very little outrage concerning the violence that is committed to African American children in the womb. The discussion has moved from one of life to one of convenience in regards to persons who have successfully convinced our nation that utilitarianism is greater than human dignity. We have moved to this position today because we have determined as a people implicitly and explicitly, that life is not the gift of God but a disposable product that can be discarded because it impedes our plans or threatens our comfort.
This is why Trayvon and thousands like him have experienced violence on the streets.
This is why millions of nameless children have experienced violence in the womb.
Their blood cries out from the streets and blood soaked front lawns of our communities. Their voices groan from incinerators, bio-hazardous bags and dumpsters.
So where will the outrage come from? It must come from the one institution that has the foundational understanding of the preciousness of life and its eternal character. The local church that is present in the African American community must move to radically teach and live out a Good News that is addressing the sins of the community. The local church must embrace the cries of these victims of violence and suffer with them because we are Christ in this world.
The Exodus narrative understood by our grandparents must now be understood in a new way. New pharaohs exist in our own community with names such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent and B.E.T. who seek to keep their own people under the burden of violence, misogyny and materialism. Their examples have led to the continual enslavement of a people and the fattening of their own coffers. A new task master exists in our community today as Planned Parenthood under the guise of reproductive rights facilitates millions of boys and girls being thrown into the river Nile and their facilitation continues to be profitable.
It is this context into which the local church must speak. The local church that resides in the African American Community must have the courage to be the prophet sent by God to declare freedom in Christ to men captive to senseless violence and the warning of judgment on those who refuse to submit to God's kingdom. The local church is to be the visible and tangible Word that has become flesh, who is willing to accomplish great works provoking people to say, "God is with us!"
In the shadow of God’s kingdom and the presence of his Church, violence is not an option in the womb or on the streets. We will serve Trayvon and the unborn best when we as a people determine their deaths are not the next cool issue to grab on to for a fleeting moment. We will honor their humanity and the God in whose likeness they were created when we embrace their pain and we challenge the pharoahs and taskmasters of today with power of a resurrected life.
[i] Anthony Bradley, editor, Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, & The Cosby Conservation, Crossway: Illinois, 2012.