I’m a non-professional blogger and my corner of the blogosphere is growing but I think is usually seen by, I assume, my group of Friends from Facebook. My strength as a writer has grown over the past two-plus years, and I have come to believe that my opinion matters as much as the next person’s. But something weird happened a few days ago. After a bad day at work, I tried to remember what was important about what I knew as a therapist. I wrote like I always do, but this time I wrote about Travon Martin. Within 20 minutes, I had 11 hits. Within 2 hours, before I went to bed, I had nearly 30. “Wow”, I thought, “my friends must be up late tonight”. It is now about 48 hours later and my blog has three hundred and fifty hits and no comments but someone trying to sell a song about him, I think. The highest amount of readers ever for one of my articles — and it took a few months ! — was about 100 hits. The last time I had a big day, I think it was about 150 hits about a variety of things — a great day for me.
But the last two days have not been great days for me — those look like controversy or support in the comments section. I never see those coming either, but I know them when they happen. This is not about me. This great day, these 350 hits — is about the subject of the article — Travon Martin — and there is no controversy. I went to church this morning and heard a sermon about it as tragedy and heard the pastor struggle with making meaning of it all. I got home tonight and another friend published his sermon about Travon Martin. He also acknowledged it was a tragedy. He also used his faith to struggle to make meaning of it all. Online, friends were taking pictures with hoodies. In the news, there was the hoodie march. Even the politicians got it right. President Obama said exactly the right thing in support of the parents Even Newt Gingrich, while making political hay, said that it was a tragedy. Obama’s folks fired back about politics, but the fact is even white people on the far right know that what happened to Travon shouldn’t have happened. The phrase “he’s black” and “I feel threatened” should never be used in the same sentence without further proof or without logic. We all know this. Even if there are extenuating circumstances, it doesn’t matter. We all agree that shooting someone, just because of the color of their skin, is wrong. We, as a nation, haven’t agreed on anything for at least the last 3 years and probably not before that. We agree on this. Parents of any child who wears a hoodie realize that it could be their child. Parents of white kids know this is wrong and they stand in solidarity with parents of black kids. Parents of rich kids don’t ask about whether Travon was too “ghetto” or about his social class. They, too, know tragedy when they see it. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Even the might gun lobby has been quiet on this. They haven’t been silent on the topic of guns for at least 30 years.
As we Christians approach a holiday where innocent, unjustifiable death brought healing for millions through a movement of unlikely allies, we stand at the precipice of the same thing happening due to a young black boy in a hoodie. In our hearts, we are ready. Maybe it’s time we put some sort of action behind it. Maybe we should begin building on the bridges which have occurred here. Maybe we should spend time together as blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, Multiple-race people — as Americans — getting to know each other, discussing race and fear and whatever divides us. Maybe we should just hang out after work (or while we’re looking for work!), without the media, without the politicians, without the lawyers, without those interested in ideology above people — any ideology. This is the time, while we all agree on something for once. Let’s not waste this chance to make meaning out of tragedy. I, for one, am willing to let Travon have his day.
Rev. John Madsen-Bibeau, LMFT