Tuesday for Trayvon: Listening to children

     (Drawing courtesy of Sam Gerlach)

    (Drawing courtesy of Sam Gerlach)

    I feel passionately about the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman. I feel those events in my bones, yet I find myself struggling for words.

    I was not surprised by the verdict. Both the law and history were on the side of the defendant. I try to honor the fact that Trayvon’s parents wished for their day in court, and they did get that.

    But understanding history and the constraints of the legal system did not mean I wasn’t shocked or saddened or just weary that it ended this way.

    Grappling with emotion

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    A grown man can pursue, shoot, and kill an unarmed child, yet walk away free. I still find that staggering, and I don’t think it’s naive. I’d be more worried about myself if I didn’t feel horrified by that truth.

    My hope is that the national conversation sparked by the trial, and more importantly by Trayvon’s death, will lead us towards valuing the lives of all children, not just some children.

    That no matter what our own skin color is, that we value every mother’s child as if he were our own.

    That we acknowledge how far we still have to go in this country towards racial justice.

    Reaction from the young

    Just as deeply in my bones as I feel this loss, I know that our children continue the journey, the fight and the healing in ways far beyond our own imaginations.

    And in that light, I asked my own children to share their thoughts on the verdict:

    My 6-year-old said simply, “He shouldn’t have shooted him since he was just buying candy.”

    My 7-year-old wished that “when someone shoots a gun, the bullets would turn into pills that would make the person who got shot feel better.”

    My 10-year-old had more to say:

    “I think that there should be no guns allowed in the U.S. or some day, there will be no more people living in the U.S. I also think it was pretty stupid that a woman who shot a gun into the air and didn’t kill anybody had to go to jail and George Zimmerman didn’t have to go to jail for killing Trayvon Martin.”

    My 14-year-old clearly had an emotional reaction, but like me, had trouble thinking about it in words. So he just drew the image which accompanies this post.

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