I’m so sorry, Trayvon

*This post was originally published on July 17, 2013.

By nothing more than accident of birth I came into this world a female member of the white race.

By nothing more than accident of birth and though not as privileged as white male members, I also came into this world a female member of a privileged race.

I have never done anything to earn this privilege and whether or not we want to admit it, none of us who find ourselves as members of the white race have.

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I am the proud mother of six extraordinary sons and grandmother to one beautiful grandson.

Over the past forty one years I have worried about many things concerning them, but never have I worried that one of them might get shot while walking home from the corner store dressed in a hoodie.

None of my sons has ever been the object of suspicion or been feared because of the color of their skin.

None of my sons has ever been pulled over or been detained by a policeman because of the color of their skin.

I am reasonably certain that if any of my sons ever found themselves in court that the color of their skin would not work against them.

I have not always been aware that I enjoy a privileged life merely because of the color of my skin.

I never in a million years would have thought that I could ever harbor a racist thought in my mind.

Yet one day I was sitting in my parked car on the side of a street in an unfamiliar city.

While I was waiting for my husband to unload a few items from the back of the car, a group of about seven or eight young black men came walking down the sidewalk toward our car.

I am ashamed to admit that I had to fight the overwhelming urge to lock the doors.

As this group of young black men came closer I could feel my heart race. I could feel my blood pressure rising too, but I did not lock the doors.

As this group of young black men approached the car they separated into two groups and surrounded the car. I became even more frightened.

That group of young Black men walked right on by. They never paid us any attention at all.

I was afraid and my fear made me a hypocrite.

My fear was a contradiction to what I believed about myself and professed to others. Being afraid made me feel as if I had betrayed my black friends.

Might I have been afraid if the group of young men had been white?

Perhaps. Maybe I would have been just as frightened. Maybe not. I don’t really know!

But I do know that fear can do ugly, shameful, and sometimes even tragic things.

I am ashamed.

I’m so sorry, Trayvon.
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*Update* I realize that some may interpret the phrase, “By nothing more than accident of birth” that I do not believe that we are all created by God’s design. This is not accurate- I believe that God knew each and everyone of us before we ever came into being, and that He created us with a purpose. I used that phrase merely to point out that no one gets to choose what color their skin will be or what sex they will be. No one should be judged as better or worse than anyone else based on skin color or sex!

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17 Replies to “I’m so sorry, Trayvon

  1. I am more in tune with the thoughts of Rich Rumple on the verdict, that we were not there and do not know what happened. Just that a Hispanic man shot (and killed) a Black man. Those two men will have to explain what happened to the Higher Authority, the ultimate Judge. Whatever happened that horrid night is a tragedy.

    I think this is such an honest post about your feelings. I imagine you tearing as you wrote it. It is very beautiful, Sylvia.

  2. I admire your honest thoughts. I admit that I feel the same way at times. Groups of kids of any race scare me. I live in an area where crime is on the rise. I also have a son who has been in trouble with the law more than once. I know the kinds of things he did, I was witness to more than I care to ever want to share.
    I agree that the Lord will judge them both. One thing bothers me, I did not sit on the jury, I did listen to a lot of it hoping to understand….but a few things made me wonder…what was Trayvon doing in a ‘gated’ community? He did not live in the housing development. Why did he (the shooter) not listen to the 911 operator and just let him go on….NO one should die because of the color of their skin. That is just wrong.

    1. There are many unanswered questions about this tragic incident that Only George Zimmerman and Trayon Martin know the answers to. Thanks for your comment, Roxie.

    2. He was visiting someone who lived there. Most of the articles I have read said it was his father’s girlfriend and they were staying at her home overnight. The community has a significant black population, so I don’t understand why his presence made him automatically seem suspicious to Zimmerman.

      My impression is that Zimmerman did not follow instructions because he wanted to be the vigilante who protects the neighborhood. He did not have the judgment to do this correctly, and I am sorry he was not punished for his mistake. (There’s still the possibility of a civil case leading to a penalty for him.)

      Sylvia, thanks for the beautiful post! It is so important to recognize the privilege we have and the prejudices that swim to the surface sometimes. Last year I accidentally took a $25 item from a store without paying, and I suspect that the employees wouldn’t have been so calm and nice about it if I were a 17-year-old black boy. Here’s the whole story if you’re interested:

  3. So powerful and honest. I admit, I would have felt the same way. But then again, I was intimidated by a group of white teenage boys in Panera the other day, so maybe it’s the teenage boy thing. Either way, we have no right to judge people on skin color, age, gender, anything… yet sometimes we do for reasons we don’t necessarily understand. I agree, fear is such a terrible thing.

  4. I am not an accident. God made me a white female on purpose. Mr. Zimmerman was not white, he was Hispanic. The whole thing was an unfortunate incident that shouldn’t have happened, but it did. A jury of our peers (some black) said Mr. Zimmerman was not guilty after hearing all of the evidence and seeing all of the pictures. Since I did not hear the same evidence nor did I see the same pictures, I don’t believe I should question the verdict of those jurors who gave up their lives for several weeks to listen to this case!

    1. I think you missed the point of this post. I believe that God created us all by design too. The message that I was trying to get across is that we can’t choose what color or sex we are born with, that there is such a thing as racial profiling (even among people who would never ever consider themselves to be racist), and that fear is a very powerful and dangerous emotion. I believe that it was a fear of each other that caused a young man to lose his life. I wonder if both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin both believed that they were acting in self defense. I do not know who was right and who was wrong. It is not for me to judge.

  5. I am so glad I stopped by to read your blog; you are an amazing woman! May you navigate through today filled with the joy that comes from knowing your Savior! When is the MRI I should pray for?

    1. Thanks Barbara. Bethany’s MRI is scheduled for Aug. 28. I am really dreading it and would greatly appreciate as many prayers as I can get!

      1. What a honest post! I appreciate you sharing your wisdom here. Well Said!

        I have tried to grab the button again that is Pray for Bethany, but I have had a hard time doing so. It may be something that I am doing wrong. I definitely still pray for Bethany and your family everyday, I just want to spread the prayer chain.

        Thank you so much for sharing!

        1. I’ll check it to see of it it works. You should just be able to highlight it from left to right. At the end just go back to the left slightly until it turns blue. Right click on copy then right click on paste. I can just send you the code in your email too! Thanks for praying!

  6. Such a thoughtful post, Sylvia. Trayvon’s story is tragic, full stop. I am grateful, however, for the dialogue that has sprung up around the coverage of it. We can do so much better as a society, and this has been an opportunity to really see that. I only hope change will come quickly so that scenarios like this one can be a thing of the past.

  7. Hi there! I am co-hosting this week on the Wondering Brain Show Off Weekend Blog Party. Thanks for sharing your creations with us! I hope you found inspiration in all of the terrific posts.

    I host a (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and a TGIF Link Party at my place — A Peek Into My Paradise… http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/ I would love for you to link up and follow (if you don’t already) if you like what you see. =) I follow back – I love making new friends!

    I can’t wait to see what you link up next week!

    Hugs, Cathy

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