My heart is heavy today. It is pierced with pain and filled with fear. I wore a hoodie at church out of solidarity with the lost, so he may not be the forgotten. I saw glances and disapproving eyes. I felt backs stiffen. I heard only silent pews and pulpits on this issue confronting our nation. I continue to see, hear and feel all this. I must ask you, my brother, my sister, my Church—why don’t you love me?
A man follows me, as I am on my way to a loved one’s house. I don’t know him. He asks me what I’m doing here, where I’m going, who I am. To me, he looks threatening. I don’t want him to know where I live or where I’m going. If he doesn’t let me go am I not justified to defend myself? Why should I be stripped of my masculinity, expected to run and not him? Why is his ground more lawful or worthy to stand on than mine? Why would there be no justice for me if I were to die? If you were me, wouldn’t you want justice too?
Trayvon Martin looked suspicious to George Zimmerman. He followed Trayvon and a fight broke out. Trayvon was killed with Zimmerman’s gun. Zimmerman was found not guilty. We can debate facts, how the case was or was not argued, and whether the system worked. But cases are more than facts and arguments. They communicate volumes about what we value, what we love. What I hear is that I am fair game to be tracked, pursued and shot if I look suspicious. It could happen to me. It would be that easy. For the first time in my life I am afraid to die for being Black.
We congregate the day following the verdict. We sing and smile. We listen and nod. My heart bleeds. You are silent and the hatred deafens me. Are we not to mourn with those who mourn? Why does my mourning offend you? Is it right for you to be offended because I challenge you? Why should I wallow in fear of my freedom so you may freely enjoy yours? It’s over, I hear, so move on. Get over it. You’re wrong. Forget about it. I can’t forget about it because for the first time in my life I understand how Blacks felt to see the battered face of Emmett Till. So I ask you—why won’t you love me?
Jesus loves me. In Philippians, one of our ancient hymns sings that he made himself nothing, taking a servant’s nature and human likeness. Jesus was emptied, poured out into a vessel not his own. He became man to know me, identify with me, suffer with me. Jesus became like me to love me. Why don’t you love me like that? Why do you selfishly hold on to yourself and not seek to go even one mile in my shoes, or better yet, two? If you truly loved me, you would love me like Jesus does. Why won’t you?
I know why you won’t love me. You have a problem with your eyes. They are filled with the darkness of self. You have not emptied yourselves of yourselves. Your eyes are an offense to you. Rip them out. Rip them out and take the eyes of a woman. See that she wants equality. Rip them out and take the eyes of the homeless man. See that he wants dignity and respect. Rip them out. Take the eyes of the Black boy. See that he wants and needs a deliverer. He wants those who claim to love him to stand up for him, to publicly voice his silent fear. He needs someone to say, “I see you are afraid and I am with you. I am for you. I will be your right guard.” Until you rip out your offending eyes you cannot love me.
Until that day comes I will pray for us. But I will also stand here, and my standing will mock your lack of love. I will stand here so you can see me, and all my hurt and anger. I will stand here even as you refuse to love me. I will stand doing what you refuse to—to love. I will stand here with Trayvon Martin. I will refuse to be silent. I will forever testify against
I ask you, one last time—will you love me?