Wear a Hoodie to Church

March 22, 2012 @ 01:01 pm by Jacqui Lewis

On Wednesday night, hundreds of people — women, men, and children — took to the streets and marched from Union Square in reaction to the senseless killing of an unarmed Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. In their hoodies, with their children hoisted on their shoulders, they marched and chanted, full of lament: race clearly still matters in these United States of America. Black teenagers scare some people, therefore, walking while Black is a dangerous thing to do in some places, some times.

How dangerous is a Black boy, armed with skittles and a soft drink? How frightening is some mother's baby, some father's son, just because he is Black, wearing his jeans down low, hoodie-adorned as a fashion statement?

I walked by some Black young men last night, on the way home from the church meeting that kept me from marching. I saw them in my singular march to the subway; they were standing close together, just across from Grand Central Terminal. As I approached, my maternal instincts kicked in, along with my desire to hug and protect them from harm.

I said, “Excuse me, baby, can I get by?"

And the hooded one said, "Yes, Ma'am – sorry."

"No sorry needed,” I said, "Have a great night."

“You, too, Ma'am," He said.

Those young men were about the age my own son would be right now, if I had one. So was Trayvon.

These are our children: Trayvon, those young men I passed last night, the two little girls in this photo taken by my colleague Christina, and they are in danger. We have to fix this; we have to address the ways racism in these United States is like a virus that mutates and continues to infect us. Our children are not born to hate nor are they born with fear. But adults who have the virus can harm them, and children can catch the virus, too.

It can feel overwhelming, addressing racism, but we have to do it. Come to our multiracial/multicultural community, Middle Church, on Sunday; wear your hoodie and plan to pray for healing. Hear special music written just for Trayvon, by Bil Wright and Dionne McClain-Freeney. Hear my sermon, a call to action. Sign this petition, and let's do something about how racism kills our children.

It's been a long time coming, but I know a change is going to come.



Society, since its inception, has never been pre-racial, because we haven't learned how to accept difference, and as we're still burying the victims of racism, clearly we aren't post-racial, just racial. How sad. But, my belief in a Creator who made all things, including difference, makes me believe we will we stop fearing differences, be it ethnic, birthplace, gender, sexual orientation, income, religion, or ability, and see, appreciate, and embrace them.

Dionne on March 22, 2012

Jacqui - It always makes me so proud when I see your articles here and in the Huffington Post. Thank you for all that you do and for being such a solid symbol of justice and light. What happened to Trayvon is such a horrible tragedy and people need to wake up and realize that we still have work to do. Love, JS

Janie Smith on March 23, 2012

I'm struck at the very humanizing images of black boys and men in the media this week, and of black parents. The images themselves aren't surprising, but their presence in the mainstream media is. Reading yours and other writings, this really hit me hard. We don't get to ever see these positive images, only negative ones that confirm whatever racist impulses and ideas we may possess. We need more stories about young black men that focus not on crimes committed by or against them, but which focus on them as human beings; their achievements, their dreams, their contributions, as well as their struggles and triumphs--just like we've always done with white kids. I want to add that I appreciated very much your thoughtful suggestions for peaceful action, such as the mailing of skittles, and the Facebook photos with hoodies. I'm trying now to think of a similarly creative way for we, the beneficiaries of white privilege, to make a statement that we are willing to look at and acknowledge that privilege, and to begin to break it down. I'll let you know what I come up with. I'm also open to suggestions. I've added my small voice to this discussion, with a focus on white privilege, here at my blog, for anyone who's interested: http://ramblesphere.blogspot.com/2012/03/who-killed-trayvon-martin.html Thank you for your thought-provoking and eye-opening piece.

"Blanche DuBois" on March 23, 2012

About This Blog

Preparing ethical leaders for a just society. Posts by Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister.

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