white mom, black son: the raging heartbreak of Trayvon Martin

I try to choke down the news, the nightmare, of Trayvon Martin this past week.  This is such a big thing…..and I feel but a shadowy glance of what his mother must feel…but feel that mother heartbreak, I do.

How can I even begin with all this?  I have wrestled with this all week;  what happened,  what is happening, how to process it, for myself, my prayers, my family, my kids.  Wrestled with writing about it.  Or not.  As I have nothing profound to add, I keep thinking, “Don’t.”  But, as I process by typing….I need to.  So, onward type….

I am a white mom.  I am a white mom to five kids of color. I am a white mom to eight kids in all.  But, make no mistake, what is important today is that I am a mom to two black sons.   I am a mom to one young black son who will grow into a rather large black man.  This boy, my own sweet son, he is on my mind as I read the news, pray for his mom and family, and try to sort my furious whirlwind sorrow over this.

Trayvon Martin.

I knew.  I have known.  I have known and thought and considered how my own sweet young boy might be perceived as he grows into his height and build and ages up.  And I have been trying to begin his instruction for that time: “Strong men are gentle.” “Strong men are kind and good.” “Strong men control their actions.” I knew I would have to give him more particular instructions as he became an older teen.  Some of these instructions I gave to my two older sons, my white sons: “If you are pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel.” “Do not talk back, just say ‘Yes Sir, no sir. Be respectful and direct.”  But now, I realize that soon, too soon, perhaps even now, I have to begin to introduce some different rules to my son. I have to train him to see another possibility: that he might be presumed to be criminal simply due to his deep beautiful brown skin.  As many writers point out, he might be guilty of “walking while black.”  And that makes my heart break, and it makes me churn with anger….no different from other moms.  I might be a white mom. But I am a mom of black sons.  And that makes me worry and pray in a special way for my children.

The death of Trayvon Martin makes me so angry; hurt for his family, hurt for the injustice, hurt for this innocent kid….. It’s unspeakable.  And yet, of course, we must speak.  I’m not adding anything to the dialogue spreading like wildfire around the net.  The outrage over this story is building; it’s set in motion what we can only hope to be justice.  And yet, even with that justice, the investigation, and yes, hopefully, the arrest of the Zimmerman…..I feel conflicted.  I do not want to join any bloodlust chorus for revenge.  Revenge is hollow, empty, nothing.  Justice is needed.  And so, I will unite my prayers with those across the world, for the repose of this innocent’s soul.  I will unite my prayers with those across the world for the comfort and peace and courage for his family and friends and community.  I will unite my prayers with those around the world for justice.

Because here is what I think.  I think this was a racist act (the reported racist slurs make my blood boil).  I think this was unconscionable and unspeakable senseless violence.  I think an innocent kid was murdered.  And the only way I can reconcile all this is to say…..Zimmerman, he is a broken man.  How can he not be? That is not, even for a a moment, to dismiss what he did, or have that be an excuse.  There is no excuse.  But, he is a man seemingly filled with rage and paranoia and racist bile.  But, even so, surely, now, surely…he  must realize what he has done?  I haven’t  heard if he has.  But surely, in his core, he knows.  He knows.  He must.  Trayvon was a child.  That alone, should shatter him.  That, right there, is where I need to look in order to be able to choke back my own rage towards him and try, try to find a way to pray for him.  I need to find – to beg for – the Grace to pray for his remorse.  My husband points out that he needs our prayers too.  And so, I pray for that grace…to be able pray for Zimmerman too…..for his justice, yes, but also for the mercy of deep true remorse and understanding in his soul.

The news on this keeps breaking through the cacophony of our busy days.  And it should. We all should be outraged.  We all should shout for justice.  We all should be shocked.  And we are.  But, while we all weep and pray and should and do and will continue to pray for Trayvon and his parents and family…as the call for justice rings out ……I pray we find a way to change our nation and heal the rage and ignorance that simmers just below the surface.  Because until it does heal and change….

my anthony

…all of our sons are at risk.  Perhaps not of such precise shocking immediate violence.  But certainly they are at risk – or indeed perhaps they are guaranteed – of a loss of their innocent hearts as they learn the hard lessons of being a black young man in America.  As a mom of a young black boy in America, Trayvon is ‘my son.’ He is all of our son’s.  God have mercy on us all.

2 thoughts on “white mom, black son: the raging heartbreak of Trayvon Martin

  1. this is exactly how i feel. I haven’t put anything into words on my blog, simply because… I can’t. I just can’t. But I’m speaking out in person and talking to my family and my kids about it. Oh mercy. We need so much mercy.

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