This spring I am taking a personal blogging hiatus and have invited some folks to blog in my stead. It is my intention help share some new voices and perspectives with a larger audience and keep my blog active during my break. If you are interested in guest blogging, feel free to submit an idea. Today I welcome my friend Mark Koenig, to the blogging crew. Mark Koenig serves as the director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. This involves advocacy in the UN community and, despite all his vows never to teach, education for church folk. In his spare times, he follows the Pittsburgh Steelers, watches movies, bangs on a guitar, and writes bad poetry. He blogs at graybeardtrail.
I participated in part of the Million Hoodie March in New York this evening.
A couple of quick observations . . .
- Again and again I saw parents and children. I recognized their presence both as a witness and as a teaching moment. The courage and grace moved me to tears.
- One young white woman stood with a sign saying: “Never arrested for looking suspicious.” She included a Twitter hashtag of #whiteprivilege. It was one of those “I wish I had thought of that moments.” I thanked her.
- I went directly from work, having only learned of the event today. I was not the only one there without a hoodie. In a conversation while marching up 6th Avenue, I told my companions that I do have a hoodie at home. They were more impressed that I had come straight from work.
- Among the marchers I saw people with canes, children in strollers, and babies strapped to their parents’ chest.
- “We are Trayvon Martin.” The chant rang out again and again and again. It challenged me and inspired me. But it also made me wonder, who are the other Trayvon Martin’s whose names I do not know.
- Check out #millionhoodiemarch on Twitter for more.
Before the march, I wrote the following . . .
Our position of privilege tells me that what happened to Trayvon Martin – his February 26 killing as he made his way to his father’s home – is less likely to happen to my sons than it is to the sons or daughters of many of my friends. Less likely than it is to happen to the sons or daughters of people I do not know. Less likely than it is to happen to children of color.
I grieve for Trayvon and for his family and for every family that has had to endure such an atrocity. I grieve for our society in which such acts occur.
I rage that we have created a world in which such travesties occur – and that for all our efforts to dismantle racism and overcome racial prejudice – for all the progress we have made – so far remains to go.
I tremble as I ponder the trust and friendship that I receive from people of color. Trust and friendship that provide continuing definitions of grace.
I confess that I have spoken too late and too timidly on behalf of Trayvon and his family.
I acknowledge that I have failed to work as faithfully or diligently as I should have done to address the racism upon which our society is structured.
I grieve. I rage. I tremble. I confess. I acknowledge. I will do more.
I will sign a petition started by Trayvon’s family.
I will be on Union Square for the Million Hoodie March this evening.
I will look for additional opportunities to speak and act.
I will place a hoodie at the front of the workshop I will lead at a Presbyterian gathering on peace and social justice on Friday.
For in the end, our lives intertwine in this country and on this small rock hurtling around the sun.
In the end we are made, not for ourselves alone but for each other.
In the end, is not Trayvon my son?
Are not all children my sons and daughters?
Are not Trayvon and all children – all our sons, all our daughters?