May 10, 2012
Dear Members and Friends of DRUUMM,
As the Executive Committee of DRUUMM, we feel a need to speak to the strong emotions so many of us feel as a result of the national attention to the death of an unarmed Black youth in Sanford, FL. First, we mourn the death of Trayvon Martin and the pain his family and friends must feel for a young life cut short by tragedy. We also grieve for our own feelings of dismay, pain and anger that an unarmed Black teenager can be shot and killed and his known shooter allowed to run free until the glare of national attention demanded an investigation.
We know that whether or not George Zimmerman is ever convicted for the death of Taryvon Martin, a deep historic and personal wound will have been reopened for may of us. For the death of this one young man represents for so many of us, the history of our Black brothers and sisters in this country. It represents how little concern there is for the lives of Black people today. His death brings to mind the death and incarceration of those we have known or read about, and the treatment we ourselves have experienced living as "the other" in our society.
Whatever the facts of this particular case, we must acknowledge how deeply we are affected by the image of an unarmed Black man, simply walking at night, being seen and defined as suspicious. We must acknowledge the memories and angst of our own mistreatment for merely being where someone else decided we did not belong. We must acknowledge, the vicious, on-going history of ill-treatment of those deemed "different" in our culture.
Our grief is real. Our pain well earned. Our anger grows out of knowing that People of Color are killed every day and the media takes no notice.
Our spirits require healing if we are to live a healthy and rewarding life.
How do we care of ourselves? Where do we turn for comfort and understanding?
The obvious answer for people of faith is that we should turn to our faith communities to help minister to our needs. And yet, so many of us are the only, or one of very few in our congregations who know and share our experiences. This reality, or supposition, may cause us to hesitate, even retreat from seeking the care and holding we may need from the place that should be the most able to provide it.
Becoming whole requires that we see, acknowledge and accept the truth of what is real. If we truly believe we are unable to find solace in our congregations, we should find it where we can. DRUUMM stands ready to offer whatever support we are able. Visit our website, contact other members of DRUUMM, seek out known allies. But do not withdraw from your faith community, for it is your faith community because it fills very real needs.
We write as the Executive Committee of DRUUMM, and we write as fellow Unitarian Universalists. We want our people to know they are being thought of and held by their faith community.
When we are able, when we feel strong and stable, we do need to share our realities within our faith communities. Not in anger or frustration, but in honest dialogue, we need to be the full human beings that we are and bring our full selves to our faith communities if they are to sustain us. We need to keep in mind, that our churches exist within the context of a larger American culture. If national polls are to be believed, Whites in our churches are likely to see and experience this tragedy quite differently than People of Color.
The DRUUMM Executive Committee hopes that we as Unitarian Universalists can have the honest and open sharing of our life stories hopes, fears, concerns and needs within our church family, our church homes. We hope that the national attention to the Trayvon Martin case creates the landscape for open dialogue on issues of race, ethnicity, difference, privilege, oppression and multiculturalism that we have, with moderate success, attempted to have before. May this national tragedy lead to a deepening understanding and support of each other.
As we come up to our Justice GA in Phoenix this June, we are reminded of the multi-dimensionality and layers of complexity of justice in America. May we, as Unitarian Universalists, use these occasions to be open to new insights, to learn what we do not know about the realities of life in someone else's skin. May we keep fresh in our minds the beliefs and principles we espouse and hold dear. May we be open to one another and to the stranger we encounter. May love be our guide. May we always stand on the side of love.
Rev. Walter, LeFlore, for
The DRUUMM Executive Committee