Jul

16

2013

Trip Lee|9:16 AM CT

Should We Move On?

I've kept up with the Trayvon Martin saga from the beginning. Like many of you I watched the news coverage, read the articles, and talked about it with friends. It dominated public conversation and provoked a much-needed discussion about race in America. The ugly reality of racism was pushed in front of our faces, and even those who like to pretend it doesn't exist were forced to talk about it.

Over a year later, Trayvon's killer has been tried and found not guilty. Does that mean we should move on from the issues? They found him innocent, so these "race issues" must not be as real as we thought they were, right? That couldn't be further from the truth. I have no intention of arguing about the facts, Trayvon's character, or the verdict in this tragic situation, but I do think some discussion should continue. The trial is over, but the conversation shouldn't be.

Why the Interest?

I know there are many who wonder why this particular trial has captured the attention of so many. Others wonder why some black folks are so quick to sympathize with Trayvon Martin, despite the fact he had issues of his own. After all, none of us were there and we don't know exactly what happened. While that's true, I did find myself emotionally invested in the whole ordeal. I can't speak for everybody, but I can tell you why I found myself sympathizing with Trayvon and the Martin family.

When I hear about a young black teenager walking home from the store, and the man who assumed he was a criminal before knowing anything about him, I can relate. You may not be able to. Maybe you've never been followed around in a department store by a security guard for no reason. I have. Maybe you've never had a convenient store clerk scream at you to leave, assuming that the blackberry on your hip is a gun that you plan to shoot him with. I have.

Maybe you've never smiled and greeted people you've passed on the street, only to have them avoid eye contact, clutch their belongings, and quickly walk away. I have. Maybe you've never been pushed against a wall, held at gunpoint, and handcuffed by police (who are supposed to protect you) because you "look like a suspect we were looking for." I have—and I looked nothing like that suspect. All of these incidents are minor and none of them significantly threatened my life. Most, if not all, of my black friends have been through similar situations. And countless others have endured much, much worse.

If you've never experienced this sort of thing, you may not understand why this case resonates so deeply with us. But when I hear his story, I hear my story. And my father's story. And my son's story. I have no idea what happened after Mr. Zimmerman made assumptions about that young man, but before the altercation, there was nothing extraordinary about the incident. It happens every single day.

Profiling is real, and it's often racial. Some people think they have the gift of discovering character just by looking at a person. Just like a dark blue uniform and badge means law enforcement, dark skin and a hoodie means lawbreaker. No conversation has happened, but an imaginary rap sheet is attached. Violent character is assumed. They think about the gangster image they saw on TV, or the danger their parents told them about, or the horrible crime they witnessed—and they place all of that baggage on a person they've never even met. We never have the right to draw unwarranted conclusions about a person—even if they do turn out to be troubled.

These kinds of assumptions are disgusting and false. God made all human beings in his image with value and worth. Yet all of us are sinful and fail to display God's image as we should. Every single one of us can turn from our sins, trust Christ, and be made right by our Creator. But racism picks and chooses which people these truths should be applied to. Racism says, "I'm valuable and good, and all of those people are wicked."

This prideful rebellion against God and opposition to his Gospel should be of interest to God's people. We shouldn't ignore it, and we shouldn't be afraid to address it. The good news is that Jesus came to die for both racist and non-racist sinners. Former enemies can become friends in him, and benefit from the exact same grace. Who will step up, address this issue, and proclaim the truth? Whether or not you think race is a factor in this case, you can't deny that race is a factor in the lives of so many of us every day.

What Do We Do Now?

So how should we respond? Maybe we should move on in one sense. Maybe we should stop arguing about the stuff we're not sure about. We don't know every single detail of that night; otherwise, we would have been called as witnesses. And whether or not we like the verdict, it's out of our hands.

Maybe we should stop arguing, and start praying. Pray for the families. Pray that God would keep his promise to send his Son to bring perfect justice. The Lord doesn't need lawyers to argue their cases, and he doesn't need evidence presented. He has no need for jurors to give him their perspective. He sees all, knows all, and judges with perfect justice.

But in another sense, we most definitely should not move on. We should not stop talking about the racism that still lurks in our world. If you've experienced it, help those who haven't experienced it to understand. Be patient with your friends as they clumsily seek to comprehend what you've gone through. And please don't prove them right by fulfilling negative stereotypes. Trust Christ, and pray God would mold your character to look more like his.

If you've never been on the receiving end of racism, sympathize with those who have. Learn about their experiences. You can't love someone if you ignore or belittle their concerns. Please never assume that people are just complaining and playing the "race card."  Seek to understand them, and respect the fact that some of us live in different realities and have to endure different trials.

Whatever you do, just don't stop talking about it.

This article originally appeared at Can I Brag On My Lord?.

Trip Lee is a hip-hop artist with Reach Records and a pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Good Life and blogs at Can I Brag On My Lord?. You can follow Trip on Twitter.

Categories: Current Events
  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    Mr. Lee makes the very needed point that our African-American neighbors have experienced real discrimination that gives them a legitimate reason to suspect wrong-doing.

    However, the article would be balanced if it dealt with another kind of assumption: the assumption that Zimmerman must have been wrong simply because there is such an extensive history of wrong being done to other African-American people. The details of both Zimmerman's life (who had black friends tutored in his home, who took a black girl as his prom date, who protested to the police when a policeman had beaten a black man) and the details of the incident (that Zimmerman wasn't even certain Martin was black, that he wasn't following Martin closely nor did he apparently confront Martin, etc), show that this was not such an incident. And yet many assumed it was. This was profiled as a racial attack from the beginning (which I personally believed). That kind of profiling needs to be dealt with too. A community watch volunteer should have the right to watch his neighborhood, report a suspicious character, without being profiled as a racist if that character happens to be black.

    Yes, Mr. Lee is absolutely correct: "We never have the right to draw unwarranted conclusions about a person." Now, please apply that courtesy to Mr. Zimmerman and those like him.

    • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

      It's ok, there are enough apologists for Mr. Zimmerman. I think you did a great job with it here. Trip Lee didn't make any conclusions about Mr. Zimmerman. He's just talking solely about racial profiling.

  • Sky

    Thanks for your thoughts Trip Lee. I admire you a ton.

    What I don't understand is why the news media portrayed Zimmerman as a white guy. It's as if they in the media wanted a race war. After many complained of the inaccuracies of calling him white (he's hispanic with black relatives) the media then called him a "white hispanic". It's depressing, because although caucasians, of whom I identify on paper (it's the color of my skin), have a terrible past of racism and slavery, are not who we (I hate saying "we" as I am not responsible for the misdeeds of others) were or what did.

    The news even edited his photos and left out the ones that show a broken and bloody noes. Even the 911 call was edited to make Zimmerman out to be a profiling racist. Now legal action is being pursued against ABC (or NBC).

    I'm just sad because this whole thing was made out to be white vs. black (when Zimmerman isn't even white). I just wish we would all see beyond the color of skin. Paul addressed that pretty clearly when he said God doesn't make a distinction between Jew or Greek.

    I guess this whole thing just sucks.

    • Anar

      Open and honest discussions about race and problems facing minority communities is one thing. Media bias, spin, and politically motivated instigation along racial lines is something else. Let's keep the first but drop the second. Let's have such discussion with one another in churches, communities, neighborhoods, but not so much through the gatekeepers in the media and politics.

  • Tim M.

    Hey Trip,
    I definitely appreciate the article. You are certainly speaking of realities that I have only minor exposure to. I imagine that those people you smiled at, who clutched quickly their belongings, have similar personal narratives to tell. I wonder how willing we are to listen to their narratives? Or the police officer who pulled a gun on you, I am sure he has his own narrative which may help explain some of his actions. I say all that to say, I am not sure that anyone in this country can be said to have never been on the receiving end of racism, it takes many forms and it is not all one way. I know you are trying to help people understand your narrative, but do you understand the other "side?"
    In Christ,
    Tim

  • John

    You make some good points. I am sorry for your experiences; I too have been in a situation that it was assumed I was committing a crime when I was not. I was humiliated and angry.

    But, do we know that this incident is about race, or are we assuming?

  • Ronnie

    I guess I didn't really follow this all that closely, because all of the headlines for this just seemed like a distraction for the controversies with the IRS, the NSA, Benghazi, etc.

    Yes, the death is tragic, but I wonder if there's a greater problem in getting so caught up in one story, spoon-fed to us by the media in all of the headlines daily, when the fact is, it's this NATION and our government that need so much prayer.

  • Georgann Giudice

    Thanks, Trip for your wisdom and clear headed thinking on this event and the events that now surround it. Praise God for his pure love, grace and justice for ALL. May the God and Father of ALL continue to use you mightly.

  • Michael in Dublin

    When a friend's son is murdered while loading a truck at work, a neighbour while buying food at a fast food outlet, a professor who was a fellow student in his university office and an elderly relative in his home by two teens one is confronted with the brutal reality of our fallen world - and three of the four were Christians.

    When you have had your home burgled four times, four times unsuccessfully, moved to a safer neighbourhood and seen 13 neighbours burgled in three months one is confronted with the brutal reality of our fallen world.

    When nearly all of those who were guilty of these crimes were of one particular racial group it is hard to accept that the statement of this fact is somehow racism and to claim that profiling in such a situation is racial.

    The politicians and secular society loves bandying around the word racism but our real problem is simply our transgression of the two great commandments. We fail to love God wholeheartedly and we fail to show loving compassion towards our neighbour and even enemy. We fail to be consistent in showing love. This is revealed in a host of different ways of which our attitude and treatment of those different from us is but only one. An obsession with racism often translates into ignoring or making all the other sins somehow not as serious or as bad - something that contradicts the Bible message.

    • Matt Jacobs

      Very well said.

    • Jon in Oxford

      Frankly, sir, that is terrible logic. I'd like to introduce you to statistics. In the US in 2011, 69% of arrested offenders were white, and 28% were black; of the American population that year, 77% were white, and 13% were black. That means that white offenders were "underrepresented" by 8 points, and black offenders were "overrepresented" by 15 points. Case closed, right, blacks are way more likely to be criminals than whites, and totally justified for profiling. Well, no. See, we've just established that a criminal is more likely to be black than we might expect, NOT that a black person is more likely to be a criminal. That depends on how many black people there are in the whole US population. In 2011, there were about 310,000,000 people in the United States, which translates to 40,600,000 black people and 241,490,000 white people (in case you're wondering, this group includes hispanics as well). Now, to figure out the percentage of people who might be criminals, we have to divide the number of arrested people by the total population. It turns out that, in 2011, 6.4% of black people were arrested for any reason, while 2.7% of white people were. Now, we're already down to a mere 3% difference. But to find out whether a black person is statistically more likely to commit crime than a white person, we also have to ask, are black people more likely to get arrested than white people? The answer to this question is plainly yes, from enforcement to police density in high-crime (usually black) neighborhoods to profiling (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/us/marijuana-arrests-four-times-as-likely-for-blacks.html?_r=0). So a 2.7% differential is the OUTER LIMIT of the likelihood of criminality.

      The practical application of this is simple. Even if an absurdly large percentage of black people were criminals, we're still called to love, minister to, and serve them, not to mention motivations from the traditional Christian preference for the poor and the desire to heal the wounds of systemic racism and slavery. But it is completely ludicrous to suggest that we continue to marginalize our black brothers and sisters and inculcate feelings of shame, otherness and fear in them for a <2.7% increased likelihood that they're criminals of any kind! Profiling is sinful because it places our love of our stuff and our safety about healing, reconciliation, and love with our black brothers and sisters. It's also mathematically idiotic.

  • Brian Warshaw

    I would encourage you all to look at the critical part of Trip's post, which is clearly articulated in the last full paragraph. Try to understand other people who have had this (alleged) scenario play out in their own lives, some many times. Is it possible that it happened just as Zimmerman said it did? Of course. But fighting hurting people with the cold fact of a verdict isn't helpful. It tells people that they should squash their feelings and trust that the system works, even if they've seen the system fail first-hand.

    Is it possible that your black brothers and sisters are quicker than they ought to be to draw racially charged conclusions? Yup. But show them Jesus rather than a minimalizing of their concerns. Be compassionate, and be willing to consider the possibility that they are not overreacting.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      True. All very true. But Zimmerman is a human being too and some wanted to take much of his life away because of their emotional reaction.

      • Brian Warshaw

        I totally agree. I just don't want to see people meeting overreaction without compassion. Not asking for people to ignore or enable toxic responses, but to clothe our own responses in grace (even our contrary ones!).

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          We're agreed then. I also believe white people (especially we Christians) need greater empathy for the real discrimination our black neighbors have encountered. But this case was probably the worst imaginable one to make an issue out of. That being the case, continue racial accusations around this case will likely result in more white people becoming LESS sympathetic to black suffering. This has been an egregious case of crying "wolf" when there is no wolf.

          The response of African-American leaders should have been to challenge their own young people to forsake the culture of thugery that made Martin think he could attack the local community watch person with impunity.

          • Trevor Minyard

            "their own young people..."

            You know that those are your young people too, right?

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Yes, you are right. They are OUR young people.

              Our church, which is racially mixed but mostly white, runs a youth ministry in our gym on Sunday evenings. Not by design but not to our regret, it now almost entirely consists of African-American young men. So I weekly find myself addressing about 30 to 50 black youth and having to think how to communicate to them on their terms.

              My point, however, was that if African-Americans are sincere about protecting their youth, then they need to address the culture of thuggery that apparently led Martin to attack the neighborhood watch volunteer.

  • Brian Howell

    Thank you, Trip, for adding your voice to the conversation. I would hope that as these accounts, so similar one to another, add up and up and up and up, people would begin to realize that this is not isolated incidents of bad people, but that our culture is conspiring against us to keep this system going. Of course, who keeps the culture going? We do. Through implicit and complicit actions we maintain the stereotypes and hierarchies of race. Racism is not the only problem in the world, but it is real and pervasive and systematic. Zimmerman is White in the same way Trayvon Martin was black, because of a system of classification that is not based on what you think about yourself or where your parents come from, but just what you look like and how you get classified. People, just listen to Mr. Lee's story people. This is not about the media, or about affirmative-action, or even about the Zimmerman verdict. It is about a culture that stigmatizes black people, especially black men. What are we, as Christians going to DO about this? http://www.christenacleveland.com/2013/07/whiteidentity/

  • http://www.youtube.com/lanech Lane Chaplin

    Maybe you never have had disparaging comments about you solely because of your skin color if you have played basketball at any level above church league. I have. Maybe you haven't been punched in the back of the head leaving a football game with your white friend and your parents by a few black kids solely because you are white and one of their black friends were arrested by white cops at the game. I have. The fact is, racism does exist - on both sides, but if only one side wants to talk about it as something that should be laid solely at another side's doorstep, we aren't really having a conversation about it. We're having a monologue, and there is really no way for one side to bow out of that so the point about us having a convo is moot.

    • Brian Howell

      What you need to understand about the incidents you've experienced is how these are black kids lashing out at a power structure that has victimized them. In those instances you describe, you become a proxy for "the Man" (the White establishment) that has left black men, too often, feeling victimized. Of course it's wrong for them to target you, as if you personally were responsible, but it's a sign of a culture in which Whiteness is classified as all things educated, wealthy, prestigious, and powerful, and Blackness is silly, trivial, dangerous, violent and second-class. It really is a different thing when a black person lashes out at a white person (in a [feeble and misguided] attempt to respond to the system) versus a white person who reinforces the oppressive status quo. As Christians we need to be listening - all of us - but there's a burden on White Christians especially to listen harder and try to understand how and why this idea of White is Right continues to survive in an era when most people know that it isn't true.

      • Tim M.

        Het Brian,
        Why are you so gracious with Trip's narrative and not Lane's? Are they both your brothers? Do you think it's possible that you are minimizing Lane's hurt? Why the double standard?
        Tim

      • Tim M.

        I can tell you with absolute confidence that the solution to racism is not indefinite partiality.

      • Matt Jacobs

        Dear Brian:

        Thank you for your comment. I would respectfully disagree with much of what you say, unfortunately.

        I would challenge you that black people only lash out at white people to "respond to the system." They lash out at white people because of their sinful nature, same as white folks. They may also lash out at white people not to respond to the system, but because they want that white person's iPhone or watch or money.

        I know, they do that because the system has made it possible for white people to have those things and not black people. Putting aside any argument that the single greatest cause of poverty in the black community is babies born out of wedlock (which white people have nothing to do with), can you use your explanation of black people lashing out to explain why black-on-black violent crime is so high?

        My explanation can apply to that. We are all sinners. We all fall short of the holiness of God. We all deserve damnation. If we can approach all conversations on race (or any other issue, really) in that way, we can have wonderful progress. Until all sinfulness is acknowledged on all sides, we're going to get nowhere. What will change race relations in this country is the Holy Spirit. He will not do so without true repentance. From every sinner.

        Blessings to you,
        Matt

      • Steve D.

        It is not a "different thing" for black vs. white people to lash out at one another. It is sin. Exactly how do you take sides with sinner against sinners?

    • Steve D.

      Probably the most relevant and helpful comment to date.

  • Matthew

    Trip,

    I feel personally touched by the stories of racial profiling you shared. I am not black, and I cannot fully empathize, but your personal accounts help me to better understand your perspective.

    However, I do find irony in people's assumption that Zimmerman was racially motivated. Isn't it racial profiling when people assume that George Zimmerman was a racist? Isn't that based on the suburban-white-man -who-is-suspicious-about-a-black-man-in-his-neighborhood stereotype?

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Yes, you're right. This is exactly where racism entered this story: not in anything having to do with the underlying incident but in how it was used to express suspicions of racism based on their own experience, or, worse, to further a political agenda.

  • Jason

    Trip,

    Thanks for the article. I am thankful that we have brothers like you who are unafraid to express such sentiments especially in evangelical world, where the politics tends to be overwhelmingly right wing, and the opinions expressed predominantly anglo-centric. Thank you for helping us understand your perspective!

  • http://www.saltformation.com Salt Formation

    Would we have thought this was a racial issue if the media had not told us? The media is a commodity and is under the power of Satan.

    They are in the business of making money.

    To make money they have to sell advertising.

    To sell advertising they have to keep us glued.

    To keep us glued they have to promote what sells.

    Violence sells. It feeds on the sin nature.

    Maybe we should boycott media?

    • ETS

      There are Christians that work in media to be salt and light not only to their co-workers but to the world. There are stories that people do not know - stories that they need to be told - about the world we live in that only get noticed because someone in the media focused on them. I'm grateful for Christian journalists like myself who are answering God's call for our lives. I pray that my Christian brothers pray for us.

  • Chris

    I become genuinely confused when I read about racism when it's depicted as a one-way street. I'm from Philadelphia and, as a white male, I have experienced a lot of racism. And I know for a fact that I've been called a cracker more times than I've called anyone a racial slur, since I've never really used a racial slur in a derogatory way.

    Sure, we can say that I'm "privileged" since I'm white, and we can assume that things have gone my way because I'm white. But when I walk down the street and smile at white women, they don't smile back; they are often as cold to me as they would be to a young black men. I fear that it's easy to assume racism is the problem when it really isn't the case at all. But I doubt anyone will listen to me, because I can't possibly know how it is to be a black male.

  • Bryan

    Good perspective Tripp, coming from a white brother in Christ who cannot relate to the experiences of being profiled by law enforcement or otherwise. Whether that was the situation in this case involving the Mr. Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, we do not know. All we know are the eye-witness testimonials and expert-witnesses and the arguments of two different teams of lawyers - with the end verdict of "not-guilty". Has true justice won out? No, justice will only be done when Christ returns. Unfortunately, sin has marred our sense of justice and our ability to carry it out on this earth between human beings that all carry the within them the blurred-image of God.

    As you so eloquently put it: "Maybe we should stop arguing, and start praying. Pray for the families. Pray that God would keep his promise to send his Son to bring perfect justice. The Lord doesn't need lawyers to argue their cases, and he doesn't need evidence presented. He has no need for jurors to give him their perspective. He sees all, knows all, and judges with perfect justice"

    Thanks for your contribution brother,
    -Bryan in Sanford, FL

  • http://Dempsey Scott

    I'm white, and grew up in an exclusively white small town in the deep south.

    My father was known to all as an abusive drunk. He would shoplift cigarettes and aftershave lotion (which he drank for the alcohol)from the locally owned stores. He was constantly in and out of the local jail. Due to his reputation, the character of his wife (my mom) and his four children was constantly assumed to be similar to dad's. It wasn't.

    I have been followed in those stores. I have been pulled over for no reason by the same cops that arrested dad time and again. There was the time in eighth grade when the football team I was on at the time had a pool party at a home of one of the other players. I still remember the shock on the team mom's face when she saw me walk into her house and her attitude that told my mom and me that we were not welcome there.

    I could go on...

    So, Mr Lee, I feel A SMALL amount of your pain, although when i left home at age sixteen and moved down the road to a town where my family wasn't a household name due to the misdeeds of my dad, everything changed for the better for me. Black folks don't have that luxury.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      I'm from the south. I don't believe there are any "exclusively white" small towns in the deep south, unless you're in a relatively new suburb.

      But you make a good point, that we generalize and sometimes there are innocent victims of our tendency to assume the worst.

      • http://Dempsey Scott

        'm 46 years old, so admittedly this was a while ago, but there were MANY exclusively white towns where I grew up. Even today, out of the 12 schools in the county system, I would be surprised if more than four of them had any black students.

        The men of my fathers generation told many stories about how they and their fathers before them kept the blacks out of town.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Maybe you're right but in my experience blacks are all over the South, with the exception, perhaps, of some mountainous areas where plantation farming wasn't possible prior to the Civil War. (Places like western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, etc.) Keep in mind that in plantation days, blacks and whites worked closely together and so were relatively "integrated" -- only that the African-Americans were obviously suppressed.

          • http://Dempsey Scott

            Perhaps the area in Alabama where i grew up is an anomaly, but keep in mind that I did live there for sixteen years. Here's a Wiki link regarding the area. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_Mountain_%28Alabama%29

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              I'm wrong about "Sand Mountain". It's what I've always considered "Lookout Mountain" (due to family in Chattanooga). Winston county, in that area, actually seceded from Alabama when Alabama seceded from the USA. Due to the hilly topography, plantations were not common and so there was little use for slaves there.

  • Pingback: How Temar Boggs May Help Us To Reconstruct The Conversation About Race » Doug Hankins : Into The World

  • Gregory Morris

    The core issue is one of the heart. Whether it's black on black, white on white, black on white, white on black or any color combination thereof...until and unless God is allowed to deposit truth from the inside out, nothing will change. There's no amount of legislation, court rulings, talking points ad nauseum by pundits or media induced community rallies that can address the darkness of the human condition. At the end of the day...only God can do that! That is...if and when we allow Him to do so.

  • http://www.antiordinary74.blogspot.com Eric

    This is a great perspective and written at the right time. So many of our problems in this country come from an unwillingness to struggle through long and difficult problems. We're so committed to pragmatic approaches and patches that make things work for now, that we ignore the long-term solutions. And certainly, believers in Christ are guilty of this too.

    May the God Who is patient with us, give us patience to love and work with each other in the Body to overcome the painful past in light of the blood of Christ that has bought and brought us into His Kingdom.

  • John

    This is a very well written article, and I very much appreciate Trip's ability to not overreact OR under-react to this case and its societal implications. One thing that unsettles me however, is the desire by so many people to establish an equal parallel between racism against whites and blacks in this country. We would far rather say that "racism in general is a problem" rather than making the more pointed claim that "racism against blacks/minorities" is a problem. I do not doubt that racism is experienced generally by every race in this country, but why must we deny that 50 years is not enough time to change the preponderance of societal racism that still exists against blacks? If we want to address the general problem of racism in this country, maybe we could at least give some specific attention to one of its most prevalent forms which is undoubtedly contra-minority.

    Concerning this case, Trip Lee made the simple and very true fact that Zimmerman profiled Trayvon from the start. Zimmerman pointed out to the 911 dispatcher the race, clothing, and "walking style/behavior" of Trayvon. These were the main factors that caused Zimmerman to pursue and falsely label an innocent teen. However, it my be said that Trayvon profiled Zimmerman. His comments on the phone while looking at the man pursuing him in a car was undoubtedly tainted with racially offensive terms. However, again, why must we try to establish a false equality to both cases of profiling. Trayvon may have profiled Zimmerman due to the comments he made on the phone that night, but this was in response to a person who was following and strangely pursuing him at night. It at least seems obvious that unprovoked profiling that generates pursuit and confrontation is more culpable than profiling the person who is suspiciously pursuing you at night.

    Balance is definitely needed as we view this case, and racism in general. However, a properly balanced approach means giving proper value and weight to factors which may outweigh other factors. Admitting the fact that contra-minority racism is preponderant in this country (even if not by a huge amount) should not be taboo among us sober-minded reformed evangelicals. Those who may overweigh the significance of contra-minority racism or attribute it to the wrong people, should not cause us to then 'under'-value this very real problem in our society.

    • Tim M.

      Hey John,
      I'm not sure which is the bigger problem: racism from majority members or racism from minority members. How can you be so confident that minorities experience more racism than majority members? Isn't racism a heart issue? How can you possibly know which group has the greater problem? I believe only God has those answers.

      • John

        Hey Tim,

        None of us can try to address societal racism by looking at people's hearts. However, we can still observe the most prevalent outward expressions of racism that exist in the U.S. I am not saying that majorities are intrinsically more racist. However, I am saying (and I think this is obvious within our nation given its history) that racism has been, and is more outwardly expressed toward minorities than toward majorities. It's more a matter of saying which group is more hurt by racism than saying which group has the bigger problem with expressing it. I think, if we are honest with ourselves, its easy to see that minorities bear a larger burden from expressed racism than majorities in this country.

        • Tim M.

          Hey John,
          I think one can look at this comment section and conclude that what may be obvious to you isn't obvious to others. I wonder if we are dealing with very different definitions of racism. I suppose that is part of the problem. Racism has become a very nebulous word. I will grant that historically blacks have experiences much more race based oppression than whites. I think it's much more of a difficult case to make that blacks experience more outward expressions of racism than whites today. One has to judge the heart or words of individual people to determine these things. If I were to venture a guess, I'd say that white distrust of blacks and black distrust of whites is fairly equal. I imagine it's just as common to hear a black man refer to a white man as a cracka, as it is to hear a white man say the N word, to use just one example. I don't claim omniscience, but what appears obvious to you isn't so obvious to me.

          I don't think we reconcile two groups by putting one group forever in the others debt, especially considering the fact that many in that group had nothing to do with said actions.

          If we are to move forward, we need to quit having discussions about why it is understandable to keep a record of perceived wrong doings and quit assuming negative motives and racist intent, which is presumption, and quit showing partiality. There are problems on both ends.

  • Josh

    Racism is bad, but so is focusing on an issue (like this trial) that is only racial because a variety of news outlets and politicians said so. Not once have I ever gotten the hint that Zimmerman was a racist.

    Instead, focus on something that really happens, instead of what you think might be going on in someone's mind:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Chicago

    How many blog posts and articles are going to be written about those crime rates or their perpetrators and victims? I found one:
    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=7168

    This news isn't good, but it is real. If you want to address the -real- racial problems in the country, address the -real- racial problems. They are plain as day and crying out to be addressed, and they are not lurking in the places that anyone is looking.

  • Pingback: Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    If we would only understand that people are not upset about the single killing of an unarmed Black man. They are upset about killing of an unarmed Black man. And they add to that the incarceration rate of Black men. And they add to that the enforcement of laws that target Black men. And they add to that the lack of jobs where many Black men live. And we could keep on going while some will never understand because they don't care about anyone but themselves and those in their group or they prefer the status quo.

    The writer here has it right. And we will never understand nor contribute our small part to solving our problems unless we reach out to those outside of our own group.

  • Michael Scaman

    I am a bit concerned over the recreational drug use of the young man and the use of the drug cocktail Lean he spoke of on his Facebook. The human costs of drug abuse, heightened paranoia and aggressiveness may have played a greater role than the media was willing to explore and more than willing to ignore.

    We don't know 100% what transpired. Since there were burglaries where suspects wore hoods in the area, I wouldn't say that profiling fits that well in this case. If Zimmerman was jumped from the bushes as claimed and almost killed or if he approached Martin in a confrontational way would make a bit difference and I don't think we can know 100%.

  • Anonymous

    I preface my comments by saying how awfully tragic this whole situation is. No matter our stances on race issues, the bottom line is that a mother and father have lost their child who was out for a snack run. Even if Zimmerman acted in self-defense--and I'm not saying whether he did or didn't--the whole scene is tragic for all parties involved, and should especially strike a chord with parents of all races.

    That said...

    Isn't it tragic, in one sense, that this particular case has captured the national stage as it has?

    Why does the mainstream media not care about Darryl Green???

    Could it be that Trayvon, having been killed by a Hispanic man (who later turned white to fit the liberal media's race narratives), captured the national stage in ways that others haven't *because* he was killed by a non-black?

    If we *really* want to affirm the sanctity of *all* life, of *all* those made in the image of God, then why is the strength of the outcry from the black community against intra-racial killing not as strong as the outcry against Zimmerman? Of course, some such outcry exists--many faithful black brothers have been addressing this issue for years.

    But there's a reason why comparatively common black-on-black murder, and the unspoken tragedy of Darryl Green, hasn't stricken the "public 'black' consciousness" in the same way as TM has.

    Could it be a desire, however subconscious, to *reify* racism in our country, because certain political powers depend on there being oppressed classes of persons?

    I don't deny, of course, that racism exists. I'm simply saying there's something...unfair...to the sanctity of black persons, by picking up *this* case and declaring it somehow more worth-while or representative of underlying realities when in fact most young black men are killed by other black men. Daily.

    I am white. One of my closest friends is black. I asked his opinion on the case. He said he didn't much have one. When I asked why, he said, "Black kids get killed every day. Mostly by blacks. It's tragic, but why hone in on Trayvon just because the media does?"

    Indeed.

  • Pingback: SiftingPoint | Trayvon Martin: Should We Move On?

  • http://www.thevinepetaluma.org Dave Weidlich

    "If you've experienced it, help those who haven't experienced it to understand."
    Thank you for writing this. I have not experienced racial profiling, but you've helped me understand.
    Let's not move on!

  • R Bonzetti

    I am a white male who has been the victim of unprovoked black on white violence 3 times in my life. I also live in a condominium and at various times over the years I and my neighbors have experienced episodes where there was a heightened level of burglary and vandalism in the neighborhood. My wife confronted a man who she believed was the thief who had been stealing from our neighbors' garages and told him to stay away or she would call the police. The man told her to leave him alone or he would "F***ing kill her." I later confronted the man and told him never to threaten my wife again and to stay away from our homes. He cursed at me and threatened me, but ultimately backed down. If he would have attacked me, I would fought back with all the force I could muster. Given my experiences, am I now allowed to identify with George Zimmerman? Can I expect the African-American community to "seek to understand" me? Or is this a one way street?

    On another note, I believe this would have gone very differently if 1) George Zimmerman did not have injuries consistent with his story, 2) there was not an eye witness who said Martin was on top punching Zimmerman; 3) Zimmerman had a history of racial animus (it was the opposite), and 4) the 911 call gave any indication that Zimmerman's surveillance of Martin was racially motivated.

    If the evidence was against Zimmerman, I believe most people would have been satisfied with a conviction. Unfortunately, this case has more in common with Tawana Brawley and the Duke LaCrosse players than race crimes of the 50's. I believe many people are weary of being asked to collude in mob rule with corrupt, race-baiting liars like Al Sharpton.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      I agree with your statement. Thanks for sharing it. Yours is the other side of the coin. You're right: understanding should be a two way street.

  • Steve Miller

    Christians are clearly called to sympathize and respond whenever there is social injustice around us. It's part of loving your neighbor and being light in a sin-darkened world. But, honestly, I'm having a little trouble with the national outrage of this situation. Clearly both principle characters carry certain levels of responsibility and both families will never be the same again. It's all tragic.

    But can I ask some questions that trouble me in the wake of all of this? Forgive me if I'm dense and just don't "get it", but ...

    Why was this case brought to such national attention and used as the symbol for racial tensions in America? Why hasn't Al Sharpton come to Chicago to represent "America's conscience" when 72 people were shot over the July 4th holiday weekend? Will the Attorney General challenge ALL people to accept personal responsibility for their actions? Will Stevie Wonder stop performing in ALL states where any social injustice occurs... regardless of what race is at fault?

    Why is it tolerable -- hardly even newsworthy -- when black-Americans verbally or physically attack themselves or white-Americans... but the Zimmerman case suddenly warrants national press in spite of a maternalistic jury -- who heard all of the evidence -- still coming to a clear decision that Zimmerman did not break the law. Why can blacks laughingly use the N-word against each other every day but Paula Dean loses her employment because of cultural insensitivities long in her past after being at gun-point? Is the law only just... is fairness only seen when it satisfies the unrest/anger of a particular social group?

    Admittedly, I'm confused.

    As a pastor, I'm convinced that social injustice will, unfortunately, always be part of the social fabric of our culture. I also believe that Christ is the only hope for the social peace of our world. Praying for the peace of America, is a little like praying for the peace of Jerusalem. It's magnetic north of our relational compass, but getting there will be filled with hills, valleys and bogs as we travel, I guess.

  • Jason

    Trip,

    I just wanted to take a minute and post something here. I am a white man. Five years ago I was in a Christian metalcore band that toured full time. I dressed much like your average metalcore kid. I had long emo looking hair, a lip peircing, a tattoo, and I dressed in mostly all black. I was treated in very much the same ways that you said you have been treated. There were many times that I was pulled over by the police simply for the way I looked and told to get out of the car. My car was searched and I was patted down each time in search of weapons or drugs even though I was perfectly compliant and courteous with the officers. I assume that the reason the officers did these things was because people that looked like I looked(like a metalcore kid) very often were involved in something illegal. I also experienced the same cold shoulders from people, even in churches, that assumed that the way I dressed indicated the type of character that I possessed. This might not have been a slight to me as much as it was a reaction to what these people had experienced from other people that presented themselves in the way that I did. Have you ever stopped to think that the reason you have been treated in those ways might not be because you are black, but because of the way that you present yourself in the way you dress? I don't know you personally, but I have seen quite a few press pictures where you are dressed very much like a thug. The same way I was dressed very much like someone that uses drugs and causes trouble on a regular basis. This has nothing to do with our skin color. A white man could dress like a thug and a black man could dress like a druggy. In fact, the one time I was robbed at gun point was by three guys that were dressed in the exact same way you are dressed in some of your press pictures. So I can relate to someone being uneasy at the sight of someone dressed in baggy clothes with a sideways hat in a bad part of town. But I assure you that if a white man were dressed the same way I would be just as uneasy. I am sure that many people reading this post have bad impressions of kids that dress the way I used to. I now work at a bank and wear slacks and a button up shirt most of the time. Ever since I have taken my lip piercing out, cleaned up the way I dress, and cut my hair, I have never had someone treat me in those ways. I would be willing to bet if you were to begin dressing and presenting yourself differently you would get a different reaction. I am not saying that it is necessarily right to judge people by the way that they dress and present themselves, but we all know that it happens and it is understandable. It is no sin to dress the way you do to be sure, just as there was inherently no sin in the way I dressed, however it did come with consequences.

    I know that you said that you are not interested in discussing the facts of the case Trip, but at the end of the day if we don't discuss facts, then we are left with only our subjective experiences and biases that we project on the case. The facts are that there had been a rash of break ins in zimmerman's subdivision by people that fit treyvon's discription. Treyvon became violent and attacked Zimmerman while yelling that he was going to kill him. Zimmerman defended himself and none of this had anything to do with race until the media imposed it on the situation. And there are many, many other facts that will lead you to the same conclusion. If you will take the time to research Zimmerman you will find a story about how Zimmerman worked with the NAACP to get justice for a black homeless man that brutally beaten by a rich white kid just for the fun of it. God is concerned with truth and we should be too. If our feelings do not line up with the truth we need to look inward to discern whether we are being deceived by our sinful hearts. People may feel like justice was not done by the verdict, but the facts state otherwise. I was very dissapointed in this article Trip.

    • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

      "Treyvon became violent and attacked Zimmerman while yelling that he was going to kill him. Zimmerman defended himself and none of this had anything to do with race until the media imposed it on the situation." ALL of that is supposition, by the way. No one knows whether that happened except for two people, and one of them is dead.

      And really? Your answer is wear different clothes?

      • Jason

        Actually it is not supposition. If you follow the facts of the case, forensic evidence from the gunshot showed that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman when he was shot. Zimmerman also sustained a broken nose and injuries to the back of his head, while Trayvon had injuries only on his knuckles. Not to mention the witnesses that said that Trayvon was on top were all very unsure when questioned, and at least one admitted that he could not be certain who was on top. The witnesses that claimed that Zimmerman was on top were VERY convinced in what they saw and did not waiver from that. All of this was consistent with Zimmerman's story that Trayvon was on top of him beating his head into the concrete. The statement about Trayvon yelling that he was going to kill Zimmerman did come from Zimmerman's testimony, however I do find it likely that a man that had been kicked out of school for fighting multiple times, and had just descibed Zimmerman using a racial slur would have said that. Especially since much of the rest of Zimmerman's testimony was confirmed by evidence. Not to mention A text conversation that had been released between Trayvon and a friend of his where Trayvon stated that he was going back to beat another student again because that student "didn't bleed enough." All of this speaks very much to Trayvon's character and likelyhood to be the aggressor in such a situation.

        Secondly, I find it HIGHLY unlikely that Zimmerman was a racist and profiled Martin since Zimmerman had worked closely with the NAACP to get justice for a homeless black man in his community that was beaten by a white kid. It is also very easy to see where the media along with Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton have projected a race element into this case that no one else has been able to prove.

        And yes, I do believe that if you present your self in a manner that is more acceptable in our society, you will receive more respect than if you wear clothes that are 5 sizes too large, a sideways hat, and speak in a way that is not clear. As I said above, I do not think that it is sin to dress this way, but it does carry certain consequences. How often do you see mug shots of murderers or robbers dessed nicely? So it is not unreasonable to be cautious of people dressed like this regardless of their race. However, I said that in response to what Trip said about himself, not the Trayvon case. Trayvon's clothing is not the reason he was shot. He was shot because he mercilessly beat a man to the point that the man feared for his life.

        As Christians we should be very interested in truth and justice. If anyone is willing to consider the facts of this case, there is only one conclusion you can come to. If you are interested, the entire case is documented very clearly on this website.

        http://theconservativetreehouse.com/

  • http://aapastor.com Daniel K. Eng

    I appreciate this post, especially the final paragraph. I think we can legislate all we want, but when it comes down to it, people's hearts need to change. And that'll happen one person at a time, as we have honest conversations and listen to one another.

  • Pingback: Articles From Around (feat. Lac Megantic & George Zimmerman Verdict) | Art of the Christian Ninja

  • Pingback: This Brother in Christ Says it Much Better than I Ever Could! | iconobaptist

  • Pingback: Racial Tension and Neighbor Love | First Baptist Church of Durham

  • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

    This was a great perspective, Trip Lee. I really appreciate what you do here and in your music.

  • LD GAUTIER

    I read your article, “Should We Move On.” I have pondered it for a few days.

    Some things that I found interesting:
    1. You assumed that Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal. How do you know that? From what I have read, Zimmerman thought the person was acting suspicious. There had been previous crimes in the neighborhood.
    2. I have smiled at people (of ALL skin colors) and they have avoided eye contact and rebuffed my greeting. I made assumptions, but it was NOT based on their skin color.
    3. I have been stopped by law enforcement and been treated rudely and I felt like they were treating me like I was a criminal. No, I was not handcuffed or shoved against a wall. Nor was I arrested.
    4. No, I have never had anyone clutch their packages as I passed by or react to me reaching for my cell phone.

    Profiling is real – but it is not limited to skin color. It is affected by multiple factors including gender, ethnicity, religion, place of birth, etc. Let me share some personal history. I grew up in an era when women were paid less than men for doing the SAME work, when women were questioned about getting married or getting pregnant when they applied for a job, when women were not allowed to work while pregnant, when women were not allowed to apply for certain jobs because they were women, etc. Those things happened to me. I voted for people who sought to change those laws. I voiced my opinions in the work place & via other forums. I communicated my concerns, worked toward change, and celebrated when change was made. It did not happen overnight. It took decades. I might also note that Zimmerman was 'profiled' as a white, vigilante, want-to-be cop.

    Until the black community accepts responsibility for their choices and actions, there are limits to what others can do for them. WE CANNOT CHANGE THE BLACK CULTURE. Only the black individual can institute personal change. Changing a culture takes time but it MUST begin with the individual. Until then, history and non-blacks will continue to be blamed for the difficulties of the black community.

    Race relations is a two way street. It requires prayer & empathy by BOTH parties. I cannot change history. It is time for healing. Pity, excuses, and blame do nothing positive toward race relations. They only fan the flames of blaming others.

    I am a strong supporter of our Constitution (for ALL Americans or ALL skin color) and our God Given Rights. Each of us has an opinion about this event & we are free to express it, as protected by the First Amendment

    Based on the evidence presented at the trial, I concur with the verdict reached by the jury BASED upon the law. Yes, it is a tragedy that a young man died. Yes, it is a tragedy that another young man has been targeted by the media, the DOJ, the NAACP, etc for THEIR personal agendas. Can you imagine being Mr. Zimmerman? He was convicted in the public media before there was a trial. The media ‘edited’ his remarks to project him as a racist and as racial profiling Martin. Thank GOD for the American system of justice. One may not always agree with the outcome, but it is the best available to us. The only perfect justice is that rendered by Almighty God. (I did not agree with the OJ trial outcome, but I accepted it.)

    There are lots of, “But, If only, Should have, Could have,” in this event. It is easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback.” Mr. Martin had every right to be out walking on a dark rainy night in any neighborhood. He had every right to go to a convenience store. He had every right to wear a hoodie. Mr. Zimmerman had every right to patrol his neighborhood. He also has to right to carry a gun and protect/defend himself. Was he to simply lie on the concrete and have his head pounded into the sidewalk (as evidenced by photographs)? Did he know whether Mr. Martin had a gun or not? I am amazed that so many seem to KNOW exactly what occurred on that evening! In reality, only Mr. Martin, Mr. Zimmerman, and God know exactly what happened. Everyone else develops an opinion based on what they have read, heard, seen, and personal experiences.

    These are just some of my thoughts about the article, the trial and all that has occurred. In my opinion, this entire case is nothing but political racism. It would NEVER have been a case except for the race baiting of the likes of J. Jackson and A. Sharpton. The interference of our president further served to create division and tension among our citizens.

  • Jim

    I have never been followed home from a store by a security guard, nor pulled over by a policeman other than for speeding. But I have often been assumed to be a racist, because I am a white person. Neither is fair, and both are offensive. But in some ways, both are EARNED. Here is what I mean. There were days, mostly gone by, when the actions of white folks, individually and through their representatives, deprived their black neighbors of political and legal equality, as well as their personal dignity as imago dei. In those days, as Thomas Sowell, an eminent black scholar, has related, the black family was more intact, and the black community more law-abiding, than whites. Unfortunately, while bible-believing whites were mostly sitting on their hands, progressives were advocating for equal rights based on social principles that are the direct legacy of Christianity, though, of course, they would generally have denied it. Largely due to the "War on Poverty" that they constructed, the details of which ignored Biblical principles, the black churches lost their status as the arbiters of acceptible social behavior, unless they adopted the assumptions of the progressives, because of the benefits handed out by government. The human heart being desperately wicked and extremely susceptible to perverse incentives, these programs led directly to a subsequent breakdown of the black family and a multi-generational proliferation of virtual "widows and orphans" and a smoldering resentment that presents in an array of social pathologies that lead to profiling. Such profiling may be at times inconvenient and unwarranted, but is often prudent. Jesse Jackson, who has made a very handsome living in the racial grievance business, in the process jettisoning his principled position on abortion in order to keep his place at the table, said that he crosses the street when he sees blacks presenting themselves a certain way. I rarely hear any black evangelical other than Vodie Baucham speak about that. If the black community at large returns to the noble social structure described by Sowell, I believe the culture has been prepared such that profiling of the type you reference will shrivel.

  • John

    If George Zimmerman did assume Trayvon was a criminal because of his race, why does that stereotype even exist? Why do some Americans fear the black male? I may be pegged as a racist for saying this, but to a certain extent some blacks in addition to whites are responsible for establishing that stereotype. The stats show that a way higher percentage of African American males are involved in criminal activity as opposed to white males. Is it assumed racism to believe that you are at a higher risk of being robbed or killed when around a black male, or is that what the percentages say? I feel terrible for even writing this, but to change the stereotype, more black males need to become the men that they were called to be. More white males need to become the men they are called to be as well. The reality of the matter is that a higher percentage of black kids will grow up without a father. No earthly father to raise the kids in the love of the Heavenly Father. Because of this, more African American kids will grow up and be involved in criminal activity. It has nothing to do with race, it has everything to do with the presence of a male role model. Instead of turning this into a battle of the races, we need to look at why the stereotype exists in the first place. From there, we can make some progress. I just don't think the best method of improving stereotypes comes from pointing fingers. Both sides need to make strides.

  • Pingback: Week In Links 07.19.13 | 31 Kings

  • Pingback: This and That 07-20-13 | The Thompsonian Times

  • Patty Griffin

    I have been thinking about what Obama said yesterday. People locking doors when a black man walks by their car, women pulling their purse up closer when they are next to a black man, etc. So anyway, I have been analyzing my social attitude. I have many friends and family members that were born of another race or even bi-racial and I love these people so am I unconsciously being a bigot?
    After researching some of what Obama said I can comfortably say loudly, “NO, I am not a racist!” I feel very comfortable stating that my attitude towards people is much more defined than that. I judge people by the way they are dressed and their attitude towards themselves. I don’t care what color they are, if a man approaches me and has the crotch of his pants hanging down to his knees. I will pull my purse in closer to protect it and myself. If you haven’t shaved in 2 days and taken a bath in 3 and you are approaching my car, I will lock my door.
    As a woman I have been educated to be on the lookout for my own safety. Be aware of who is around me and THEIR attitude. I am sorry if I have offended you by locking my door. Maybe you should take responsibility for your appearance, attitude, and actions instead of blaming me for preserving my right to feel safe. It is called fitting in to society.

  • Michael

    As protests increase around the nation’s cities, I can’t help but wonder how quickly stereotypes would dissipate if an equally intense furor surrounded Hollywood or rap artists who throw gasoline into the fire of prejudice with their content.

  • Pingback: on racism, skittles & listening | gathering moss

  • Marta

    Where I'm from, being a Christian is being a pariah, but I've never been ashamed of being one, until reading some of these comments.

    Pastors from this generation will be judged for not addressing the astounding racism (color-blindness, they call it now) in their congregations. I can't believe we're, in many ways, a step backward. In the 50s, at least people would recognize when they were racist.