I think each one of us who has struggled with the tragic death of Trayvon Martin would appreciate the insight of one of my rabbinic colleagues which I share below. It was written by Rabbi Karen Bender shortly after we all learned of the George Zimmerman verdict.
“Let’s put it simply: were there no racism, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. I was neither a juror nor an attorney nor a judge. I don’t have all the arguments and I don’t know all of the facts and details. But common sense connects the dots. Racism + “Stand your ground” + the American love of guns = dead Trayvon. When racism is overcome in this country, we will know it because we won’t be overcome with embarrassment, sadness and anger the way we are today, at the news of the perpetrator’s acquittal. There is a black cloud in the air tonight that is resonant of Rodney King and the absurd arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, four years ago, who made the mistake of being black while “breaking in” to his own Cambridge home. We will know when racism has been eradicated when we stop having to confront these tragic and outrageous episodes. It’ll happen when, as the Talmud implores, we make a blessing upon seeing someone who looks different from us. Baruch ata Adonai m’shaneh et habriot. Blessed is God who diversifies the products of creation.”
May each one of us do our share in bringing about a world in which the diversity of who we are becomes but a reflection of the wonder of God’s work.