In 2012, my heart was broken open by the shooting of Trayvon Martin
, a 17-year old black male who was visiting relatives in a gated community in Florida. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie in the rain, returning from the local 7-Eleven with a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona fruit juice. He was shot around 7:15 p.m. by a 28-year old man of mixed race who was the neighborhood watch coordinator. Trayvon was unarmed. It was the start of #BlackLivesMatter. I wrote the following poem as a way to express some of my anguish of this event:
Our systems failed you;
it’s a flaw of its design.
Inherent in the rules is the brokenness.
Truth be told,
it was our hearts that failed you long ago.
Our eyes are blind to the plight of the other.
We are lost
in our imaginary separateness.
Even before that day, we failed you.
But today, it was broken open
for all who can see, to see.
The story of love has always been about
awakening to injustice
poured out on the powerless.
Will we ever learn the lesson?
Not in our logic, but in our hearts
Not just from our lips, but in our actions
Not in our anger, but in our tenacity to forgive
And still scream from our hearts,
“Where is love?!”
We start anew today and look for
the courage to cry, and
the resolve to teach those who can learn
the lesson of “United” in a spirit of
My friends, I continue to be heartbroken. Over the past eight years, this poem could’ve been written and dedicated to so many other people of color who have shared a similar fate. I’m at a loss and yet, I vow and strive to be part of the solution, in whatever way I can today, tomorrow, and the next day. I leave you with this prayer: Oh divine source of all goodness, please break us open and let your righteous anger live through us in love, vulnerability, and a deep connection with the most tender and sacred parts of ourselves and one another. Love to all.