His eyes showed up on my screen two days ago. His smile caught my attention, because along with it were words of solidarity. To avoid death tolls and conspiracy theories, I no longer watch the news, so I was unfamiliar with his story. I clicked on what I thought was a news clip to find out what happened to young man with the handsome face. What I saw instead was a tape of his murder. What I saw made me physically sick. What I saw made my heart weep.
I was born in the South and I have always been proud of my heritage, but on this day, I am ashamed that we haven’t come further than this. Being raised in Atlanta during the 60s brings with it a certain sensitivity to racial prejudices. Racism is what I thought was a nasty scar in our history, an important era to study in order not to repeat it. Turns out I was wrong, it is not a scar but an open, festering wound.
As the mother of three young men around the same age, and I am appalled at the lack of justice. If one of my boys was shot in cold blood there would be immediate action, as it should be, no matter what color skin the son has. Not only is the crime horrible in this case, but the blatant disregard of the law for the perpetrators pours salt in the wound. When will we ever do the right thing? When will it ever stop?
It seems no matter how we try to put systematic racism behind us, it raises its vicious head again and again. I know it is not true only in the South, but it sure does seem to happen here more often. Here is where the seed was planted, and here is where it has taken root in the hearts of men. It is entrenched there. Without a change of heart, it will release its venom and poison the minds of those who harbor it.
Change has never been the strong suit of Southerners. We tend to hold fast to our ways. We are stubborn. Hard headed. Obstinate. Immovable. A change of heart here, will require a miracle. It is obvious we are in desperate need of one.
When we pre-judge someone before we know them, it is called prejudice. It is the cause of most conflict throughout history. Assuming we know the mind and heart of another person without actually getting to know them is as arrogant as it gets. Opening our eyes to see the insidious pride that is living in our hearts also requires a miracle. As long as we are blind, nothing will change.
So on his birthday, and only a couple of days from Mother’s Day, I offer a prayer.
Lord, I pray for a miracle. Open blind eyes. Change hearts. I pray that Ahmaud’s death is not in vain. That it results in open eyes and humble hearts. That we will examine ourselves and be honest with what we find. God, I ask for you to start with each individual. Start with me. Show us our sin so we may seek your forgiveness. Expose any of my thoughts that come from this seed. Pull up the roots of evil planted within us. Break the generational mindsets that lead to this curse we keep repeating. Help us to seek you and to open our hearts to your correction. Once again, I repent of my part in the system of injustice. Please God, heal us. Heal our land. Heal our hearts.
I pray for Ahmaud’s family. Oh God, may their tears water new healthy seeds. May their actions be bold. May their resolve for justice be strong. Hold them close to your heart. Give them strength to face this beast. Give them hope in the midst of their sorrow. Hold them as they grieve. Help them to know you understand what it is to lose an innocent son to violence. Share with them your heart of compassion. Embrace them with your arms, and hold them up in this time. Help them to be wise and keep them safe. Surround them with your defense. Protect them. Give them your words to open blind eyes. Amen.