Prayer for hope

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punished…” William Shakespeare, Act 5 of Romeo and Juliet
“America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.” Allen Ginsberg
The morning after a tragedy is quiet on many levels.  There is the usual quiet of mornings.  Also there is the lull of reflection.  Of course, there is the silence associated with various emotions: the numbness that accompanies grief, the tense muteness preceding or following rage, the stillness of shock. So often we are at a loss after a tragedy, however close we may have been to those involved.  I didn’t know Trayvon Martin and yet I, along with millions of others this morning, feel the weight of his loss and the failure of the court system in freeing the man responsible for his death. 
When I first wrote about this case over a year ago (Media misrepresentation in Trayvon Martin case), I pondered how my distance from the events led to my misunderstanding and confusion about the events as news. I also pointed out how the many layers of my life experiences impacted my thoughts.  At that time, I knew Trayvon Martin would impact us as a nation.  This morning, I realize Trayvon Martin has impacted me as a person. 

As a mother, as a woman of color, as an educator of at-risk youth, and as a proud American, the verdict delivered  in the trial of George Zimmerman exacerbates the fear, worry, and heartache I have about race relations in my country.  I live in a country where children can be attacked simply because how they look. 
Talented Sebastien De La Cruz, aka El Charro de Oro, came under fire for paying homage to his Mexican culture as he performed his National Anthem. 

Brand-name cereal Cheerios shut down online comments on their YouTube video feed after their charming commercial featuring a biracial family inspired racist reactions. 

I live in a country in which a TV show featuring several Latinas as sexy maids reaps high ratings and positive buzz despite the stereotypes perpetuated. 

So while we battle these issues in the media and the social networking worlds, I trust that our legal system will not be affected by racist images and misconceptions.  I am crushed when I am disappointed. 

Somehow, I carry and hold up hope.   As an artist, I choose to embrace all people as we come together creatively to build community. 

 As a mother and girlfriend, I choose to stay in my community because it offers an opportunity for my daughter to grow up in a different America, one where all people can live together. 
I choose hope. 

This morning, I offer a prayer for hope, the hope that Trayvon Martin’s death was not in vain, that as a nation we recover from this tragedy in the spirit of reconciliation, and that the families most affected by this loss find peace.  

Mixed messages

Images are powerful.  We base our first impressions on appearances.  And unlike the Dramatics song, what we see is not always what we get or, to be clear, what we ultimately understand.  Sadly, it is easier to have impressions over understanding. In the case of Trayvon Martin’s death, that problem is made worse by the mixed messages the media has put forward. 
I have responded to this case in a number of ways. As a parent. As an educator for over a decade and former assistant principal.  As a woman of color well-aware of racial tensions/conflicts in 2012 America.  This is not an easy case and I’m savvy enough to know that the media plays a role in what impressions and information I have about the case. I initially didn’t want to write about the case simply because there was too many ways I could reflect on it.  Recent findings have complicated my feelings yet motivated me to weigh in on those mixed messages and feelings.  
I admit when I heard about a security guard shooting an unarmed young black man, I immediately thought racist in a Southern state takes advantage of a poorly written law to shoot without good reason.  Then when my brother sent me an early morning text last week, “Zimmerman is half Peruvian,” my heart sank.
I told my parents and they immediately began a debate on the complexities of Peruvian race relations. I found the linked Suzanne Gamboa article but it only added to the conflicting thoughts I have. article about Zimmerman’s ethnic identity

This morning, I have seen the more recent pictures of both Zimmerman and Martin.   I feel bamboozled, fooled, naive.  Like millions of people every day, I have accepted what is presented in the news as fact.  But as my own class discussed, fact is not always truth.  Now I have a less menacing yet fuller picture of the real George Zimmerman, not the boogeyman the court of public opinion would have me dismiss.

As for Trayvon Martin, I no longer only see the memory of a baby-faced child but a more honest picture of a real teenager. Unlike Geraldo Rivera(why does he have to be Latino? somebody take him back), I am not quick to judge Trayvon. Wifebeaters, grills, and tattoos have no bearing on this case.  A young man is dead, another man has lost his reputation and safety, possibly his life, and two communities stand to lose common ground over this case.

On a more personal level, I can’t help but wonder how many people will ponder this case in depth.  I am saddened and moved by this case to be more analytical and reflective. I can’t let the media or even my own first impressions be my guide.

Dirty thieves!

I have no respect for thieves. Sure I shoplifted some Barbie doll shoes from Gemco and some Jolly Ranchers from the local 7-11 when I was a little girl. But once I started to think for myself and choose right from wrong, I have never taken something that didn’t belong to me, be it cash or another lost item. I’m the person who returns your wallet or purse to lost and found or customer service. I’ll be the one to help you look for your sunglasses or child’s toy under the BART seats or at the movies. So it irks me that I’ve been the target of credit card thieves more than once.

This morning as I checked my ever-depleting checking account(long distance romance doesn’t come cheap, LOL), I saw a morning purchase at Macy’s. Now I love Macy’s as much as any other woman with fashion sense but I’ve been in my office all morning, processing suspensions and trying desperately not to jump out of my chair to rail against the barrage of whining parents in our lobby. I spoke to a bank representative and she confirmed that a purchase was made with my ATM card at a Macy’s in Ohio. Strangely, my unsigned and very worn ATM card is in my Coach wallet where it always is, along with my laminated affirmations and prayer cards, my health insurance card, my license, my St. Christopher medal, and for once, because God knows I’m always broke despite my many-figure salary, some cash and change. Someone out in the Midwest has made a counterfeit copy of my card and is shopping at Macy’s while I earn an honest living.

So why am I smiling? We have canceled the card and I’ll cut my copy into bits in a few minutes. But I smile because no thief can take the wealth I have.