Earnest Parenthood: In the Wake of Trayvon Martin’s Death

Proverbs 3:1-4 “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”

I can remember when my father and mother first shared these words with my brother and me. I also remember the looks in their eyes when they taught this scripture and especially the sense of urgency my father’s voice held as he repeated the verses over and over until my brother and I could recite it in unison with him.  It wasn’t until I spoke with my son and daughter a few days ago about Trayvon Martin (something they had been hearing in passing on the news) that I understood the meaning of the episode I described with my parents.  The job of mother/father is not an easy one.  Those that would seem best suited are frequently left frazzled and frustrated at the depth and intensity of the task.  Our hope is that our children will hear and heed our words and will stretch limits and reach beyond the barriers of circumstance and exceed our highest expectations of them.  So it is with meticulous attention to detail that we nurture, educate, polish and refine them.  We raise them to be respectful of themselves and others, in fact Christian parents teach their children to esteem others more highly than themselves.  Simply put we raise our children to be productive members of society.  Then we get hit with a grenade leaving us with parents who raised a respectful beautiful child facing the very real grief of losing him unexpectedly and unnecessarily all because of something he could not prevent, his sex and skin color. I could talk about how I fear for the safety of my son and daughter.  I could talk about how difficult it is to be black in a society that subconsciously fears you while simultaneously singing the songs of your humanity.  I could, but I won’t.  No, I will speak about how it is still my job to rear my son and daughter in the very real fear and admonition of Christ.  It is my job to earnestly and purposefully instill in them the foundational principles of Christianity so that they can make choices based on wisdom and not emotion. I can and will continue to teach them that it is a beautiful honor to be black and that in His wisdom and because of his love for beauty he created people of many shades and hues and he said about them all “Behold it is VERY good.”  I will continue to teach them that it is not wrong to love being black as long as you realize that your blackness makes you no better or worse than those who are not, it just makes you equally beautiful and yes FLY.  I will continue to teach my children “the rules.”  What are the rules you ask, they are the unwritten social constructs that black men and women have to live by because our safety and our lives depend on them.  I will also teach them that there is still a very real possibility that even when they do everything right it may still cost them but a good name is to be desired.  Dignity and self-respect come from living a life upright, the best way to fight and win whether in life or death is to live with the assurance that your conduct has been blameless.  For those who wonder how do we stop senseless killings, it comes with a change of heart until then, cherish your babies and train them up.


4 Responses to “Earnest Parenthood: In the Wake of Trayvon Martin’s Death”

  1. Nice Post. I would say that most of the songs they sing are about our inhumanity (i.e. best selling hip hop). Either way, the complexities of child rearing are perhaps even greater today, because unlike the previous generation, it is difficult to differentiate between those who hate us and those who like us. Both groups are prone to celebrate some element of our culture and being.

    • I concur the actual songs that are song are most explicitly about our inhumanity. Metaphorically, however, the “songs” are statements like: some of my best friends are, I don’t see color I just see people and we’re all the same inside. Our culture would have us think that we are beyond racial issues (post-racial) but the actuality we experience especially since Trayvon reminds us that the social behaviors our grandparents spoke of are at times very necessary to our survival…..Thanks for the comment.

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