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Dis-Heartened: On recognizing the disease that killed Trayvon

Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin Photo: Ricardo Levins Morales / Ricardo Levins Morales

Note: My friend Niyonu Spann, a Quaker healer who has been a very important teacher to me, posted the below piece on Facebook earlier this week. She graciously gave me permission to re-publish it here. Her reflection offers a sense of the unmediated pain of the George Zimmerman verdict and some sense of the deep need for healing from the disease of racism NOW.

The image is by artist Ricardo Levins Morales, whose powerful work you can see on his website. Used with permission.  - Lucy

On Sunday I was in Vermont hanging out at the home of a friend. The night before, having no phone reception we finally got hooked up to some wi-fi and there it was: I got word of the verdict "on Zimmerman." I became driven like some homing beacon had been set off. I had to get out of there. I had to get to a place where peaceful people could not be at peace with this...where folks did not need to debate "possible angles" of the case...where folks discern and recognize truth and act from there...where folks know what they know and their noses are in good working order and they had smelled this before. I drove three hours as far as New Haven, grabbed a bite and then continued the next 3 hours to get to LOVE Park. It didn't matter that the traffic was crazy on the NJ Turnpike because my senses were focused digesting every bit of this horrible awareness.

What some folks don't get is that it’s not that we are in shock or even surprised. This ...was another dip of the test strip into the fluids running through this society. And while waiting for the results to tell us the level of disease that still exists in the body, we did what most folks do during such waiting periods. We allowed ourselves to hope for some indication of progress toward healing, of some shared perception or illumination, even an indication of greater courage (heart). So, when we got the results, upon hearing this verdict, there was the letdown. You didn't hear the gasp (the drawing in of air) associated with shock or surprise. You heard instead the slow release of air associated with resignation and being DIS-HEARTENED.

One of my great teachers, Parvathi Nandanath Saraswati, says that "the heart is the part of us that understands without having to take apart." THE HEART KNOWS. This is why I refuse to engage in debate or discussions that draw the focus away from the knowing that comes through heart-understanding. When it comes to the murder of our son, Trayvon, I refuse to allow the focus to be distracted by bullsh*t like how tall or big our son was or whether he smoked this or that. I refuse to, for one moment to allow the script to be flipped where Trayvon, his parents, friends or community get put on trial!? Wake up!

Bottom line is: all our sons and daughters have the right TO BE...TO FULLY BE..TO LIVE and each one of them deserve to have that right protected.

Instead of treasuring, embracing or even allowing our son's and daughter's living, this verdict confirmed a continued disregard and further indicates a full-blown disease running through this society...a cancer destroying vital organs completely oblivious to the unavoidable fact that in so doing, it is killing itself.

Glad my son, Mai Sankofa Spann-Wilson made it to the Philly Protest as I remained stuck in traffic. How appropriate, indeed!


About the Author

Niyonu Spann is the director of the music group Tribe 1 and creator of Beyond Diversity 101, a five-day intensive experience grounded in faith that brings people together to acknowledge and manifest oneness.