Talking about Trayvon Martin

The killing of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American, in Sanford, Florida, has gained national media attention over the last week. The circumstances leading to the young man’s death are still under investigation, but the case brings to the forefront issues of racism and racial discrimination. As we examine our own prejudices and look at our communities — where we live, where we work, where we worship — we can identify examples of discrimination and racism. Talk with young adults about this case and ask them about their reactions. Have any of them signed an online petition or taken other steps to engage in the national conversation about this case?

Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan is one place to turn in the Bible for an example of loving all of our neighbors. You might use this parable (found in Luke 10:25-37) to talk about racism today. Ask young adults to imagine that this story is taking place today and the injured man is of a different racial/ethnic background than the other people in the story. What do you imagine the interactions between the injured man and the man who helps him, the innkeeper, and the religious men who pass him by might have been like? What did they say in response to what they saw? How does Jesus call us to respond?

Also talk about the opportunities you see in your community to work for racial justice or racial reconciliation. What steps might you take to become involved in conversations about racial justice individually or as a group? What is your parish already doing in these areas? How might you connect with other faith-based groups or community organizations doing this important work?