Today on CNN Trayvon Martin’s father said that “this jury did not consider this case from his son’s perspective”. He is right. However, what he did not say was that they really could not do that. They could only understand it from their life’s understanding and perspective of the facts presented to them. Let me use some of Ron Hall’s book “What Difference Do It Make?” to help us in this explanation.
Ron’s book is about a man named Denver Moore, a black friend, who tells the story of his life. Some of these moments are very revealing about the separation between all of us. Denver says: “I was born in Red River Parish, Louisiana, in 1937, a time when whites was whites and blacks was colored. Officially, there wadn’t no slavery, but that didn’t mean there wadn’t no slaves.
We was sharecroppin on a plantation down near Coushatta. When you is croppin, here is how it works. The man that own the plantation give you everything you need to make a cotton crop, ‘cept he give it to you on credit. Then you plant and plow and chop cotton till pickin time. When you bring in that cotton, you s’posed to split that crop down the middle, or maybe 60/40, and the man take his share and you take yours. ‘Cept somehow it never did work out that way ’cause by the time you pay the man back for all he done loaned you on credit, ain’t nothin left outta your share a’ the crop. In fact, most a’ the time, you in the hole, so you got to work another season on the plantation to pay back what you owe.
I worked like that all the way till the 1960’s, all without no paycheck. Then one day when I was grown, I realized I wadn’t never gon’ get ahead. I wad’t never gon be able to pay the man back what I owed. “
This is the first part I want to share with you tonight. Can you imagine that you will have to work very hard all your life and never break even, never get ahead. No one is going to listen, really listen, nor give you a chance. He said, “No body is going to give you a job that paid enough for you to get a place to stay when you done told them you use to be a slave on a plantation. They would throw you a dollar every now and then, and say “Here’s a dollar. Good luck and God bless.” What he is saying is summed up in his next words: “Hope flew out the window. For most of us there came a time when nobody was willin to take us in. Nobody was willin to help in no kinda way. All the doors was slammed in our faces, and the next thing you know, we just sittin on the curb with every-body passing us by, won’t even look at us. And once that happens, people rather come up and pet a stray dog than even say hello.
Even when you see those homeless folks on the street that look real cheerful and happy, that’s just a mask. Underneath is a swamp of misery, but they put on that mask so they can get through the day”.
I read some of Denver’s story and I began to realize that what was missing was hope of things ever changing or people ever caring. Tonight let me leave you with this thought: spend time pondering how you think your life would be if you were in Denver’s shoes: No job, no hope of ever getting a job. Nobody willing to help you out of the pit you are in. Imagine how your life would be right now if you were Denver. It is easy to see that we don’t understand.
Grace and Peace
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