by Gee Joyner
Rhetoric Race Religion Contributor
In ancient Jewish tradition, an animal sacrifice-- most often a lamb-- was used as an offering, a tithe if you will, for God to illustrate humankind’s appreciation for the blessings they received from the omnipotent and beneficent Creator, or even a ‘Forgive Me’ card for immoral behavior, sins, and human transgressions. (Hosea 14:3 is referential evidence that Ancient Jews eventually ceased killing innocent beasts for sacrificial offerings—“ Take with you words, and turn to the Lord. Say to him, forgive all iniquity and receive us graciously, so we will offer the words of our lips instead of calves.”)
Though other animals were used for sacrifices, such as goats and calves, the lamb has become a metaphorical symbol in popular culture and modern History more than likely because of its attributes of docility and timidity that evoke emotions of sympathy and empathy when one identifies another as being a ‘sacrificial lamb.’ Some cultures, such as the Mayans and Aztecs, even went as far as to not only sacrifice beasts, but also humans to their ‘Gods’ as a means of offering recompense for sins or gifts that would satisfy the Gods and keep them safe from impending danger. On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, a ‘Captain’ of a neighborhood watch program in The Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community twenty minutes north of Orlando, Florida, located in Sanford, Florida, murdered, or sacrificed, a 17-year-old Black American teen at the altar of U.S. prejudice and racism.
From Numbers 7:57 to Revelation 5:13, one can find numerous references of a ‘lamb’ and the slaughter thereof, yet Revelations Chapter 5, verse 13, really symbolizes the death of young Trayvon. The text states, “In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” And this is what Black Americans, and even non-Black Americans, will exclaim when remembering the legacy of the young Trayvon Martin. We will exalt him because his bravery in the face of a murderer with premeditated intentions. We will uphold him and place him in the clouds with Emmett Till, who was also killed by racist monsters with malevolent intentions. We will contrast his willingness verbally to question the paranoia of Mr. Zimmerman by rebelling against authority just as the Christ rebelled against the Roman Empire and the tradition of Jewish exclusionary practices that exhibited prejudice towards Gentiles.
Now, by no means am I positing Trayvon Martin as a Christ-Like figure who has died for the sins of humankind in order to save them from the fiery lakes of Hell, but we can juxtapose his significance in the continual struggle for African American equality in the United States to the efforts of Jesus Christ to free man from his sinful ways and lead him down the path of human, if not Godly, righteousness. Jesus Christ was tried and convicted for claiming to be the Son of God, while Trayvon was murdered, gunned down in the cloak of night by a vigilante night watchman for essentially claiming his innocence of being a criminal; “Why are you following me?” which an anonymous girl who was on the phone with Travyon at the time, to me, is similar to Christ’s assertion that he was the ‘Son of God’ and had done nothing to deserve being accosted by Pontious Pilate’s Court just as Martin had done nothing to be relegated to the status of ‘criminal’ by Mr. Zimmerman.
While there may never be any concrete answers as to why this happened to Trayvon, I do believe the masses of Black Americans who have been unjustly profiled as delinquents, thieves, thugs, criminals, and ne’er- do- wells know why Zimmerman did this to Travyon— it was the direct correlation to the creation and perpetuation of the derogatory stereotype of the African American in America. For centuries, this has been the root cause of instances of mistreatment, and, in this case, unjustified killing of individuals of the darker hue. Many people only see the stereotype of the Negro, rather than the character of the human being, thus the stereotypes that have permeated the psyche of Americans, both Black and White, Asian and Hispanic, cause individuals to prejudge the Black American and label them as the aforementioned culprits of skullduggery and mischief that I mentioned in the lines above.
Hopefully, and from the attention this tragedy is receiving from national media outlets, both visual and print, as well as social networking sites, Trayvon’s death will serve as another turning point, just as the ghastly lynching of Emmett Till provided a launching pad for the success of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and prove to be an intricate piece of evidence that proves that the Black American still has miles to go before we sleep in the bed of equality, societal acceptance, and civil rights. We must remember that Trayvon Martin, and all of the unnamed Blacks who have died behind racist intentions, did not die in vain. He died, involuntarily, for the ‘cause.’ His blood will scream out from that Floridian soil and protest against the demonic spirit of racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Though I am saddened at the death of this young man, who could be my son in 14 years, I have peace within my soul because I know that there is “wondrous working power…in the precious blood of the Lamb.”