(Gentle Readers: For only the second time in this blog's history, someone else is writing today's post. This was written by my friend Belinda Burston who has joined in on the Black Armband campaign. Thanks to Belinda for this ...)
A Sign of Hope
I’ve been wearing a black armband in solidarity with others mourning the death of Brent Martin for three days.
But I confess that when I first read the story of Brent’s death, I felt a little like the man who called Dave on his cell phone yesterday; overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s sorrow and wondering how protesting one death could make a difference.
That was before I read Dave’s post, Brent a Brother, about the middle aged black lady, who’d said that she wanted a world, “Where you don’t hurt a brother.” Her words made me feel ashamed of my helpless attitude and I was in.
The next morning, Sunday, I wore my armband to church. I taught a Sunday School class of 16 children aged 6-10 years old, including 4 of my grandchildren, that God created everyone equal and precious for who they are, regardless of difference.
When I veered from the curriculum and told them why I was wearing a black arm band, I saw eyes light up with interest and curiosity. They responded with open hearts.
“How did they do it?” one boy wanted to know. I exhaled slowly at a question I’d hoped they wouldn’t ask, but they deserved an honest answer.
“With their fists.” I said. The kid’s faces were sober. Then they began to talk about taunts they’d experienced for small differences; this was something they could relate to and it mattered to them. Spontaneously they volunteered ideas of what they could do. One girl said her aunt could write about it in the paper. I asked them several times if they remembered his name and their voices chanted, “Brent.”
I told them it was important to remember.
Frances, my friend, came into the class and her face screwed up in concern at the sight of the arm band. When she read the article I’d brought with me she gasped in horror and disappeared, returning soon afterwards with a fuzzy black hair scrunchy on her arm. “How could I not?” she asked.
The next day I went to the office wearing my arm band on a white blouse. Was it Canadian politeness or did they think it was a new fashion accessory? We were all busy, and no one asked…
Today I did an interview and had a meeting…no one asked…I wanted someone to ask.
But tonight, a gathering of friends at our house for dinner and finally someone asked, “What’s with the arm band?” and I handed them the article with the story and told them.
With us at the table were two of the grandchildren who’d been in the class on Sunday. I asked them if they remembered his name.
Tiffany-Amber’s gentle eyes squinted as she tried to remember. “I wrote it down,” she said, and I loved her for doing that.
And her younger sister Victoria called out, “I remember. His name was Brent.”