“Lesbian Murdered.” What if that was all the news headlines said? I have a feeling that most of the progressive community would be up in arms and ready to fight. There would be petitions and rallies demanding action. We would invoke the name of God and whatever else we could get a hold of to demand justice. Many would sacrifice our time in front of our favorite television shows and movies to push for accountability. Tonight, a lesbian will be murdered and nobody cares.
The conversation about justice begins to change when the word “Black” is placed in front of “Lesbian Murdered.” From domestic violence to demise at the hands of the police, black lesbians in this country have to worry about a frequent and large variety of murder possibilities. The progressive community cares very little about this situation. For whatever reason, we have a fundamental inability to acknowledge and deal with the racism in our own hearts. We believe that we are not like that. Let me assure you, we are like that and the road to true racial healing is paved with acknowledgement.
The conversation changes even further when “Convicted Killer” is placed between “Black Lesbian” and “Murdered.” All bets are off when you talk about killing convicted killers. We assume that blood is required of those that kill. I think we get this from flawed atonement theories that hold that Jesus died on the cross as a substitutionary atonement for our sins. We often assume that God requires blood for sin. I think God is more interested in love and we fail to show it every time we execute someone.
Lisa Coleman is the black lesbian who will be murdered and we are the ones who do not care. We point to the murder of 9-year-old Davontae Williams and say that Coleman deserves to die. We might be right. The death of young Williams was particularly heinous. But the bigger question is: Who deserves to kill her? The convicting words of Jesus in John 8:7 come to mind, “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone…”
One week ago, a young woman approached me outside the Polunsky Unit. Each month, I visit death row inmate Will Speer. The woman quietly asked, “Will you stop by the window where Willie Trottie is meeting with family and offer him a blessing before he is executed?” I told her I would. After my visit with Will, I stopped by the window and made the sign of the cross on Trottie. I also offered a fist of resistance. With a deep confident smile, Trottie thanked me and assured me that he was ok. I knew that was going to be the last time I saw him. I will never forget interacting with a child of God that I knew was going to be murdered. Less than seven hours later, Trottie was dead.
In Texas, a similar scene will play out again today. We will murder Lisa Coleman. We will kill her because she is black and we are racist. We will kill her because we perceive her to be a woman and we are sexist. We will kill her because she is transgender and we are transphobic. We will kill her because she is poor and we are classist. We will kill her because she is a lesbian and we are homophobic. We will kill her because we think we have the right to murder a child of God once again. We will be wrong.