“And then the eyes of both were opened, and they realized…” (Gen. 3:7)
The death of Trayvon Martin marked a period of painful awakening to the systemic violence African Americans face throughout the United States. His death and the acquittal of the man who shot him would give birth to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Similarly, Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, also served as a watershed moment in our nation, to the reality of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex that our nation has developed.
More recently, the defense of water and protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline have drawn attention to the disregard of indigenous peoples’ lands and the treaties signed to protect them.
Yet, to those who have historically suffered under these systemic injustices, the news of these events were not moments of great awakening, but rather painful reminders of the oppression and marginalization faced across history. Change will only occur when those in power are awakened. These moments that draw attention to the plight of our brothers and sisters are essential in catalyzing a response to end the injustices that exist.
As Adam and Eve had their eyes opened in that moment of our ancestral sin, many in our nation are being awakened by the social sins that have been committed for so long. The question we must ask ourselves is: what do we do now that our eyes are open?
- What injustices am I growing more keenly aware of?
- How am I being invited to respond to these injustices that I am becoming more aware of?
- How can I ensure that I do not turn a blind eye to these injustices?
Marcos Gonzales serves as the director of trauma-informed education at Chicago Jesuit Academy. His pursuit of a faith that does justice has taken him from the islands of Micronesia as a Jesuit Volunteer to the streets of Los Angeles working at Homeboy Industries as a case manager. He received his BA in theology and master’s in education from Loyola Marymount University and completed his master’s in social work at Loyola University Chicago.