Whose murder “matters?” Victoria Greene’s son, Emir, was killed in 1997, one of countless victims society ignores. Now her ministry is to support families of murder victims and bring attention to the fact that every murder is real.
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I have five children. I have only one son: Emir. And Emir was murdered in 1997 when he was twenty years old.
Every Murder is Real
After he was murdered, I was devastated. I didn’t want to live anymore. It was so painful I could not imagine living through that kind of pain and I did not want to live anymore.
The young man who murdered my son was only 19. Emir was 20, he was 19. When the jury came back with the sentence of “found guilty for 1st degree murder,” his mother screamed and cried and it sounded exactly like my scream and my cry when I found out my son was murdered.
The Beginning of a Ministry
I just felt a calling to tell my story. My daughters and I, we sponsored two major conferences on drug-related homicide. I knew that this was God because I could not stop. I had friends after I had my first conference that said, “Well, OK. This was great. But it’s kind of morbid. Why would you want to keep doing this? Let it go.” I was like, “Well, where is it going?” You know, “Let it go.”
So sometimes I would say, “You know, maybe they’re right. Maybe this should be it.” And then when I would say that, maybe a week or a month… I would get a call from someone—a friend or associate—and they would say, “I have a mother who’s lost their child. They’ve been murdered, can you talk to them?” “I have a Father whose daughter has been killed. Can you talk to them?”
And I said, “You know what? This is what God wants me to do. And if you don’t want to be my friend, so be it. You don’t have to be my friend.”
So that’s how it was for me. I lost some friends. Murder is scary for people.
The Hierarchy of Murder
There’s a hierarchy to murder. If you are white and affluent, your murder means something. You could have been a professional. You could have been an artist. You could have been the President. So your life is really… “oh my God! You were murdered.”
But if you are a minority, of color, African American, Latino… then you must have caused your own murder. You were doing something. So that’s your fault.
And my answer was, “Every Murder is Real.” It’s real pain. It’s real suffering. It’s real loss. It does not matter. That person was human.
So that’s why its called Every Murder is Real. That is also the name of my son who was murdered when he was twenty years old. His name is Emir.
Activism as Worship
The thing that I find really attractive about Quakerism is the fact that my activism, my work with E.M.I.R. is worship. Actually, one of my first gatherings, my workshop was “Spirit-led Activism”. That is what I find very attractive, because its not separate. You just don’t go to church on Sunday and pray and sing and do what you do and then the rest of the week, you’re a jerk. Or your work is separate and the way you act at work is not how you act in church.
And so that fact that all of it is meaningful and all of it is worship is what attracts me. When you talk about “holding people in the Light”, who wouldn’t go for that?
Even though it is difficult. Even the idea is revolutionary for me.
When I get up in the morning and get myself ready for the day, I say a prayer. “God is in me, through me and all around me.” I go into the world giving love and receiving love and looking God in everyone. So when I do that—when I go out into the world and I’m not looking at your clothes and I’m not looking at your hair or what station in life are you—and I’m able to look people in their eyes and smile and greet them, and not be afraid of them… because a lot of what happens is fear. Fear of who we don’t know.
So if you can see the God—even though you might not actually see it—but it’s there.