When I go running, a lot of privilege comes with me. Despite the fact that I run late at night and have fairly frequent encounters with law enforcement I’m never afraid for my life. I never worry that I will be the victim of a lynching. Ahmaud Arbery did not run with that same privilege, and violent racism ended his life at 25. As I’m writing this, it is his birthday and a call has gone out to say his name and tell his story. I’m also asking my fellow white people to take this time to re-commit to making racism our responsibility to dismantle.
On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, went jogging. Two white men – a former police officer and his adult son – grabbed a gun, jumped in their truck, chased him down, and shot him dead. Despite the fact that the older man literally had blood on his hands, the police let both men go. They called Arbery’s mother and lied to her (telling her that her son had been involved in a burglary and was killed by the homeowner.)
Until a graphic video of the events surfaced (possibly taken by an accomplice of the two white men) and led to a public outcry, the kilers faced no consequences (with police claiming at one point that it was legal as a “citizen’s arrest” because they believe that Arbery was tied to burglaries (a crime which, I’ll point out, does not carry the death penalty.) Finally, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael have been arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault.
As white people we have to understand that one of the ways that privilege works is to keep us unaware of the experiences that we don’t have, which means that when it comes to racism we often don’t know what we don’t know, and we need to take responsibility for doing the research and work to end our own ignorance. I am sharing some of the work that Black people have done around Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. Please read, listen, and look for opportunities to support these folks and pay them for their work.