When Words Matter: For Ahmaud Arbery

This is something I cannot stay silent about.

By now, you’re probably aware of this, but for those who aren’t, earlier this week, we learned that a 25-year-old man named Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while out for a jog in Brunswick, Georgia by a father and son duo.

There are several aspects about this crime that is just plain messed up. Aside from the fact that another unarmed Black man was gunned down in broad daylight for no reason whatsoever, this isn’t even recent news. This happened over two months ago! The crime has come to the public conscious as of this week after a video recording (which I will not be re-posting or linking to) was released. The two men who killed him were roaming free since then until a few days ago when they were finally arrested.

While it’s good that these two were at last arrested, we’re not out of the woods yet. Just because they were arrested does not guarantee that they will be held fully accountable for what they’ve done, it does not guarantee that they can’t be released on bail, and the fact that their accomplice hasn’t been arrested yet is not good either.

On top of that, let’s not be blind to the fact that these men were arrested over two months after the fact. Had that video not been posted online and had people not demand for them to be arrested, they would still be roaming free right now. The justice system is that messed up, and there are people in Georgia’s law enforcement who need to be removed from service (or in their case, lack of).

If you’ve been following this constantly developing news story, then this is all stuff that you probably have heard already. So why rehash it here? Well, as encouraged by a fellow author this morning, I’m directing this message to the white community to speak out on behalf of Arbery and his family and friends.

While some of you have, many of you have not. Just in my social media feed alone, I’ve seen mostly radio silence from my white friends about this huge injustice. While silence may be a form of rebellion in some circumstances, you’ve got to understand that this is not one of them. What many of you may not realize is that by not saying or doing anything, you’re only making space for those who will allow such crimes to continue happening. You can help end this.

I really should not have to say this, but it should not just be solely on the shoulders of the Black community to fight against this. They have dealt with this too many times already. Why else do you think Black Lives Matter exist as a movement? It also shouldn’t just be other communities of color standing alongside them in support either. White people are just as obligated to speak out and take action for Arbery and all the other Black joggers who face similar dangers. This is the case instance where words actually matter.

Now obviously we can’t take to the streets and have marches for this due to COVID-19 impacting life as we know it. That doesn’t mean you should just sit there and do nothing either. Write in or call the law enforcement and tell them to do their job. Sign the petition. Run 2.23 miles in honor of Arbery (who, by the way, should have celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday). If you actually live in Georgia, more credit to you in getting the word heard. The point is, do something to help bring justice now and not let it be prolonged any longer than it already has. You realize that by letting those men roam free for that long, they’ve only endangered everyone else who has encountered them?

Those men should have been arrested and properly punished way before the shelter-in-place orders were declared for the United States. If you want to take it a step further, Arbery shouldn’t have been killed at all. He was just going out to get some exercise. That should not be a life or death situation.

To the white community, I challenge you to ask yourself what you plan to do. Are you going to do everything you have the capability of doing to speak out on behalf of Arbery, or are you going to continue to be radio silent about this? Just remember that by choosing the latter, you’re just making space for the likes of Arbery’s murderers to speak for you. This is a moment in time when words matter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: