Reshared on the anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, originally published May 8, 2020.
I witnessed a lynching today—it was unexpected, agonizing.
When I tried to breathe, I found chains holding my throat, preventing me from catching my breath. I felt the crushing weight of white supremacy, forcing itself on my body.
Fear raced up my spine as two white men with shotguns casually hopped off their trucks, and, within seconds, extinguished the life of another Black man as quickly as if he were an annoying caterpillar jogging down the sidewalk.
I imagined the fear he must have had as I watched him struggle with these sons of the south, the legacy of the founding fathers, these homegrown terrorists, for a brief moment before collapsing onto the pavement, roadkill. I felt myself falling with him violently as ancestral grief poured from my skin.
For 74 days, these terrorists have lived freely, uncharged, unbothered, undoubted in their cause until they were arrested and charged with murder. Seventy-four days and four hundred years, my people have endured this sin—a reminder of strange fruit and poplar trees. I am undone by the cold rage of white supremacy and the violence of white apathy.
People often try to school me on what racism is using bias and prejudice as their example when I call it out. To be explicit, racism is not a difference of opinion—it’s beyond “I dislike/hate you.” Racism is a systemic, social power construct rooted in the love of money and territory (power). It is exerting power and privilege to enact policies and practices in favor of one race and to the detriment of races deemed inferior. Prejudice and bias (assuming the only reason a black man running is criminality) led to the hunting and killing of #AhmaudArbery. Racism allowed them to do it and remain free.
The presumption of guilt that black men have to live with while doing the most routine and mundane tasks is why we have to remind you that #BlackLivesMatter. We never get the benefit of the doubt and have been killed doing everything, everything. It’s exhausting to have still to have this conversation.
I remember the palpable disappointment when we did not get justice for Trayvon Martin. I am happy that arrests were made, but I don’t trust a system that allowed these murderers to remain free for two months. I am also reminded that they wouldn’t be in jail if someone hadn’t leaked the video. Arrests, in this case, is not justice. These murderers are not in jail because the district attorney saw the video of the incident. Arrests were made because we saw the video, and public outcry forced the hand of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.