The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
“his first words: Don’t Be Afraid
a black boy jogging in the morning
There is an essential difference between running
and running for your life.”
On the 23rd of February 2020, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, decided to take a walk like any individual would, not knowing that this basic activity would lead to his demise. He was an unarmed black man, fatally shot in a neighbourhood near Brunsick in Glynn County, Georgia in the United States of America. Ahmaud was confronted by three armed residents – Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory. These two white men had weapons, were driving in a pickup truck together with William “Roddie” Bryan, who followed Ahmaud in a second vehicle. Arbery toward the left front of the pickup truck and he met the bullet that ended his life, shot by Travis McMichael.
It took two months for these men to be arrested and Ahmaud’s trial has since begun. On October 18th, jury selection took place for the state trial against the three men. As proceedings occur, it is clear that there are many issues that need to be discussed. I will quote United States Representative Karen Bass on the murder trial of Ahmaud: “things are off to a bad start”. In her interview, she highlights a crucial aspect of this trial: the selected jury is comprised of solely white people. This issue reflects the prevalent issues when it comes to justice for black individuals. Furthermore, as the trial progresses, we’ve witnessed the attorney of the white men – Attorney Kevin Gough – stipulate that he doesn’t want “any more black pastors”. This was said in the courtroom after the Rev. Al Sharpton sat with the slain man’s family. “Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have,” Gough went on to state. “And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more black pastors coming in here … sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jurors in this case.” It is interesting to me, that in order to prevent justice for the black people, there are certain extremities that will be taken. Their favourite method seems to be division and separation.
In 2020 and throughout the years, the world has witnessed countless killings of black people at the hands of white individuals. It is rooted in our history and day-to-day lives. We especially have seen a surge in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Simply explained, this movement is a “decentralized political and social movement against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people”. It is crazy to me, how, after so many years, that it is still necessary for black people to cry out needing their lives to be recognised as valuable and worthy of protection. Hate crimes (let’s call it what it is ) like Ahmaud, are witnessed daily and it is found that when we raise our plea for our lives to be valued it is matched with, “#AllLivesMatter”. The sad reality is not all lives matter until black lives matter. It is extremely petty and ridiculous that for centuries our cries and pleas for equal recognition are seen as “being stuck in the past” or us being “unwilling to move forward”. Imagine that I push you to the floor each and every day and then I say to you, “No, that was yesterday- stop overthinking it.” Then I push you to the floor again. That is a similar concept. There is a continuous cycle of pain, deprivation and realities that exist time and time again but when it is raised, it’s a prevention of future mobilisation, but the exact opposite is true.
These men on trial, Gregory McMichael (65), his son Travis (35) and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan (52) were arrested in May last year. Mr Bryan joined the McMichaels in their pursuit of Mr Arbery. They each face nine charges, including murder and aggravated assault. And they still have the audacity to plead not guilty. I don’t blame them: I think them pleading “not guilty” is a smart tactic considering the justice system and odds are on their side. Although there is video evidence, they may just as well get off. These are the privileges of being white. They still maintain that they have a great shot at winning this trial because as the story goes, the black man’s life is nothing in comparison to that of the white man’s.
To wrap up, I will quote Ahmaud’s mother: “I hope that in losing Ahmaud, that people that look like Ahmaud will be able to jog and be free and not be worried about being chased with guns and being killed.”
I will be following the trial as the events unfold and hopefully the community and family of Ahmaud, and black people as a whole, receive the justice that they deserve.