Black Man Running

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I concur with those who say the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery trial represented “accountability” rather than “justice.” Accountability is perhaps the best remedy a civilized society can devise under the circumstances, the unbearable injustice of an innocent young person’s life taken for no reason other than the color of their skin—he was a “Black man running down the street.” That’s how one of Ahmaud’s killers described the event in progress to the 911 operator.  Unfortunately, in some quarters it is still considered a crime to be a Black man running FREE, meaning not enslaved and safely controlled by white men like themselves.  Is there any question that the killers’ actions harken back to the power and outright terror of the slave patrols of the plantation South?  

That’s what those three white bubbas (the defense team’s term, not mine) did to Ahmaud Arbery, they played slave patrol and hunted him down as if it were their civic duty.  And suffice to say, the slave patrols weren’t concerned for the safety and well-being of the people they hunted down.  Talk about a less than subtle reminder of why so many Black people still view the police as representing their enemies instead of their protectors!   Whatever the shortcomings of the police, even at their worst they can’t restore the world those bubbas long for, one in which the Black man is safely and securely subdued and poses no threat.  

Long, dirty toenails?

The defense attorney’s imagery was beyond a “dog whistle” or a “racist trope,” it was nasty and disrespectful to their clients’ deceased victim and just plain grotesque. When all else fails, see if you can appeal to the jury’s deeply held racism, the notion that a black man running down the street is a filthy pollutant that needs to be cleansed away. In this instance, thank goodness, it didn’t work.

How Dare a Black Man Run Free!

Those bubbas thought the cell phone video showing them chasing, cornering, and killing Arbery testified to their innocence, to their own victimhood: look what we had to endure, a Black man with the audacity to assert his freedom, and right there in our neighborhood in broad daylight!  How dare he believe that he’s our equal, that he has the same rights we have?  A Black man was running free and we rightfully put a stop to it; how could we be expected to do anything less than capture and kill him?  Surely you understand why we did it, why we had to do it.

No, fortunately the rest of America did not understand and neither did an all (but one) white jury in Brunswick, Georgia.  If those bubbas expected the law to protect them from a Black man who had escaped his rightful owner, they were sadly mistaken.  Even though the Arbery case was initially swept under the rug by two local D.A.s (one is now being indicted), the guilty men were finally held accountable for their actions.  Justice was lost forever when Arbery was killed, but we can all take a little bit of solace in knowing his killers will pay for their sick, ugly crime.

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