Shocked but not Surprised

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

#areweinthistogether, #thisaffectseveryone, #reachpastracism #jogginginjustice

Watching Ahmaud Arbery's murder felt as though I was kicked in the stomach. Unwittingly, I've been cast in the movie Groundhog Day, just with a different victim in the starring role each time.

George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Our short attention span allows the world to move on as soon as the next "big story" appears. That "forget about it, it didn't happen to you or happen in your city" mentality perpetuates travesties like this. It can happen anywhere, to any family, because humans live everywhere, and it is human nature that drives actions like these. The mindset to just read about it, watch the news for a few days and then move on won't bring resolution to the issue.

Those saddened by these events may be unable to express those feelings without judgment or condemnation from others. The outcome of an atmosphere of non-compassionate listening are some people becoming bitter, resentful, or repressing their emotions until another incident occurs. Those grieving may be surrounded by people who don't care about these egregious acts, making it challenging for affected persons to express the toll of the emotional impact in healthy ways. People may demonstrate their lack of concern by comments such as "life happens, they must have done something wrong, why are you making such a big deal about this, why do you even care, etc..."

I support law enforcement, the constitution, the military, and I honor my flag, etc. however, I DO NOT support bigotry, racism, hatred, or xenophobia. Far too many injustices occur simply because someone is different. I wish my melanin was not such a threat to others, provoking fear, resulting in violence, and discriminatory acts.

I'm disgusted by inequity in the justice system when things like this murder go unpunished for months due to favoritism and some arbitrary law on the books. Imagine black people's anxiety and fear in Georgia, mindful of the state's citizen's arrest policy, enabling those with ulterior motives to shoot at will. A 911 caller said, "He's running." When is running a crime? There was no prosecutable crime[1], committed by Ahmaud. (Update-video showed he trespassed on a new home construction site stealing nothing and causing no damage.) Despite his mental health or past behaviors, which some may allude to, he bears no responsibility for the circumstances leading to his death.

Street knowledge and situational awareness alerted Ahmaud that his best course of action for survival was to avoid these men at all costs. In contrast, a man in Texas was arrested and charged for just the attempted assault on a public servant, after shoving the park ranger into a lake. (update 05/07/20-the McMichael's were arrested).

Fighting for his life with a man who hunted him like prey was not an aggressive act, but an attempt at self-preservation. To the murderers, his crime was running with melanin in a neighborhood where he was unwelcome. The message is clear," stay in your place, and if you don't, AND you're black, I can kill you with no repercussions. There was no probable cause to stop him, and he was not obligated to stop and talk to armed Caucasian men chasing him. There is, however, sufficient probable cause, in this case, to indict the McMichael's for felony murder.

Wounds inflicted from incidents like these are slow to heal because they're recurring wounds with no treatment plan in place to facilitate healing. Inaction or failure to speak about atrocities speaks volumes, just as loudly as someone with a bullhorn, a sign, or those lobbying for change with lawmakers. Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil was that good men should do nothing."

There's a weariness in my soul from hearing stories illuminating blatant barriers to justice. I am tired of the unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach every time this occurs. The album "Being Black" on my record player skips at the part "time to have the talk again with my children." My self-awareness increases when around Caucasians after these events. I must watch my tone and attempt to show no feelings on my face. I try to lower my gaze and voice, display open hands, make no sudden movements, etc. actions to present a non-threatening demeanor. It hopefully allows Caucasians to feel more comfortable with my presence. The mental how-to-survive checklist that's required every day is emotionally exhausting. A list that people without melanin need not consider. Those measures taken for self-preservation can make a person feel demeaned, inferior, or subservient. However, that checklist and those actions potentially deter adversarial interactions, allowing me to safely return home to my family.

I'm not saying having no melanin means your life is always a cakewalk. Still, genuine introspection forces one to acknowledge there are advantages. These incidents take me back to days where experiencing overt racism resulted in heart callouses. I've advised my children to be like a duck and let ignorant behavior roll off their backs and do not let negativity penetrate their hearts.

Ignorant behaviors like micro-aggressions and overt racism are both harmful. Like touching my hair without permission, following me in a store, refusing to serve me, calling me girl, etc. the list is endless. Oh and telling me I'm surprisingly articulate for a black person is not a compliment but the antithesis of one.

I taught my children that someone's negative behavior should never wield power and control to change their character.

I want to challenge everyone, as # We're in this together" is so popular right now. Remove any hesitancy to engage in candid conversations with someone from another race, ethnicity, or national origin, etc. to increase your cultural sensitivity. Breaking bread can break barriers. Sharing stories may reveal similarities. Conversations may reveal common ground.

Ask yourself, your friends and family:

  1. How can we help Lady Justice adjust her blindfold? It appears to have slipped out of place.

  2. When people make insensitive, offensive, or ignorant remarks, how will we respond moving forward? Without taking a clear stance, emphasizing your disagreement with bias, how will change occur?

  3. How can you educate others who are adamant that these are isolated events and aren't bias-motivated?

  4. Think of some good conversation starters to prompt discussion with Caucasian co-workers, family, or friends around this topic.

I will not live dismayed, disheartened, or discouraged that things will never change. 2 Cor 4:8 We are hard-pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. I hold onto hope that things will get better and positively change one day. I can be part of that change, despite how difficult the road to change appears, because I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Phil 4:13, and with God, all things are possible. Matt 19:26.

[1] A crime has several elements, but a guilty mind/state (mens rea) and a criminal act (actus reus) are the most important. When they occur at the same time, you have occurrence.

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