I did not watch the video. I did not hashtag his name. I was in process. I had to process yet another annihilation of beauty, potential and hope.
Two days after the video was released I shared his picture on social media. This beautiful picture.
I did not include his name or add a comment.
If people knew who he was they would bear witness. If they did not I wanted them to think, “Oh, is that Tania’s brother?” “Is that a cousin or friend, her son?”
Yes, he was my brother, cousin, friend, son. Just like Botham Jean, Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Terrence Crutcher, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and the next. Just like Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland; my sisters, cousins, friends, daughters. And more. And next.
Now the murderers Greg and Travis McMichael have been charged with murder two months after they killed him. They wouldn’t have been brought up on charges if it weren’t for the release of the video and public outcry.
Some feel victorious. But I am skeptical. Being brought up on murder charges does not mean they will be convicted. I fear the devastation of seeing them found not guilty by a jury of their peers.
I mourn that Black people cannot feel entitled to justice.
I’ve been foolish. For one brief shining moment I thought this pandemic was a great equalizer. There was one or two days where it seemed like racism was held at bay and we were “all in this together”. It’s the virus that is indiscriminate but our systems and our body politic are not and never will be. I was foolish. And the truth of it, the ugliness and the pain pummels down like the hail storm Chicago experienced weeks ago.
Today is Amhaud Arbery’s 26th birthday. It’s also my daughter Drea’s 10th birthday. Cousins. To honor him a social media campaign #irunwithMaud has emerged. Today people will run 2.3 miles to represent the day he was killed February 23rd.
Two days before Mother’s Day I mourn with Amhaud’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones; my sister.
“Ahmaud had the most humble spirit that anyone could have. I’m not just saying that because he was my baby boy. He played football at Brunswick High School; he was a linebacker. He was the youngest of three siblings. He was a ‘yes ma’am,’ and ‘no ma’am’ type of guy. He was an ‘I love you’ type of guy. He always left you with ‘I love you.’ He had dreams. He was 25 with dreams of being married with kids. It was all taken away from him.” ~Wanda Cooper-Jones
Who would he have become? He was taken from all of us.