Ahmaud Arbery: When Justice Is Bittersweet
I wish that I could celebrate justice for Ahmaud Arbery. Twenty-one months after he was brutally murdered for the perceived crime of “jogging while black,” there would be this big sense of relief. But something in my spirit cannot rest. Despite being content knowing the three men responsible are caged like the wild animals that they are, a part of me is discontent knowing the road it took to reach here, and the road that awaits long after this verdict and case have been forgotten.
It took 79 days, video footage, and three prosecutors to even garner an arrest of the three men responsible. Imagine that you murder someone, and for 2.5 months you go on with life, like not only have you not murdered someone, but you have the privilege and freedom of law enforcement.
While Ahmaud’s parents are having to do the unthinkable task for burying him, because he should have been burying them, not the other way around. Instead of going through the traditional five stages of grief, they had to postpone that and put on their activists hats and fight for justice for their son, because local law enforcement believed the lies of the murderers, who had everything to lose, and not their innocent son who had everything to gain by being allowed to continue his 26 year old life.
Or I cannot celebrate because when the jury was selected, there were eleven white people, and one Black person to decide justice for one Black man. Or maybe because during the trial, the murderers’ lawyers did everything they could to treat Ahmaud with every indignity possible, while trying to persuade jurors that their eyes and ears were lying to them.
Or I cannot be content because I think about the Trayvon Martins, the Sandra Blands, the Jonathan Ferrells, the Breonna Taylors, who will never even see this slither of justice because Black lives only matter or are considered worthy when there is video footage to dispel white lies.
Or I cannot be at peace because as hard as this battle was to convict Ahmaud’s murderers, there will be another Ahmaud because some white person steroid fueled by white supremacy, white privilege, testosterone, and our “good old boy” justice system will roll the dice and do the same, just to see how he fairs.
Or just maybe I cannot rest, because many of you, as you gather at your various Thanksgiving tables with your collective family members, are unwilling or too cowardly to have those hard conversations. Because you may have #RunwithAhmaud last summer, those trust funds, that privilege, and losing your earthly saviors, are too large of a risk to do the arduous work to end white supremacy and to make sure the world is so safer for people who do not have your privilege.
So, for Ahmaud’s family’s sake, I feel a slight relief, but that relief is bittersweet, knowing it is only a matter of time before we cross this river again.