Each of us has days when we are hopeful about the world that might emerge from this pandemic. Then we have days when we are heartbroken with grief over all that has changed and what we have lost.
Today, I am heartbroken.
I am heartbroken that we live in a world where a 25-year-old black man named Ahmaud Arbery goes out for a jog. Two white men, a father and son, believed he looked like a person responsible for a series of home invasions in the community. They call the police. But instead of waiting, the two white men arm themselves with guns and accost Ahmaud. They shoot him twice with a shotgun, killing him. As of today, both of the white men involved in this case remain unprosecuted.
What was Ahmaud Arbery’s crime? He was JOGGING WHILE BLACK. He was unarmed. He ran that path almost every day. He had done nothing wrong. He was someone’s son. He loved and was loved. He never should have died.
I am heartbroken. So many of us are. And none of us should let this pass.
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Pastor of Middle Collegiate Church in NY makes this clear: “If Christians do not confront Ahmauh Arbrey’s lynching and cry for justice, words we speak about the cross are hollow. One cannot follow Christ but ignore neighbors’ crucifixions. The silence in much of white Christianity reveals a tradition that worships whiteness, not Jesus.”
For those of us with white skin that protects us from even having to consider the question “is it safe to jog in my neighborhood?” we hold the responsibility to stop this madness. This cannot wait. We dare not say, “It will be better in time.” We dare not say, “We don’t know all the facts, so let’s not pass judgment” while we wait for the news cycle to move on. We dare not say, “All lives matter (and maybe black ones too).” We dare not. For we cannot possibly create a new world more just than the one we leave behind if we carry forward our silence, cowardice and shame.
I have never been more hopeful for our future and the world we can create, but we cannot weaponize that hope for the sake of excusing our complictness in sustaining systems that take innocent lives. We need a better world starting today.
For those of you already immersed in this work, I thank you for your courage. For those of you wishing to be, I invite you to join the movement. For those of you offended by my words, I invite you to explore why they bother you and why this matters. We all must start where we are, doing all we can, to create a more just and generous world.