Sunday, January 1, 2023

In My View: Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder by Byron Hurt

I just finished watching a NY Times investigation video detailing the final minutes of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. It broke down the chase, minute by minute, based on surveillance video. The video deconstructed what likely happened just prior to the attack, and showed how it ended for Arbery.

Out of respect for Arbery’s life, I won’t repost it because it shows the two murderers shooting and killing him. As most of you who have seen it know, it is horrific, terrifying, triggering, and angering. The young brotha was out for a jog, something that many of us black men who are fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, and sons do. I will say this. The two white men who shot Ahmaud Arbery did so operating on their basest, racist stereotypes of black men — the idea that black men are inherently dangerous and criminal. Nothing new. This is an old black male trope.

Ahmaud’s only crime was that he was a black man.

It has been reported that there have been recent burglaries in the Brunswick neighborhood. If there had been, in the eyes of the white men who called 911, Ahmaud’s only crime was that he was a black man. The problem is, being a black man is not a crime. Arbery is seen on video walking around a construction site, as others, black and non black had done. But he stole nothing.

Ahmaud Arbery had been so dehumanized by the two white men who followed and killed him, that they likely could not distinguish one black man jogging through their neighborhood from the next. This is the problem with white racism and racial stereotyping. Combine that with the kind of dehumanization that also took place on that Brunswick street — the literal stripping of Arbery’s humanness — that you get two white men jumping in a pickup truck out on a mission to hunt down a black man as if they were hunting deer.

I am mad, sad, and at this point, doubtful that justice equal to the crime committed will be done.

I have no purpose of writing this other than to clear my mind and express my thoughts after watching that NY Times piece. I also need express my feelings about it. I am mad, sad, and, at this point, doubtful that justice equal to the crime committed will be done. I also have this overwhelmingly powerful desire to protect myself, and my people from these kind of brutal, unjustified attacks. We black people cannot be out here getting hunted down like animals. White people need to know they cannot do this to us without repercussions or harsh punishment.

I can only imaging that these two men bet on their whiteness that they’d get away with killing a black man if they said they felt threatened by him. These “Stand Your Ground” laws essentially exist to protect white people who kill black people. All they have to say is that they were in danger, or feared for their lives, in an effort to evoke empathy from police, jurors, the general public — and to quickly conjure images of dangerous black men to justify and support their fear.

Protect your bodies, your spirits, and your minds.

Anyway, to all of my black people, myself included, who have to endure watching what seems like an endless supply of unjustifiable arrests, assaults, vigilante murders, and police brutality, I love you. Protect your bodies, your spirits, and your minds. We have to stand up for ourselves, defend ourselves, and end this abuse. We are more valuable than we are taught to believe of ourselves, and we deserve much better than the onslaught of violence against our humanity.

Love and light.

Byron Hurt
Byron Hurt
Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, published writer, anti-sexist activist, and lecturer. He is also the former host of the Emmy-nominated television show, REEL WORKS with BYRON HURT. For more than 20 years, Hurt has been using his craft, his voice, and his writings to broaden and deepen how people think about gender violence, race, music, visual media, and food justice.

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