The trial surrounding the murder of Ahmaud Aubrey represents everything I hate about America. It represents the seated hostility Georgia, this country, and the world has for Black people.
Ahmaud was 25 years old with so much life to live. He was a man simply jogging down a road in Brunswick, Ga. Brunswick, a place once considered refuge for descendants of Africans who were enslaved, now is a place where environmental injustice is alive and well, and residents, primarily Black residents, live in poverty.
A Black man minding his business, jogging, should have been the last thing on the minds of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, the three white men who chased and murdered Ahmaud, and I often wonder what God thinks about this.
I wonder what God thinks about the laws in Georgia that have given people permission to kill with no accountability. Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law and other laws like it have allowed white citizens to capture slaves envisioning and running toward freedom, justify lynchings of Black people, and was the exact law cited by a prosecutor who previously declined to arrest Arbery’s murderers.
Ironically, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that retracted some of Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law that still allows Black people to be hunted, while with other strokes of his pen he still attempts to disenfranchise voters. This is the air that surrounds this trial and so many more in this country and world.
There is also an overwhelming familiar double standard as we watch from our living rooms the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, a white teenager. Rittenhouse, who faces homicide charges, can be seen standing close to Judge Bruce Schroeder as though they went to the same college and became fraternity brothers. Schroeder has made insensitive and racist comments and dismissed the gun charge against Rittenhouse in a matter of days, as though people aren’t grieving and the world watching.
You see, Ahmaud does not have the ability to stand next to a judge or even his mother. That right was taken from him. It seems as though it matters who is holding the gun, and who is lying on the ground in blood. This is the air surrounding this trial and so many trials in this country.
In Georgia we see a jury comprised of one Black juror and 11 white jurors, we hear insidious racists comments toward Black pastors, and a lack of care for a family grieving. Defense lawyer Kevin Gough even pushed for a mistrial with his questioning of who is in the courtroom and not the injustice that surrounds him. His comments now have rallied clergy across denominational and ecumenical lines to gather near the Glynn County Superior Courthouse Nov. 18 in prayer for the family of Ahmaud Arbery. This is the air that surrounds this trial and so many more in this country, and I often wonder how God feels about this.
The murder of Ahmaud Arbery was not self-defense, “citizen’s arrest,” or a divine act of God. It was evil behavior fueled by white privilege. I’ve never known God being OK with God’s people being slaughtered. When we don’t talk about it, and we don’t say what we see without fear, we’ve accepted the behavior. We’ve accepted anti-black violence and falsely claim the title of Christian.
So, now God calls us not to repetitively and arbitrarily say the name of Ahmaud Arbery and look to see who will be murdered next. God is not calling us to throw people in prison, plaster “justice has been served” on our social media accounts and do it all over again. God is calling us to cause a holy disruption, because the world is mistreating God’s children, and honestly everyone should be angry.
Being black is not a problem. Ahmaud Aubrey should still be here.
Brittini L. Palmer is a freedom writer, preacher, communications consultant and graduate of Virginia Union University and McAfee School of Theology. Follow her on all social media platforms @BrittiniLPalmer.
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