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  • Writer's pictureJanna Zonder

Thinking Of Ahmaud Arbery

Most of us know the story of Ahmaud Arbery's murder by now. He was a young, black man out for a jog in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia. He was chased and gunned down by a white father and son who suspected him of burglary. The murder was caught on video.

The video of his shooting was horrific and has lingered in my mind, but I find myself thinking more often of another video from that day — the one that shows Mr. Arbery going in to have a look at a home under construction. How many times have I done that? It's almost impossible for me to pass by one without taking a look. I like to figure out where the kitchen and bathrooms are. I like to imagine how it will look when it's finished. I like to imagine myself living in that home.

Were these the thoughts going through Mr. Arbery's mind as he stood for a few moments, caught his breath, and looked around? He was only twenty-six. Perhaps he was imagining what it would be like to live there with his sweetheart someday or to raise a family there. Perhaps he was forming opinions, as I often did as a young person, about what he would do differently when he built his own dream home.

I grew up in a racist culture. As soon as I was old enough to understand how wrong it was, I worked to enlighten myself and overcome the poisonous beliefs that would have kept me locked in a prison of ignorance and fear. I feel pity for that father and son. I hope they pay for their crime to the maximum established by law, but I do feel pity for them. They are lost souls clinging to vicious lies as proof of their worth.

It fills my heart with sorrow to know Ahmaud Arbery will never experience the joys and struggles of growing to be an old man. His loved ones will never see what he would have done with his life. Never hold him in their arms again. Never hear him laugh. His dreams — whatever they were — of adventure and family and success were taken from him. He will be forever frozen in time as a young, black man murdered for innocently going out for a jog in America.

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