Being black in America cost Ahmaud Arbery his life

Nation needs a wakeup call


Maggie Klaers

Art by Maggie Klaers. Ahmaud Arbery was shot Feb. 23 in Satilla Shores, Georgia. Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested for the shooting May 7.

Maddie Schutte

This story reflects the situation as of 10 p.m. May 8.

Ahmaud Arbery was on a run near his neighborhood when two armed white men chased him down in their truck and fatally shot the 25-year-old man three times. His crime: being a black man on a run. The color of his skin cost him his life. 

Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, the two armed men involved, defended their purely evil actions by claiming that Arbery fit the description of a suspected burglar in their neighborhood, responsible for various break-ins. However, in the seven weeks leading up to the shooting, only one burglary in the neighborhood had been reported, according to CNN. If these alleged burglaries had been such a pressing issue in their community, it would have been reported to the police.

McMicheal and his son never went to the police with this issue because they wanted to take matters into their own hands and exert the power they have as white men. They racially profiled a young man on his daily jog. One look at the color of his skin was all it took for them to assume he was a criminal. There is no question about existing racism in this country. It’s here, loud and clear. 

Even if Arbery had committed the alleged burglaries, which we will never know because his life and opportunity to speak up for himself were taken away from him, he did not deserve to die. No human has the right to take someone’s life simply because that person fits a loose description. 

Arresting these men isn’t enough, and until they are convicted as well as charged with a hate crime, justice has not been served. ”

It took 10 weeks and widespread public outrage for Gregroy and Travis McMichael to be arrested and charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The police officers at the scene were ready to make these arrests soon after the incident, but the arrests were blocked by District Attorney Jackie Johnson. The poor handling of this case shows a clear racial bias present in the Glynn County Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. High profile celebrity’s involvement and a petition signed by over one million people should not be necessary in order for black victims to be taken seriously. 

While the suspects in this case have finally been charged, it is vital to undestand that this was more than a murder; it was a hate crime. Georgia is one of four states without laws criminalizing hate crimes, meaning the hate crime charges have to be taken up at a federal level. The Federal Bureau of Investigation needs to make a powerful statement with this case. Arresting these men isn’t enough, and until they are convicted as well as charged with a hate crime, justice has not been served.

We have to be done pretending like this country has progressed. We have to be done ignoring the blatant racism that prevails in this country. White privilege should have never been up for discussion. I am a white cis-gender woman. I will never fear for my life running through a white neighborhood or worry that someone will see the color of my skin and assume that I was responsible for a crime, but black people in this country have to. They have to because Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot in broad daylight over two months ago, and whether or not his murderers are in the wrong is up for debate. 

To every child of color growing up in this hateful country, I am sorry. It is 2020 and white people are still getting off for these crimes while their black victims are six feet under. America, do better. This doesn’t have to be our reality. We need to fight for those who no longer have a voice to speak up for themselves. It is our responsibility to never let this happen again, for Ahmaud Arbery, and for every other black person who has lost their life for being black in America.