I can run alone, anywhere in my Pacific Northwest county, even after dark. And I do. Without thinking twice. That is the ultimate white, male, runner privilege.
Women have to consider time and place. African Americans have to consider time and place and whether to ever run alone.
I’ve never been more aware of my white, male, runner privilege than this week when the story of Ahmaud Arbery, an African American who was killed while on a run in Georgia two months ago, broke wide open. Today would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday.
Only yesterday were the father and son who stalked Arbery and then killed him arrested. And only because a video of the incident was discovered. Had there not been video, they probably would’ve gotten away with murder. And they’re not convicted yet, only arrested.
Charles Blow draws on the police report which detailed the father’s explanation for why he and his son chased Arbery:
“McMichael stated he was in his front yard and saw the suspect from the break-ins ‘hauling ass’ down Satilla Drive toward Burford Drive. McMichael stated he then ran inside his house and called to Travis (McMichael) and said, ‘Travis, the guy is running down the street, let’s go.’ McMichael stated he went to his bedroom and grabbed his .357 Magnum and Travis grabbed his shotgun because they ‘didn’t know if the male was armed or not.’”
Blow then provides needed context:
“Arbery was not armed, and he was not the ‘suspect’ in any break-ins. He was a former high school football player who liked to stay active and was jogging in the small city of Brunswick, Glynn County, Ga., near his home.
Neither of the McMichaels was arrested or charged.”
And the ultimate context:
“Slavery was legal. The Black Codes were legal. Sundown towns were legal. Sharecropping was legal. Jim Crow was legal. Racial covenants were legal. Mass incarceration is legal. Chasing a black man or boy with your gun because you suspect him a criminal is legal. Using lethal force as an act of self-defense in a physical dispute that you provoke and could easily have avoided is, often, legal.
It is men like these, with hot heads and cold steel, these with yearnings of heroism, the vigilantes who mask vengeance as valor, who cross their social anxiety with racial anxiety and the two spark like battery cables.
Arbery was enjoying a nice run on a beautiful day when he began to be stalked by armed men.
What must that have felt like?”
What must that have felt like? I have no idea.