Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael 34, assassinated Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020. Ahmaud was initially thought to be out jogging but various camera footages later revealed that he was being chased after the Michaels had noticed him entering and leaving a construction site in the neighborhood. This is such a tragic loss for his mother, his friends and community. Many have expressed their anger about the injustice of it all and the attempted cover up by the authorities. Many are frustrated that another unarmed black man was gunned down because, yet again, he was racially profiled and perceived as a threat.
Fueled by zeal and self-assurance, this father and son, 34 years apart, acted on their erroneous and dehumanizing presumptions of guilt associated with a black man running and killed an innocent man. If justice is served and the McMichaels are convicted for murder or hate crime, ironically, and metaphorically, they would have also ended their own lives on that day.
This sobering story, echoes familiar storylines. It emphatically and symbolically gives a damning picture of our nation. A white father failed his son by "passing on" his biases of the black man. The outcome is death; actual death for the dehumanized Ahmaud and the metaphorical deaths of the father, Gregory and his son, Travis.
One generation after the next, white men and white women are failing the next generation of Americans by passing on the same dehumanizing assumptions, fears and expectations of black men. Often, this isn’t out of hate or malice but rather because across this nation, communities, neighborhoods, churches, schools and media outlets are segregated. Martin Luther King recognized this cancer when he described Sunday morning at 11 am the most segregated hour in America. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of othering that keeps us separated from each other and unable to engage in transformational relationships.
How can you love the one you fear?
How can you stop fearing the one you don’t trust?
How can you trust the one you do not know?
And, how can you know the one you avoid, never see, or never talk to?
I am deeply convinced that until we commit and take intentional steps to bridge across our racial divide, which has economic and health impacts, #runwithmaud will just be another hashtag. And, impassioned posts on social media, though they gather likes and shares, will soon be forgotten and America will go back to repeating its DNA.
I want to challenge us, me first with the #ahmaudchallenge.
Would you commit to any of these challenges or come up with your own in the same spirit as the ones listed?
· Commit to purchase or gift to your children books with authors and illustrations from a different race.
· Commit to expose your children to racially different role models and history.
· Commit to set up for your children, play-dates with racially different classmates.
· Commit to move to a neighborhood, or school that is not racially homogeneous.
· Commit to regularly attend a faith community that is racially different from yours.
· Commit to watch movies/cartoons with an all cast racially different from yours.
· Commit to have conversations with someone who is racially different from you.
· Commit to start or join a forum to discuss racial tensions, racial equity issues in this country.
Should you choose to participate in this challenge, join our community by posting your pictures, videos, comments and blog posts of your journey by using the hashtag #ahmaudchallenge.
Every Monday at 8:30 pm, I will be hosting the #Ahmaudchallenge forum on Zoom to discuss, experiences, questions and stories related to this journey of transformation. To join our community, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the Ahmaud Challenge Community Facebook group