Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael 34, assassinated Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020 as he was out jogging. 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 assumptions 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 dehumanizing assumptions and expectations of the black man. The outcome is death; actual death for the dehumanized Ahmaud and the metaphorical deaths of the dehumanizing 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 and facebook live to discuss, experiences, questions and stories related to this journey of transformation. To join our community, contact me at email@example.com
Additionally, my friend Erin Jones who is an outstanding educator and bridge builder is currently facilitating two forums (these are free because she cares about this work) to Join or sign up, contact her on her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/erinjonesdreams/
a) Adult equity sessions for educators: discuss equity issues in the classroom.
b) Youth class sessions (10 - 14 year olds): meet black and brown leaders in our community to disrupt the narrative and assumptions.