I’m not much of a screamer. Even though there has been plenty to scream about lately, I’ve been mostly quiet. I’ve started a half dozen blog posts only to abandon them as trivial, possibly tone-deaf, in light of present circumstances.
Ahmaud Arbery’s killing was an eye-opener for me. In my ignorance I hadn’t realized the great lengths some people of color go to just to prepare for a run. During my #runwithmaud, I chose a safe and familiar route, took no music or other distractions. The 2.4 miles in his honor were a time of awareness, reflection, and prayer for me. I can’t change the situation, but I can change me.
Things I take for granted and enjoy as the freedom of running are not universal. One blogger I follow devotes his work to mentoring future generations. He has a PhD and has served this country, retiring from the Air Force. He is physically active and runs about the same pace I do. Even though we’ve never met, I feel a connection with him on several levels. If anyone deserves the freedom and release running affords, he does. And yet he must choose his routes carefully and make sure his clothes exaggerate his intentions or advertise his acceptable accomplishments. For no reason other than the color of his skin.
Running while black should not carry a death sentence. More than that, the pure joy of running should not be diminished or excluded based on pigmentation. Running provides enough physical and mental challenges without having to worry about other people’s ignorance.
Racism is wrong. It hurts us all. I have no idea the depth of pain, the frustration of injustice and the disappointment felt by my brothers and sisters of color. Racism hurts my family, it hurts my friends and there is nothing right about it. It’s not enough for me to be non-racist, I must be anti-racist. I don’t understand all the subtleties and nuances, and I’m going to make mistakes. But I can be more sensitive, supportive and open in my personal interactions.
Our country must change. Since our country is really the people, we must change our thinking, our actions, and our notion of what is acceptable and what is intolerable. Seeing George Floyd’s life snuffed out as he pleaded for help is one of the most disturbing images I’ve ever seen. Our society cannot tolerate the cold, uncaring taking of a life. It’s enough to make you scream.
Is America two different nations? Or is it a matter of perspective? The two photographs are of the same flag, taken minutes apart. The feeling each picture elicits is different based on the point of view. My voice alone is barely a whisper. There’s a line in Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “Blue on Black” that says, “Whisper on a scream, doesn’t mean a thing.” But maybe it does for someone.