On February 23, Ahmaud went for a run.
By now, you know the story.
Two men chased him down in a truck. They eventually drove away, but Ahmaud was left bleeding out on the road. No one was arrested for 74 days.
My husband and I have a dear friend—a Jesus-loving, country-serving, life-saving doctor friend. He also likes to run. He once told me that he runs with his ID in his pocket, to prove that he belongs in the affluent neighborhood he lives in and runs through, just in case he is stopped.
Did I mention he’s black?
Often, when I’m lacing up my shoes to go on my own walk or run without my Driver’s License in my pocket, I think of him. What experiences led to him deciding that having an ID in his pocket was a necessary step for his protection? What racism has he endured before? And I wonder how he feels when he knows his own 20-something African-American son is out for a run. My eyes water.
I cannot imagine.
When God created man and woman, He created them in His very own image. The man you pass on the street is made in the image of God. That woman disregarded or overlooked or harassed because of her skin color is made in the image of God. Paul trumpets this truth in Galatians 3:29: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Ahmaud Arbery is dead. Watch the video. Don’t look away, don’t mute, don’t skip. I think back to all the things I’ve heard from friends and acquaintances and Internet pundits about past scenarios that somehow excused a travesty. He had a history of priors. He was a troubled youth. He was carrying a gun. He had been acting suspiciously. He didn’t belong there. I am not the judge or the jury. However, none of those situations mean that it is all right for two fellow citizens and image-bearers to chase a man down in a truck, threaten him, point a gun at him, and shoot him. As the story stands today, I can see absolutely no situation or circumstance that says the actions leading to his death were good, right, or just. None.
If this is protected under self-defense, the law must be changed. If these actions are defended under citizen’s arrest statutes, they must be altered. Two men cannot chase down a runner in a pickup truck and shoot him, even if they had been actual eyewitnesses to a robbery—and they were not.
After a trial, after a verdict, there will be action to take. We’ll know if laws need changing or congressmen need calling. But right here, right now, the best action may just be to reach out to our black brothers and sisters. Please join me in not simply agreeing internally, in not only clicking “share.”
Now is the time to reach out to your black friends. We’re in an era of social distancing, but lean into community and communication. Join me in reaching out to the beautiful black souls in our lives and saying, “I don’t know what it’s like. I don’t understand everything. But I’m here, I love you, and Jesus loves you. We’re in this together.” Let’s lean in with love.
We can join the prophet Malachi in asking, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10)
Dear believer, is your skin pale like mine? Don’t excuse this. Don’t compare this. Don’t ignore this. Recognize wrong for what it is. Ahmaud Arbery was made in the image of God.
Dear believer, is your skin dark like my friend’s? I see you. I love you. I don’t know what I don’t know, but I’m here.
I went on a run today, joining thousands running worldwide in memory of what would have been Ahmaud’s 26th birthday. It was a tiny, minuscule way to honor to a life. A life that was snuffed out before its time. And it is not lost on me that I ran through my blue- and white-collar neighborhood without my ID in my pocket. And no one assumed I was up to no good, chased me down in a pickup, yelled at me, or shot at me while I fled in panic.
May God empower us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.