Let me start by going on the record and saying that the most horrific tragedy of the year 2020 is not the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most horrific tragedy to take place in America in the year 2020 was the public lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. For those of us who could stomach to watch the video of the lynching that took Ahmaud’s young life, it was a reminder of the unfathomable depths of hatred that still exist in this country for Black people. It was a reminder that, even though our ancestors built this country by the sweat of their calloused hands, we are still not safe here.
It was as if, even in the midst of the most deadly pandemic the world has ever seen, God wanted to remind us of the real pandemic in this country. The lynching of Ahmaud Arbery is worse than the COVID-19 pandemic, because at some point America will get past the Coronavirus. However, it has been 465 years since the first slave ship landed in Jamestown, Virginia, and this country has yet to get past its hatred and systematic injustice towards Black men, women and children. America is more interested in saving Black whales than Black males.
Seeing Ahmaud Arbery fall face forward, after being shot three times, scorched me well into the deepest parts of my soul.
What hurt me even more was seeing him “hunted down” moments before.
The brother was jogging! Two armed White Supremacists posted up in front of him while a third gave chase in a pickup truck with a cocked pistol and a “kill that ni**a” mentality. The young king had no way out. It was a scenario that spoke louder than the rifle blasts that killed our brother. There was a moment in that message that stuck with every Black male in this country.
We are still “the hunted!”
One hundred fifty-seven years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Black men are still being hunted down like runaway slaves. For nearly 3 months, no district attorney would file charges against the hunters, primarily because the American justice system has a well-documented history of blaming Black people for our own deaths. I repeat; we are not safe here.
Hunting is a favorite pastime in America. It is defined as “the seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing of wild animals. It is customary for humans to hunt animals; for meat, recreation and to remove predators that can be dangerous to humans or domestic animals.”
In the case of Ahmaud Arbery, we did not witness human beings hunting an animal; we witnessed three animals hunting a human being. That human being was Ahmaud. Those three animals were Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan. If the human being in this scenario were White and the animals were Black, the animals would probably have already paid with their lives. At the very least, they would have been arrested and charged immediately. We’ve all seen Animals Gone Wild videos. When a circus lion kills a human being, that lion is usually “put down.” If Ahmaud’s murderers are convicted and receive life in prison, I would not consider that justice. Animals who kill human beings must be “put down.”
If you study the survival habits of commonly hunted animals you will see similarities in how Black males move in society. Both move with great caution. Both are difficult to get close to. Just as animals who tend to be hunted as prey run in packs for protection, so do many Black males. Society calls them gangs. I could go on. More profound is the anxiety, unending stress and psychological damaging terror, of knowing that you could be killed at any moment with no justice to follow. Being “the hunted” is not always about being slaughtered. Sometimes it’s about being exploited.
For instance, a Black male athlete who turns professional is usually fed, like wild game, to agents, accountants, lawyers and business managers, who leave him broke and broken at the end of his career; not realizing he had been hunted since little league. The American educational system purposely mis-educates Black boys to justify building more prison beds, fueling a billion dollar industry. Hunted since second grade! The music industry hunts down rap artists, like the talented, charismatic NBA Youngboy, to create content that promotes violence, street life and the killing of our own kind, to the youth. These rappers, like the athletes, are caught up in a web of legal paperwork that makes them slaves. They are made to appear like predators in their songs and videos, but they, themselves, are really the prey. Some old white guy in a button-up sweater usually ends up owning the intellectual property of the gangster rapper. Hunted since his younger days on the block. We are hunted at every level.
Charles Dutton said it best in the ‘hood’ classic “Menace II Society”, when he said “THE HUNT IS ON!”
Nothing illustrates this reality more clearly than the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Truth is, it took me forever to write this article. Do you know why?
It’s because, like every other brother in the country, I’m tired. Most of the messages I’ve received from Black men regarding this case read like this:
“Brother I’m tired!”
Millions of Black men cried in the dark for Ahmaud Arbery. It’s not that we are tired and ready to give up on the struggle for freedom for our people. We are just tired of being the hunted. We are tired of depending on a system that was not created to give us justice. We are tired of being made to feel guilty for wanting to kill those who kill us. We are tired of not even having time to feel tired because the hunt is still on!
To my brothers: If you watched the video of Ahmaud Arbery carefully you will see that Ahmaud was tired too. What did he do when he had nowhere else to run? God dammit, he started fighting!
Ahmaud may have lost his life, but he fought those bastards until the end. He never gave up. He died like a man, therefore he will never die. We, as Black men, are Ahmaud Arbery! We must take our cue from him. We are the hunted and there is nothing left for us to do, except fight. We must fight intellectually, economically, spiritually, politically and (hell yeah) if you have to physically defend your life, you must be prepared to fight.
If we do not fight, we will pass “the hunt” down to the next generation of Black males. Ahmaud Arbery is a hero in my book. I shed tears writing this piece.