Here we are, chasing each other around another labyrinth of race, throwing accusations, getting angry, spitting our frustrations at each other. The Ahmaud Arbery shooting has ignited yet another round of Americans screaming at each other over race. I must admit that upon watching the video of Arbery’s shooting I found myself perplexed that there was any other way to look at this except as murder. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer, especially as a conservative. Due process is a pretty big deal in our republic and it seemed obvious to me that no matter what Arbery may have been doing at some point earlier in the day (which at this point seems to be lurking at a construction site for a few minutes before leaving empty-handed), conservatives would certainly fall on the side of this young black man at the very least getting his due process. I certainly couldn’t imagine anyone justifying Arbery’s murder particularly after seeing that video.
I’ve held my tongue on this issue for the most part because I’ve seen this show enough times to know how it ends. I know better than to fly off the handle before we have the full story. But I’ve seen enough now. I come down on the side of justice and Arbery received none while his killers skirted it. But that’s not why I’m writing today. We don’t need another op-ed about how this black man’s final moments may have evolved quite differently were he white. I’ll leave that to better minds than my own to properly break down.
At best, this is a case of a young man maybe thinking about doing no good and then being stalked and gunned down by private citizens without due process. It seems like an easy case for conservatives to demand justice. And yet, I’m watching a lot of white conservatives make huge stretches to try to absolve Arbery’s killers. Many of those same conservatives are people I have a lot of respect for. Some I know only online, some I know personally, but none I would label as racist or bigoted. Yet there is a chasm between us when it comes to viewing this shooting.
I have to ask myself…why?
I have come to the conclusion that the reason some white conservatives dig in so hard against narratives of racial violence when they hit the public square is because they are so used to constantly being on the defensive when it comes to race. I just dropped a frustrated thread on Twitter about my very deep annoyance with people who think black conservatives aren’t ever supposed to argue with each or disagree on anything. It is quite offensive to be lumped into one category and have your individuality and unique life experience poured into THE BLACK CONSERVATIVE mold and then be asked to speak on behalf of all black people everywhere, even though you don’t know them all and are quite familiar with the ideological diversity within black America.
I think that’s h0w white conservatives feel when it comes to race. Just like I don’t speak for all black people, white conservatives don’t speak for all white people. It’s unnerving to be asked to answer for the sins of your ancestors and the sins of others who happen to reside in the same racial group. So it’s no wonder so many white conservatives feel compelled to push back against any narrative that might support the idea that black people still face many dangerous cultural and justice-related obstacles in this country. They feel accused by the very notion. In today’s climate of hot takes and social justice warriors pinning the blame on anyone and everyone who doesn’t fit their mold, the only way to prove that they are not racist murderers is to deny racist murders exist at all. If there’s no race issue, then they can’t be a part of it in the first place…and again, I’m talking about good people who aren’t racist killers and naturally don’t want to be associated with racist killers in any way.
It’s self-preservation, in my opinion. And I get it. I do. So let’s all get something straight…listen up.
YOU DID NOT SHOOT AHMAUD ARBERY.
You didn’t take video of him poking around a construction site hours before his murder. You did not see him running down the street. You did not stalk him with a camera. You did not approach him with a loaded weapon and demand he stop. You did not look threatening to him and you did not cause him to fear for his life when two armed men with zero authority demanded he stop running. You did not engage him as he tried to fight for the weapon trained on him. You did not cover up the shooting and let the two men involved in a shooting go straight home to live their lives while Arbery’s family was simply left to wonder.
YOU DID NOT DO ANY OF THAT.
You’ve been absolved. So now is it okay if we call this what it was? A murder. Let Arbery’s family get the full story and justice for their son. I’m sorry if you’ve been falsely accused of bigotry, but you have at least a whiff of what young black men like Arbery experience regularly to this day.
It’s okay to say this shooting was wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re responsible for it or responsible to speak for every other white person in America. It doesn’t mean America isn’t the best country in the world and it doesn’t mean that most Americans aren’t living quite well and peaceably alongside their neighbors.
It just means you can spot injustice when you see it.