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  • Hannah

My Thoughts on Ahmaud Arbery's Death

Ready or not, here’s my opinion on this frequently debated topic.

First things first – I think people can often get carried away with arguments regarding details surrounding these situations while (perhaps unintentionally) overlooking the death of an actual person. It seems like these events trigger discussions about nebulous themes and tenuous contemplations regarding right versus wrong. But there is a certain gravity to death, especially when considering a life taken at the hands of another. That gravitas is usually ignored. I’m not sure why this is – maybe people have diminished the value of life, or maybe they’re in too much of a hurry to maximize an opportunity to proclaim their political stance. I think a certain amount of respect is warranted, regardless of who’s in the right.

Before I re-hash this situation, I want to express my condolences to Ahmaud Arbery’s family. It’s a tragedy that could have been avoided.

So –

We all know the details fit together like random pieces of a puzzle, with missing connections and parts that like seem like they might work, but don’t make sense. With the limited information we’ve been given, the public has been trying to piece it together (along with media outlets, celebrities, and popular figures). There's a whole collection of perspectives available for your research. Just Google it or search on YouTube, and you’ll find a ton of people contributing their views. I’m not going to spend lots of time examining these details because, thanks to the internet, you have access to all of them. That being said, I will share a little summary that expresses my personal overarching opinions. If you come across any confusing references, I’m sorry. But do your own research!

I’m not confident that Arbery’s death was racially motivated. It looks like it could have been, and his mom's suspicion about why the McMichaels took after son isn't a far-fetched idea. I’m just saying that from what I’ve seen (and haven’t seen), I can’t determine if the pursuers committed the act purely out of racism. Maybe they would have chased down a suspicious white person in the same way. They seem to prefer vigilantism as an effective mode of behavior, so it’s a possibility. But then again, maybe they did choose to go after Arbery because he was black. I can’t know for sure. Either way, I do know they should have been arrested at the time of the incident.

As of now, I think the focal point should be directed towards a weak and ineffective justice system. The standards upon which America’s justice was founded are high. In Georgia, the people designated to uphold those standards failed. They failed to investigate a death to the fullest extent of the law, and allowed the killers to walk without consequence. If justice were allowed to rule months ago, I might venture to say that current national news would be focused on other stories. But now, because of the sloppiness – maybe even shadiness – of their local prosecutors, all eyes are on this case.

So many people have chosen to run with the racial antagonism theory, thereby deepening the tensions already present within our country. That’s where suspicion can develop, and rightly so. Why do situations like these tend to develop during election cycles? Why spark the same arguments from the same people? Why label an entire ethnicity based on the reckless action of two individuals? Because it helps develop political narratives designed to further specific ideals.

On the other hand, it’s too easy to get carried away spouting talking points and trying to validate an opinion. We have the right to say what we want, when we want, and how we want. I’ve seen people rightly criticize the actions of both the McMichaels and Arbery; that’s what makes debate and discussion worthwhile. However, when we start posthumously libeling a person in order to prove our message, the goal becomes more about forcing “our truth” instead of uncovering the truth. It looks silly, egotistic, and it’s kind of emotionally immature.

The whole thing is really foggy, at least for me. The only thing I can be sure of is that when it counted the most, the system failed Ahmaud Arbery and his family. When more details are revealed and the trial actually happens, I’ll remember to:

Share empathy with the people who are hurting.

Recognize that I am not a political pawn to be played.

Practice emotional maturity and stability.

Take media headlines and social ideas with a grain of salt.

Assume innocence until proven guilty (which applies to everyone involved).


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