08 May We Run For Ahmaud
On a beautiful spring morning in Madison, Wisconsin a group of citizens gathered in protest. Outraged by the horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23rd of this year, they came together in solidarity to demand justice. Though they carried no signs nor shouted slogans, their message was clear. Along the pedestrian path on the shores of Lake Wingra they came to exercise a basic human right, to do the very thing for which Arbery was apparently killed: Jogging while Black.
Organized by Aaron Perry, the local chapter leader of Black Men Run, the gathering was held on Arbery’s birthday. Had he survived the young man would be 26 years old. As a simple means to achieve physical health and mental well-being, running is a practice that Black men like Perry, Arbery and countless others had embraced as a regular routine. But the thought of being placed in jeopardy or harm’s way for simply wanting to spend time in the outdoors as part of a healthy lifestyle is more than many in the Black community can possible bear.
“On our conference call last night of the Black Men Run leadership I’d never thought I’d hear grown men cry,” Perry said to the small group. “For so long they have taken everything from us. But we can’t let them take this.”
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and public gathering restrictions, the number of attendees was quite limited. Undeterred, those who came honored the wisdom of reducing the probability of infection by keeping close contact to a minimum. While maintaining a safe distance from one another and wearing masks, the runners jogged a short loop of just over two miles. Across the country similar groups and individuals on this day have commited to running 2.23 miles to commemorate the date on which Arbery was killed. Though little consolation for the loss of a human life, those of us who remain must stand and indeed run in defiance of those who, through fear and intimidation, seek to subjugate people of color.
ut Black men in particular will continue to fight. Though we could take up arms, which is our right under the Second Amendment of the Constitution, instead we will resist by simply being. If to live our lives and take up space is such a great offense, worth killing for, then we must by all means do just that. We must live as best we can, deliberately, unapologetically, in good health and with great joy. For the sake of our spirits, minds and bodies we must run. Today we run for Ahmaud.