My Peaceful Morning Run Reflects Racial Injustice

Ahmaud Arbery Was Murdered for Doing a Sport We Take for Granted

  • Graphic Joey Bruce

I have the same routine every single morning: I wake up, eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, and run. It’s been identical for the past couple of years and I can’t go through a day without it.

But my routine is unjust. Rather, it is injustice.

When I step outside, I’m not scared. If I cross paths with a police car, I don’t care. If I see a white person, they don’t cross to the other side of the street. In fact, they usually smile and wave a peace sign at me. As a white-passing Lebanese, I’m privileged to run without being prosecuted and criminalized.

But, Ahmaud Arbery didn’t have this privilege. The former high school football player loved running. Probably as much as I do. The 25-year-old was murdered in Glenn County, Georgia last May by Gregory and Travis McMichael, two white men. According to a police report, Gregory, 64, alerted his son of a suspicious-looking Black man. They both grabbed their weapons—a .357 magnum and a shotgun—and rushed to their truck to follow the young man. The casual normal day in the life of this runner abruptly turned into his murder.

Arbery was killed performing the one sport everyone praises is accessible to anyone with a pair of decent shoes. Yet, it wasn’t safely accessible for a Black man.

And Canada is not immune to this. Just last May 25 in Laval, as George Floyd was lying dead in Minneapolis, a police officer pulled out a Black man out of his car and beat him “for obstruction and a police investigation.”

Let’s be real here, this would never happen to me or white and white-passing people reading this.

We all say that we’re pissed, that we understand, that we’re against systemic injustice. But if you don’t live this experience, you can’t fully grasp this reality.

My dad always refused to let me play Call of Duty. He grew up in Lebanon and lived through two major wars and was put in jail on false accusations.

It was only when I went for the first time, looking up at bullet holes in buildings, seeing my mother’s home destroyed, that I sympathized and tried understanding what it must have felt like, how he would feel seeing me taking pleasure virtually shooting at others. But again, I couldn’t totally grasp it.

So, for us white and white-passing people, it is our responsibility to try to inform ourselves about this reality and call out wrongful actions. I hope all of us, including myself, will make the effort.

Take a stand, be opinionated—in a non-ignorant way, please—and call out racist actions. I was so happy seeing my Twitter and Instagram feed filled with posts denouncing police brutality and racism. But I hope this trend won’t solely stay online or fade out. I hope it will grow bigger and stronger.

When I heard Arbery’s story, it resonated through my body. He was stripped away from something he loved. I couldn’t imagine being in danger for running, for doing the one thing that brings happiness in my darkest days, for enjoying life – especially for a sport that is said to be accessible for everyone.

I’ve never been attacked or killed while doing the sport I love.

I’ve never been called a racial slur while out for a run.

I realize that I don’t fully understand the unjust white privileges I have, which alone is a privilege.

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