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With the closing of the gyms, I have dedicated myself to three runs per week plus whatever Jack and I do on Sundays. My neighborhood though mostly flat, is limited in length, so I find myself taking to the trail of Hillsboro. I see the same people, pretty much every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There is about my age girl, doing her normal run. We do a passing wave in solidarity. There is also who I refer to as : the senior citizen breakfast club. I smile and maintain my six feet of distance. There is the biracial couple, dedicating to their fitness, with alternating nods. And there is my favorite dad, a middle aged black man, walking with his two children, who always waves and smiles the most enthusiastically whenever our paths cross. I see him every run, and his reaction is the same: a beautiful welcoming smile. I notice it because it always seems so genuine, like âOh itâs you again. Hello. I am just trying to motivate my two teens to get a little exercise during this pandemic.â Odd as it may be, I look forward to passing him, mostly because I am weary and tired but also because his friendly smile gives me comfort, like he is sincerely glad to see me pass him every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I think of this man when I see what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, and how his life, a young, healthy twenty five year old was cut short by the hands of two gun toting racists. It horrifies me. It saddens me, but mostly I feel anger, and I should. These men were able to gun him down in the street. We watched where he helplessly and hopelessly fought for his life, and I recognize the fear he must have felt, the one I am sure his mama had to warn him of. I think of my two sweet boys and how I look for kidnappers and cars, but never do I think, ever, someone will hunt either of them down like an animal.
Never as a mother, do I worry that justice will not be served if there is a damning video of harm nor that it will have to be a public outcry to get his ghostly voice heard. But people live this daily, our fellow black brothers and sisters, and we pretend it does not exist, that racism is old and defeated, but I still hear those words. I still see the acts of violence against unarmed African American men and women and even children, and yet America pretends She is free from the existence of âold, prejudiced values.â We arenât. We cannot be, not when these things still occur, and worse, when we do not fight against them. I donât know what it is like to be a minority. I have never had someone watch me closely because of my skin nor have I feared the people on the trail when I run. I donât, and I cannot know, but I can learn. I can do better. I can ask questions and understand that my knowledge area of being a color other than white is limited. I can acknowledge that my skin color, my societal class, my family support , gives me a âleg up,â
on others as I started out âahead,â in life. I can acknowledge and better, I can try to help, in whatever form that may takeâ¦ Jackson and I run on Sundays. Itâs our âthing.â I didnât get to run for Ahmaud Arbery on Friday due to rain (I ran today, though), but I asked Drew if we could walk the today for 2 minutes and 23 seconds with the boys instead, and I told Jackson of Ahmaud Arberyâs fate and why I wanted to walk the distance with him. Jackson, in pure innocence, stated he thought those views were gone. I told him sadly they were not, so we do what we can, when we can, and we speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, whose voices were cut off by hatred. Then, we spent time discussing history, like Emmett Till, Bull Connor and more recently, Trayvon Martin. And we walk, not just for Ahmaud Arbery but for our friends, Mommy and Daddyâs students, and the middle aged father whose compassionate smile encourages me to run.