The Right to Run Safely - man running down the street

There is an ache in my chest. I don’t know whether to vomit or cry or both. I watched a video of a young man out running. An activity that I engage in often, and had just returned from my morning run when the video came on the news. I was mesmerized for all the wrong reasons. The difference between how my run ended and his is that I got home. He never did.

He was murdered for being black.

I am a runner who has run in different countries and cities. Being careful when I run comes second nature. I don’t go late at night, never go down alleys or places that are less populated. Being aware of my surroundings is because I am a woman not because of the color of my skin. I don’t know what it’s like to be a target because of the color of my skin. Watching that video, I saw a young man, fighting to save his life.  I don’t know the whole story. We may never know, but I do know the actions of those two men that February morning was wrong. Everything about what they did was wrong.

Self-Defense

The two white men that killed him are claiming self-defense. The sad and quite scary thing is that I believe those two white men, armed with a handgun and a rifle, felt that their lives were at risk. And in their minds, they acted within the boundaries of the law. You see, they saw a black man running in their neighborhood.

Their perception of why a black man would be running in their neighborhood triggered their fight or flight response. And they were not going to flee. That is their neighborhood, and they will protect it from this suspicious (black) jogger. They were going to fight. And fight they did for no reason. No real, tangible threat existed except what they perceived.

Superiority

Those two men are racist. And they murdered someone based on the color of their skin. To consider even taking the life of another, you have to believe that you are better than them. The foundation of racism is the same superiority belief. The willingness to take a person’s life (one life is more valuable than the other) combined with racism (my race is superior) is a deadly combination.

White people have, throughout history, believed themselves to be superior to other races. And they have not held back in attempting to subjugate, or simply eradicate other races.

Those two men thought because they are white, and the jogger was black, that they had the right to divest him of his life. And we (society) are allowing those men to continue to believe that. And not just those two men. All white men, boys, teenagers, that are watching this unfold are learning what happens when one of their own takes a life. We do nothing.

Injustice

Those two men were free to go home. And now, MONTHS later, finally, the death of the young jogger is being investigated. And to what end? Historically we don’t do so well with cases like this. Just look at any similar story. When a white man versus black man or kid and the white man is never found guilty. Maybe a slap on the wrist, maybe. With the national attention on this murder, perhaps justice will be done.

Those two men are home to this day living their lives. But that young man, who had his whole life ahead of him, he isn’t going to get to live his life. They made sure of that.

Standing Up

By overlooking this injustice, not taking action, then we are all guilty of murder. You might be thinking that you are not black and therefore it isn’t your problem. You are wrong. It is everyone’s problem. Only when all people stand united can we change the world. As a white person, I know that I have the power to help, solely based on the color of my skin. I say ENOUGH.

Everyone deserves the right to run safely. To know that they will get home to see their family again. Tomorrow I will be participating in a virtual run to celebrate and honor the life of that young man, Ahmaud Abery. His life ended way too soon. I will also be running to show that I will not stand by and silently watch these injustices unfold. If you would like to run tomorrow or want more information on the run, Runner’s World has a great article about it. Click here to read more.

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