What Is Justice?
Murder should not need to go viral to bring about justice. But what even is justice? Nothing can bring Ahmaud Arbery back to life. The overdue arrest of the two white gunmen who murdered the 25-year-old for *jogging while black* is not justice. Charging them with murder and aggravated assault is not justice. Jail time for racist killers is not justice. If it ever happens (tragically, a massive ‘if'), conviction will not be justice. Nothing is remotely enough, nor anywhere soon enough. But each are indeed small, important steps toward the type of true justice that is desperately lacking in this nation.
How can violent, armed white supremacists hunt down and murder a black man in broad daylight without repercussion for two months, without law enforcement taking action, without any consequence — until a video of the murder is posted on Twitter and brings about massive public outcry? Because of countless things seriously wrong with our country — insidious, deep, systemic, institutionalized, ingrained wrongs that pose constant threats to the lives of black and brown people in America, who are targeted for mere existence, as are LGBTQ, Muslim, Jews, and other communities across this nation. Look at hate crime statistics and victims to see how the tragic, unspeakable, inexcusable reality manifests day to day. Talk to a black American.
I will never know what it is like to be targeted for the color of my skin. But I am horrified, appalled, hurt, enraged and know damn well that there is work to be done to dismantle the violent hatred, sick institutionalized racism and raging white supremacy that led to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and many more of our black brothers, sisters and folks whose names we know and those whose stories we will never hear. We, the people, must always rise up, show up, speak up, put our names and comfort and lives on the line to remain vigilant, work tirelessly to change systemic ills, fight white supremacy, combat racism wherever and whenever it heinously appears, and directly challenge hatred with all we have.
We not only need a thorough investigation into what happened 74 days ago — though the cold-blooded murder is undeniable, a public lynching caught graphically on tape with Arbery being shot and dying in the street — and how law enforcement failed not only the family, but due process, basic humanity, and the very tenets they are to protect, defend and embody, but also into the soul of the nation where racist, white supremacist murders and hate crimes occur with outrageous and appalling frequency. And it will happen again — it already has, it is right now, as you and I live and breathe and jog.
What is justice? Define it. Name it. Fight for it — with your voice, your power, your platform, your privilege, your person, your all. For Ahmaud Arbery, for every black American, for every human being. Period.