There is nothing I can say about Mitchell S. Jackson‘s Runner’s World article-essay-history-elegy on Ahmaud “Maud” Arbery and the deep-seated racism of “jogging” in America other than: read it. Read it, and feel it, and then do something about it. “But I’m not a runner”? Doesn’t matter. As Jackson well knows and explains, sports are culture are people are us; we are a deeply racist country, which means sports are deeply racist, which means Maud became “fleeing Black criminal” instead getting to be “Black man out for a run.”
On February 23, 2020, a young man out for a run was lynched in Glynn County, Georgia.
His name was Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, called “Quez” by his beloveds and “Maud” by most others. And what I want you know about Maud is that he had a gift for impressions and a special knack for mimicking Martin Lawrence. What I want you to know about Maud is that he was fond of sweets and requested his mother’s fudge cake for the birthday parties he often shared with his big sister. What I want you to know about Maud is that he signed the cards he bought for his mother “Baby Boy.” What I want you to know about Maud is that he and his brother would don the helmets they used for go-carting and go heads-up on their trampoline, and that he never backed down from his big brother. What I want you to know about Maud is that he jammed his pinkie playing hoop in high school and instead of getting it treated like Jasmine advised, he let it heal on its own—forever crooked. What I want you know about Maud is that he didn’t like seeing his day-ones whining, that when they did, he’d chide, “Don’t cry about it, man. Do what you gotta do to handle your business.” What I want you to know about Maud is that Shenice told me he sometimes recorded their conversations so he could listen to her voice when they were apart. What you should know about Maud is that he adored his nephews Marcus III and Micah Arbery, that when they were colicky as babies, he’d take them for long walks in their stroller until they calmed. What you should know about Maud is that when a college friend asked Jasmine which parent she’d call first if ever in serious trouble, she said neither, that she’d call him. What I want you to know about Maud is that he was an avid connoisseur of the McChicken sandwich with cheese. What I want you know about Maud is that he and Keem were so close that the universe coerced each of them into breaking a foot on the same damn day in separate freak weight-room accidents, and that when they were getting treated in the trainer’s office, Maud joked about it. You should know that Maud dreamed of a career as an electrician and of owning a construction company. You should know that Maud gushed often of his desire to be a great husband and father. You should know that he told his boys that he wanted them all to buy a huge plot of land, build houses on it, and live in a gated community with their families. You should know that Maud never flew on a plane, but wanderlusted for trips to Jamaica, Japan, Africa. What you must know about Maud was that when Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan stalked and murdered him less than three months shy of his 26th birthday, he left behind his mother Wanda, his father Marcus Sr., his brother Buck, his sister Jasmine, his maternal grandmother Ella, his nephews, six uncles, 10 aunts, a host of cousins, all of whom are unimaginably, irrevocably, incontrovertibly, poorer from his absence.
Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was more than a viral video. He was more than a hashtag or a name on a list of tragic victims. He was more than an article or an essay or posthumous profile. He was more than a headline or an op-ed or a news package or the news cycle. He was more than a retweet or shared post. He, doubtless, was more than our likes or emoji tears or hearts or praying hands. He was more than an R.I.P. t-shirt or placard. He was more than an autopsy or a transcript or a police report or a live-streamed hearing. He, for damn sure, was more than the latest reason for your liberal white friend’s ephemeral outrage. He was more than a rally or a march. He was more than a symbol, more than a movement, more than a cause. He. Was. Loved.