I ran/walked. I did not run/walk 2.23 miles in honor of Ahmaud Arbery, nor was it join a new #hashtag movement, or to show my solidarity to those who wear my Blackness, or even display my outrage for these senseless shootings. I ran/walk, nevertheless. The reasons mentioned are enough to run. Highlighting the lynching of our people demands a collective voice—the voice of one people.
We no longer desire to be a part of any other group protesting for equal rights, WE, want a singular voice and message to be heard. Our voice! Our Message. I AM BLACK, I AM A MAN. I AM A BLACK MAN. I AM A BLACK MAN OF INESTIMABLE VALUE, and so are all of us who are royally adorned with this robe of Blackness.
Why did I run? The answer is simple. I ran because we, as a people, are always running. Running to catch the bus; running to be healthy, and we RUN to save over lives. We run. We also run to surpass the systemic racial and racist biases we continue to encounter in our daily lives. We experience this in the mundane activities like entering our apartment complexes, walking on campus, walking back home after purchasing Skittles and a drink, and playing with our nephew. These actions would have never risen in our consciousness to be places deemed unsafe for us to wear our robes. So then, let us pause for a moment. A moment to awaken us from this collective nightmare.
We are running because the sharp piercing teeth of the accusers have pulled the sheets over heads of those found guilty without due process. The fundamental unfairness like a starter’s pistol puts in motion individuals who are running for different reasons. Ahmaud, went back to his daily run. The others, unlike the non-incriminating lens of a motion camera, moved in pursuit to act upon the unseen. White hot, black cold.
May a sigh escape my lips, so I can breathe to inhale a dream. I am running for a dream. Yes, a dream, wherein a boy’s natural curiosity moves him beyond 2.23 miles. Not a to an iron clad casket prison but to the warmth of sunshine, and his new neighbors as they would graciously put their hands up to wave.
Can we imagine a woke reality for “us” wherein the finish line will never be marked by death streamers (yellow crime scene tape), and chalk lines? For the others of “us”, who remain in the race, the finish line is a moving mirage. The rules of competition shift. They shift with every backbreaking stride we take to soar above the unjustly weighted hurdles.
We can hear the feet of those who started the race before us, beating like a drum to the song of our lives, RUN. Their callused feet thump the land of humanity’s origin; their bodies direct the leaves to play a concerto for the reigning kings, queens, princes, princesses, and chiefs as they RUN. As the rulers of a forgotten monarchy we ran free. Now, we are captives of lady injustice, therefore, we cannot run.
The miseducation of others lighter than us has tarnished our robes. Consequently, our personhood has been woefully weaponized us to fit the falsehood of the day. Others crimson, Black criminal. So, I run, longing to hear the symphony of Kings. The robes of a people ripped by hot bullets while the assassin’s tongue speak its folly. Innocence stolen, so I ran, you ran, WE RUN!