Before we offer-up our “thoughts and prayers” for Ahmaud Arbery and his family, perhaps we should think and pray about the fact that we live in a country where heavily armed White men storm state capitol buildings and are hailed as patriots, while unarmed Black men are gunned down on our streets.
The pundits and politicians and attorneys will spin the murder of Ahmaud Arbery until we are so dizzy that we don’t know who or what to believe. We’ll be overwhelmed with phrases like “perceived threat” and “citizen’s arrest” and “stand your ground” until we’re so dizzy that right and wrong are blurred beyond recognition. Our irrational fears and prejudices will be stoked until we are so dizzy that the next murder of an unarmed Black citizen becomes just another moment for thoughts and prayers.
In their November 2018 pastoral letter entitled, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love—A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state that “The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that makes us all accomplices in racism.”
Without action, our thoughts and prayers are hollow, self-serving rituals to ease our collective conscience. Indeed, the massacre of unarmed African Americans will continue unabated until we get serious about owning, confessing and confronting our own personal racism and our nation’s institutional racism. Not sure where to start? Start by thinking and praying about one simple question: What if Ahmaud Arbery were your son?
Keith G. Kondrich