Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton
are doing the right thing when attending the Amaud Arbery trial.
They demonstrate the solidarity that the Black community has with
each other when one of us is lynched. Lynching has reverberations.
Each of us, every Black person, is repulsed and dismayed when we
learn that armed white men, using the pretense of “citizen’s
arrest," can kill any of us. What is a citizen’s arrest,
anyway? Is it simply a license to kill?
Gough, the attorney “defending” William “Roddie”
Bryant, the man who both took the video of the massacre and
participated in it, has asked the judge, each day, to bar Rev Jesse
Jackson from the courtroom. How absurd! He says Rev. Jackson’s
presence might influence the nearly all-white jury, and I suspect his
objections might lay the groundwork for an appeal if the devilish
white men are found guilty of murder.
racism and ignorance have been a constant presence in this trial. He
said he didn’t want more Black pastors in the courtroom after
Rev. Sharpton sat with the Arbery family. He asked the stupid
question, “How many pastors does the Arbery family have."
He had the nerve, though, out of the jury's hearing, to ask if
Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, also a pastor, will be next in the
courtroom. What if he was?
Gough does not understand are the many ways that racism connects
Black people. In the book Lynching and Spectacle (University of North
Carolina Press, 2009), Amy Louise Wood writes, "The news of
lynching shook (the author Richard) Wright to his core. Despite, or
even because of, its relative rarity, lynching held a singular
psychological force, generating a level of fear and horror that
overwhelmed all other forms of violence. Even one lynching
reverberated, traveling with sinister force, down city streets, and
through rural farms, across roads and rivers." Any of us could
be followed and shot on any day. We have no shield. We can be
unarmed and running. In bed and sleeping (ask Breonna Taylor), or
simply walking down the street. And white folks see a threat because
they baked racism in the cake we call America. When we watch the
massacre of Amaud Arbery, we see ourselves, our sons, our daughters,
our mothers. That connects us. That’s why over one hundred
pastors rallied with Rev. Sharpton outside the Brunswick courthouse
in solidarity. I want Revs. Jackson, Sharpton, William Barber,
Freddy Haynes, and so many others rally at every massacre. Cause it's
personal. How dare this high-handed man, the offense attorney,
question anybody's religion, pastoral relationships, community
connections, or anything else?
will go down in the racist’s hall of fame, but he is not the
only one. All these “stand your ground” laws are an
absurd attempt to allow white people to shoot Black people with
impunity. Southern state legislatures empower white people to
embrace their racism with firearms, whether they are police officers
or ordinary citizens. It is frightening to think that we live in a
world where white fear, real or imagined, justifies a Black massacre.
the witness stand, one murderer admitted Arnaud did not say a word to
him, did not do a darn thing, but try to get away from him. He shot
him anyway! So some random white person follows a Black man and
attacks him because he is “scared." He should have kept
his scared self in his house and called the police. But no, he was a
white man with privilege, power, and a weapon. Why should he call
law enforcement when he could enforce the law himself?
how many pastors does the Arbery family have? As many as they want.
Black folks around the nation and the world are praying for a just
result in this trial. We are praying for a judicial ruling that the
massacre of Black people is unacceptable. We are praying for an
examination of this nonsense called “citizen’s arrest."
And we are praying for our leaders, our pastors, our brothers to
keep the faith and keep representing.
Gough does not “get” the Black community, and he doesn’t
have to. But what he needs to know, when he thundered about Black
pastors, is that all of us, Black people, are connected. How many
pastors do I have? As many as will claim me. Hundreds of Black
pastors have claimed the Arbery family because they relate to their
pain. Whether you are a pastor, you should claim them, too.