Ahmaud Arbery
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Ahmaud Arbery, the Killing of Whiteness, & the Preservation of Black Lives in America

Celucien L. Joseph

There’s something terribly wrong with this country’s justice system if we have to celebrate the arrest of those who have committed horrific acts of evil or violence against Black and African people.

That was the national response yesterday (May 7, 2020) when Glynn County Police Officers arrested the two white supremacists who slaughtered jogger Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, in Brunswick, Georgia. Arguably, this incident illustrates the gaping hole in America’s democratic wall.

If Black people in this country have to demand and plead for justice every time a crime is committed against us, there’s something tragic about our democracy, our collective moral conscience, and our regard for human life and dignity.

Let’s stop singing “God bless America” until we reconstitute this nation and ourselves, restructure its justice system, and humanize the Black experience. Let’s renew the American mind toward equal and pure justice, moral decency, and a high value of Black lives & the most vulnerable in society.

The fundamental reason Black people keep shouting that Black Lives Matters is simply because the structure of our justice system and public policies denies that reality. Our laws and democracy never fully deracinated the hegemonic omnipresence of white power in society and never resolved the overwhelming impact of white privilege in culture.

The Hole in the Nation’s Democratic Wall

Black lives and the life of the most vulnerable will matter only if the people of this nation, in their diversity and various expressions, deliberately continue to challenge the unjust structures embedded in the nation’s justice system and public policies, reassess the country’s moral standing, and eradicate the dominion of whiteness in society.

It may appear the American nation is democratically independent and sovereign and has enjoyed unrelenting years of political freedom, power, and liberty. Yet since the birth of this nation, our collective soul has been restless to experience genuine internal peace and true freedom.

The democracy we have constructed has never been fully tried in every segment of American life. America’s lofty Enlightenment ideals have never been extended to radically transform the experience and life of every American citizen. A central reason for this attitude and reaction lies in personal beliefs and collective refusal to confront internal fears and reevaluate the dark moments of our history and the inhumane side of our laws.

The American freedom we have sustained in the past four hundred years and even championed at the world’s stage has never crossed the boundary of race relations and human solidarity. It never tested the limits of white supremacy and human hospitality. American freedom has never transgressed the purity of racial ideas and the politics of racial prejudice that mark the nation’s nascent human relations and social dynamics.

Fixing the Hole

Consequently, this nation must question their apathy toward Black death and interrogate the lack of empathy toward human suffering, especially the tragedy of Black pain and suffering. In our everyday practices, it is of vital importance to incorporate ethics of responsibility and accountability toward Black life and that of the most vulnerable groups in our society. A true democracy must uphold the value and worth of human life and destroy every deliberate and unjust attempt to eradicate that.

Toward this goal, it would require this nation and its elected officials undo the racist aspects of our democratic structure and judicial system and foster a democratic life that is predicated upon a rigorous anti-racist foundation that is grounded on the ethics of hospitality, social justice, respect for human life, interconnectedness, and mutual reciprocity and accountability.

No matter the cost this nation will pay and should render, the people of this country must kill whiteness as a construct for the preservation of Black lives and the safety of the most vulnerable. This is the commitment we together must undertake to experience genuine internal peace and interracial harmony for the sake of human dignity and the future generations. This choice is mine and yours also.

The killing of Ahmaud Arbery is a matter of the dignity and sanctity of Black life that is questioned and dehumanized. We are always at risk and in danger in this country. The killing of Ahmaud, a son, brother, friend, and human is not about politics. It’s a question of the moral value and worth, and the preservation and safety of Black lives.

We mourn the destruction of Black lives.

We lament the end of Black lives.

We are outraged about the daily vulnerability and insecurity of Black lives.

We lose words when Black lives are gone.


9 thoughts on “Ahmaud Arbery, the Killing of Whiteness, & the Preservation of Black Lives in America

  1. Matt

    Firstly, the killing of Mr. Arbery was horrifying and sad. I do believe these men are guilty and should fully be prosecuted in a court of law.
    To your article.
    You have artfully stated speculation and feelings. May I provide some facts. In the US in 2016, total whites killed = 3,499; whites killed by blacks = 533. 15% of of whites killed in 2016 were killed by blacks. The total of blacks killed the same year was 2,870; blacks killed by whites = 243. 8% of blacks were killed by whites. If there was such a problem with whiteness as you say, and due to the higher proportion of whites to blacks, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the number of blacks killed by whites should be much higher? Based on your speculation that “whiteness” is such a plague to blackness, how do you explain an almost 2 to 1 ratio of black on white killings? Based on the fact that 90% of blacks are killed by other blacks, should you, with all due respect, write more about blackness than the “scourge of whiteness?”
    Editorial note, “killings” in the above equate to “murders.” Just to be clear.
    I wonder how many people will actually read this far.
    I apologize if I have come across somewhat snarky. It’s just that the nebulous assertions against the boogeyman of whiteness and the idolIzation of victimhood found on The Witness do nothing to promote reconciliation which is only to be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. IMO

  2. Lee

    Too much senseless killing going on! All colors!!!!
    I think the Bible calls it SIN!
    2 Chronicles 7: 14 calls for humbling ourselves before God!
    Until that happens it will continue.

  3. Lester Hardegree

    As with many whites, I also grieve about Ahmaud’s killing. What a very sad loss of life.

    However, I fully disagree with Dr. Joseph’s statement that this is not about politics AND the “omnipresence of white power in society and never resolved the overwhelming impact of white privilege in culture.”

    Exam the true history of the Democratic Party and you should become aware of its negative impact on racism in the USA! In addition, IMHO, it is about the omnipresence of sin in humans of all races in this country. Dr. Joseph’s says that “A true democracy must uphold the value and worth of human life and destroy every deliberate and unjust attempt to eradicate that.” So, why are there so many abortions and why is it that the Democrats support such terrible actions? Oh, btw, why do overwhelming number of Blacks support the Democratic Party? This issue is not about Whiteness! It is about politics and human sin. PERIOD!

  4. Dave Werner

    Great article.
    I am so sorry for this latest piling-on, with the news of the shootings of Ahmaud Arbery, and Douglas C. Lewis. I cannot imagine the depth of now-familiar hurt this brings to you and your families, so it is difficult to know the words to offer.

    But I do know our God: comforts the affilicted; cares for us and knows every hair on our head; will exact his justice on behalf of the oppressed, and his wrath on the unjust; will heal us with a Balm in Gilead; and will find ways to redeem our difficult circumstances.

    Please know that I lament with you, in the ways I know how, and I pray that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will comfort, encourage, and protect you and your loved ones. We have already begun discussions at our multi-cultural church on how to respond in support of our own members who are people of color, and in support of our diverse neighborhood.

  5. Dr. Celucien Joseph

    On the date of the rest, it was a typo. It happened on May 7, 2020. I will contact the editor to change it. Thank you so much.

  6. NikkiJean

    Just a gentle heads up that the date listed for the arrest is incorrect… thank you ?

  7. Heather O

    Beautiful & spot on. I hope we are all listening and are outraged, mourning and lamenting the loss of life and words.

  8. Dr. Celucien Joseph

    The pleasure is mine. Let’s continue the fight for justice and for the preservation of black life in this country!

  9. Esther

    This was well written! Thank you Joseph for pointing out the discrepancies of the democracy towards African Americans.

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