Posted on May 15, 2020

Ahmaud Arbery and the Resilience of Black Protest

Brandon Tensley, CNN, May 12, 2020

The protests were striking. No, not the mostly white and maskless militaristic ones demanding that the country reopen even in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, but the ones drawing attention to another arbitrary black death.

Since a video showing the fatal February 23 shooting of Ahmaud Arbery surfaced on a local Georgia radio station’s website last week, black Americans have felt a familiar emotion: rage, aimed at a world of impunity and injustice. As before, it’s had a mobilizing effect.

On Friday, protesters gathered, in Georgia near where Arbery was killed and beyond, to prevent their country from looking away from the tragedy. (Across America, supporters also ran 2.23 miles to honor Arbery, who would’ve turned 26 years old that day.)


Unlike the crowds advancing a decidedly different cause in other parts of the country, most of the people who gathered on Friday appeared to be wearing face masks — a moving display of empathy despite being choked with fury and pain.

Something else also distinguished these events from others: the protesters themselves.


Black Americans seemed to make up the majority of the attendees, illuminating in heartrending fashion that not even a pandemic could discourage people who felt betrayed by their country — I didn’t need the video; we already knew; mourn with me — from attempting to make it better.


They had to, of course. Part of this country’s story is that if black Americans don’t champion their own, no one will.