I was out with my husband, taking our daily pandemic walk, when out of the blue we came across a most unusual sight. A reasonable white male.
He looked like the other whites we’d seen so many of in Georgia — he was driving a pickup truck, wearing jeans splattered with dirt or paint, he had a red neck, burned from the sun we assumed — but this one was different.
We approached him with caution. We knew from years of reading about them, and interacting with them, that their reputation for extreme and deadly violence, particularly against people of color, was warranted.
I kept a distance as my husband moved closer to him. I made sure to give myself enough space to video or photograph any dangerous moves he might make, and had an exit strategy to call for help or intervene if I needed to.
My husband was taking a photo of a metal sculpture placed on top of a bar in front of where the man was standing.
The man made the first move. Telling my husband about his business. Telling him that the Governor of Georgia was an idiot. That the COVID-19 virus was far from leveling off, and opening businesses this soon would kill people. There was no conspiracy. “People should know their history. This has happened before,” the man said. “Human life was more important than making money,” he added.
The conversation ended and my husband and I walked away feeling excited. We had escaped unscathed and we had spotted an extraordinarily rare white. We could tell our friends about it. Our walk was worth it.
This one was just there right in front of us, and yet so few of them exist. We felt lucky in a way to have met one in the present day, but we always maintain the knowledge that at any moment one of them could strike and sadly, we’d have no recourse. They seem to always get away with murder.
RIP Ahmaud Arbery