by Leslye Colvin

I am in the office and feel the need to maintain my composure as my inner voice screams. My tear ducts are dry but every cell of my being is weeping. Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of my mother taking her last breath and leaving her body, but this is not the reason for the profound sadness that is upon me.

The burden of living in a Black body descended from Africans who not identifying themselves as Black were kidnapped and dehumanized before being sold into chattel slavery. As a descendant of people with bodies, minds, and spirits strong enough to have endured such suffering, I too am strong. Yet, there are moments when the weight of four centuries bearing down on us seems to be fully present and detected. Moments like this day.

This is the day of sentencing for three men in white bodies who trapped and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. He was not the first to experience this brutality, nor will he be the last. These evil actions are beyond reprehensible. Having been convicted in both state and federal courts, a request has been made to first serve a federal sentence so as not to face the threats received from those incarcerated in the state prison. How dare they!

A normal person would have feared the consequences of murdering Arbery. These purveyors of white supremacy, racism, and anti-blackness were certain their whiteness would anoint their lies for their community. This is how the system was designed to work when people in white bodies deny the humanity and life of persons in Black and Brown bodies.

While the outcome has been different this time, I am not presumptuous enough to assume that things have changed and we can forget the past. Ahmaud Arbery was one person in a Black body. I am grateful that his parents lived to see these convictions, but we must have a complete overhaul of our systems engrained with racism and those in white bodies must lean into the discomfort of their privilege and consistently denounce white supremacy.

As you denounce these sins against humanity, you too will begin to weep — weep for what you denied, weep for what you refused to see, weep for what was done for you. Then, maybe we will weep together in our shared humanity and resolve to intentionally create the beloved community.