I had an opportunity to read about Ahmaud Arbery, although through the rose-colored lens of blatantly liberal lenses. He had a decent family and he had some semblance of male leadership. (Noted, one of his teachers had good things to say about him and a football coach talked about his hard work, overcoming being undersized, and being an energized teammate). He had a few male relatives that were electricians or at least (for what I read) were involved with surrounding industrial concerns. He seemed to have had a few jobs before. But I had seen something that concerned me; demeanor and appearance.
Someone online had politely disagreed with me when I had mentioned that most police skip over a man who is well dressed, polite, and showing some essence of decorum. Or at least that person who disagreed with my belief that you can do things in your life to not encourage a cop (or dumbass vigilante) from shooting you. It isn’t a popular idea, but it is one that I learned firsthand.
I was a rough faced (off season for wrestling) 16-year-old kid. Not having a set of wheels, I walked to a friends place a few miles from my house. I was wearing a poorly buttoned, unfitting flannel shirt with dirty jeans. Coupled with sandals, I couldn’t be mistaken for someone with class. I was lucky that night that the police that investigated a burglary were willing to use their brains instead of their nightsticks. I was searched and cuffed. Afterwards, put in the back of the patrol car. Cops mentioned that someone fitting my description was seen prowling. (Irony is that I knocked on my friends back door, possibly alerting the neighbors). I was lucky that I didn’t have anything with me, tool wise. The next set of cops that drove up recognized me and collaborated my story. I got chewed out by my family. Those same family told me the following:
You can act and look like you have class. You don’t have to be rich but you can hold yourself as a gentleman.
Many men among me don’t like hearing that. They make excuses for themselves. It is somewhere near the pity party and victim culture. But I stick with what I have told you, you can act like you have class.
You can act like you have a sense of decorum. You can speak to someone you don’t like with a minimum amount of “respect”. You don’t have to be a stereotype of “trailer trash” or “hood rat”/ “banger”. It doesn’t matter what skin color or race you are.
Inconveniently; Mr. Arbery failed to do any of this in his arrest/detainment videos. The few videos, (assuming that he was in them), showed me a great failure on his part. No matter if it was the shirtless guy with his pants hung low in the park cursing at the cops or the guys in the Walmart parking lot that failed to impress with a poorly delivered story. Contrary to the story given; he was failing the challenge to grow on to the next stages. From a cultural standpoint, he held on to some backward beliefs.
You might think that I am a little shallow, I struggled with many things that he had. I might never have been African American but I have been outside of the community. I don’t relate with others. I am not super fond about community policing. But I chose to move on and be the better example for my world. I don’t keep bad company; it is easier to not keep company at all if people are shit. The lone wolf, generally spoken, doesn’t get thrown off cliffs by his own pack.
I know people among me think I am making light of his death. No; I am not. We can learn from him. It is up to us to become the best among us. His life was cut short, no matter who did the shooting. I hope that our lives can be longer and more complete.