Trillia Newbell – A lament for Ahmaud Arbery

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Monday, May 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Brian Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentator Trillia Newbell now on the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: When news broke that a young black  man was shot, my first instinct was to mourn. Not another one, I thought to myself. I decided to read as much as possible to gain understanding. And the more I learned, the greater the grief.

By this time, it’s likely we’ve all heard of Ahmaud Arbery. He was murdered while running through a Georgia neighborhood in February. As soon as a video of the shooting surfaced, it sparked an immediate public outcry. I was one of the many who ran in his honor on May 8th, which would have been his 26th birthday. 

But not everyone was mourning. Plenty of people took to social media with hopes of tarnishing Arbery’s character. Images of someone who looked like Arbery walking into a construction site began to circulate. Then came discussion of a possible incident when he was 19 years old. 

My hope for a society that could come together when the evidence was mounting against the assailants began to fade. 

It doesn’t matter if he went into a construction site during his run. It doesn’t matter if we find out that he had anything, criminal or otherwise, in his past.

And even if there were a burglary involved, execution is inexcusable. Private citizens may not stalk, ambush, and kill someone. Arbery was unarmed and jogging—nothing warrants his tragic demise. 

All of us who are pro-life understand just how precious life is. God created Ahmaud Arbery in His image. Whether Arbery knew Jesus or not doesn’t take away his value and worth. The color of Arbery’s skin doesn’t determine his significance. He is valuable because God created him. 

We all know this. So, when I see an unarmed black man gunned down, my heart breaks. It breaks for his family, it breaks for our country, it breaks for the pending divide we will see over yet another story like this. It breaks because an image-bearer lost his life in an unspeakable way. 

I’ve imagined what it would have been like if we all heard this story without knowing what these men looked like or where they were. How might the responses have changed? 

Most of us would agree every life is valuable. Most of us would agree that no one should be forced to answer questions from strangers holding guns. Even if we disagree about the idea of citizen’s arrest, almost no one condones killing an unarmed man.

The trouble with these situations is that the moment we insert race—it becomes a divisive issue, rather than one we all mourn. But ethnicity does matter in these situations, because we are continuing to see unarmed black men die. There’s no excuse for it, and that’s why you see an outcry from the black community and beyond.

Our reaction isn’t an overreaction. It’s a desire to see unity, peace, love, and justice. Most of the calls I see from my African American brothers and sisters are calls for justice and lament. And that’s all any of us can hope for.

Justice is coming one way or the other—whether by the court of law or by the Lord Himself. One day every tear will be wiped away, but for now we mourn as we wait. 

I’m Trillia Newbell.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore) A memorial at the spot where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed is shown Friday, May 8, 2020, in Brunswick Ga. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Trillia Newbell – A lament for Ahmaud Arbery

  1. Chris says:

    According to the latest FBI statistics, in 2016:

    533 black people killed 3,499 white people. That’s 15%.
    243 white people killed 2,870 black people. That’s 8%.

    Already, black people kill white people at a rate twice that of white on black killings. Blacks make up 12.1% of the population. When you adjust for population, blacks kill whites at a rate of 15 times more than whites kill blacks.

    But I’m sure this comment won’t make it through moderation.

  2. Carla Himpelmann says:

    I read this in hopes of learning factual details of the case in order to know if there was actual racism demonstrated or if it was another story the the media turned into a race issue, fueling the issue they say should be resolved. However sad the situation is, it’s sad for ALL involved (agreed, more so for the family of the young man). I’m not sure if this forum is supposed to be an opinion piece or news reporting, but in these divisive cases I would prefer to be given just give us the facts.

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