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When a Walk Is No Longer Just a Walk

After Ahmaud Arbery’s death, even stepping out the front door for a walk provokes a protracted mental checklist of how to stay safe in my own neighborhood.
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The evening I found out Ahmaud Arbery was killed, I fried whiting fish in the air fryer, and I can’t lie, it was damn good. So good that I had to have two Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls to complement the meal along with the broccoli and cauliflower. Afterwards, I felt I might have overdone it a bit so I decided I’d take a walk. By this time, it’s 9 p.m.

I walked to my front door, and told my fiancée that I’d be back soon. She said OK, with a tinge of trepidation — just enough to snap me back into reality. I was reminded that I live in America, in a nice neighborhood, and that I am a large negro. My mind flooded with scenarios of everything that could go wrong on my walk, based on everything that had gone wrong for others like me. Others whose nights I imagine began as innocently as my own.