He saw him running down the street of their lovely neighborhood. But a black man running down our streets? Must be up to some mischief, thought A.
He quickly called his son and asked him to get in the truck, they were going to chase after him. Bring weapons, of course, you had to have those. And so they did.
They chased after the black man, caught up and yelled at him to stop, they needed to talk. But the black man was too scared to stop.
He could have. He just didn’t. Something about the rage in the white men asking him to halt.
A scuffle followed, fists flew, and shots were fired.
The black man fell to the ground, mortally wounded.
He was a neighbor it turned out, lived in the outskirts of town with his mother.
He had gone out for a jog, stopped by a construction site and went in to check it out. There were no signs barring him from doing so. He was curious and stepped in. He looked around for a while, then went back out and resumed his jog.
But A. and son had already set after him.
The killing was reported to the local authorities and was on its way to being buried and forgotten when someone in the court system leaked a video to the press.
The case became national news.
A. and son were arrested and charged with the black man’s murder.
Sitting alone in his cell, A. reflected on the incident. His life forever changed. He had never killed a man. Now he had.
If he thought the black man may have been up to mischief, he could’ve pulled up alongside him, asked him to please slow down, he just needed to ask him something. He could’ve done it without the rage in his eyes. He could have done it without the accusatory tone.
But he didn’t.
Why didn’t he?
The black man had been jogging. He was carrying nothing in his hands. But A. assumed the fellow had done something wrong. He had assumed a black man in a white man’s neighborhood would have to be up to some mischief. What else?
Sitting alone in his cell, A. reflected on the incident. His life now forever changed. But not only his life but his son’s life.
He didn’t like the feeling.
One thing was to have had all those preconceptions about black people, another was to have passed them on to his son.
He felt worse.
He had not examined his rage for black folks, and then passed it on to his son.
He was an old man, now. Retired. But his son was just starting out in life.
Why had he done that to him?
Why hadn’t he had the courage to say to him, ‘son, I have my views on race, but you need to make up your own mind. I may just be wrong about all this. I may just be wrong because I haven’t really thought about it real hard. So, son, you think about it. Think about it, make your own choices, and live your own life.’
As he sat in his cell, feeling alone and depressed, saddened that his life had come to this, what hurt him the most was that he had passed his hatred of others on to his son. What hurt him the most, was that he didn’t give his son permission to be his own man.
Sitting alone in his cell, A. kept reflecting on the incident.
He felt tired.
And just who had taught him to hate? Had he learned on his own? Had any black man ever injured him?
No one had.
When he was a young man he had thought of leaving his town and going somewhere else, see how other people thought about things, but he hadn‘t done it.
When his son was growing up, he had thought of telling him to go off, get away from this town, and find out how other people think in the world.
He had thought about it but hadn’t done it.
Now he regretted it.
Sitting alone in his cell, A. thought of himself as a trapped man. No one was holding him down or tying him up. He was trapped by his own views and thoughts. And what hurt him the most now, was that he had trapped his own son.
Every man had to be responsible for his actions. To do so every man had to have thoughts of his own.
Sitting alone in his cell, A. thought that he hadn’t put in the time to have thoughts of his own. Certainly not on the matter of race. And he hadn’t taught his son, either.
That’s what hurt him the most.
And it was on him.
Yes, it was.
He wanted to apologize to the mother of the man he had killed, yes, he did, but he wanted to apologize, most of all, to his own son, his own blood, whose life he had cursed.