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“Going out at night is a gamble for men of color,” says VOX ATL’s Terell Wright. “The night is a luxury we cannot enjoy in public alone or even in groups. Even being a minute late home after sunset scares my mother and prompts her to call me nonstop until I answer. “

Like Ahmaud Arbery, I Live In Small Town Georgia. A Frightening World Awaits.

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Another innocent young black man is shot in daylight. This time merely for going on a run in his neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. A video released this week shows Ahmaud Arbery, 25, being shot in broad daylight by two white men. On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 23, just after 1 p.m., Arbery was out for a jog when he passed two men, Travis and Gregory McMichael, standing by a parked truck, both armed with guns. 

On a released video of the killing, a shot erupts from one of the mens’ guns. Arbery tries to run for his life, while the other man holds him down with one hand, simultaneously holding a shotgun in the other. As he tries to get free, the other man proceeds to shoot Arbery again, and he collapses. 

On Wednesday, after seeing the video, I tried my best to stay inside all day and hide myself from the world. The thought that this could be me or any of my friends of color horrified me. When I finally forced myself to go into public to get dinner, I was more reserved and vigilant than I had ever been. 

The Only Black Man Visible For Miles

On my way to the restaurant, I heard police sirens and became shocked with an immense amount of fear. I remembered my insurance card was in the glove compartment. I thought to myself, if that cop stopped me and asked for it, I would have to lean over to get it. What if he thought I was reaching for a gun? Would he pull out his gun and shoot me? 

When I arrived at the restaurant and parked my car, I had to walk through my suburban Georgia town’s downtown sidewalk to reach the restaurant and order my food. As I got out of the car, a sharp feeling of discomfort and reality plagued my body. I was the only black man visible for miles. I felt out of place. Like I didn’t belong. Like I should be ashamed of looking different. 

Never had I felt so alone and vulnerable. Simply walking on a sidewalk, much like Ahmaud was running in his neighborhood, was now an action I have to worry about. At any moment, anything could’ve happened to me. Anyone can run up on me and attack me just simply for the color of my skin. 

Going Out at Night Is a Gamble

Among many of my white friends, fearing for your life is not very common. They’ve never had “the talk” with their parents about what being a black man in America means. They’ve never had to worry about a traffic stop turning into manslaughter. They’ve never had to worry about crossing a street or running in their neighborhoods. Or getting shot in cold blood. 

For myself and my Latino, Arab, and African-American friends, all of the scenarios listed above that otherwise sound carefree and mundane are harsh realities we must face every day. Going out at night is a gamble for men of color. The night is a luxury we cannot enjoy in public alone or even in groups. Even being a minute late home after sunset scares my mother and prompts her to call me nonstop until I answer. 

A Tragic Reality

For men of color, even in our own neighborhoods, we have the potential of being gunned down and our lives being robbed from us. An even more tragic reality is this — the people who would take our lives have a chance of getting away with it, much like the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery. At least, so far. As of Thursday, the father and son shooters have not been arrested or even charged with a crime. Until a video of the February killing was released this week, the shooting had not even received much media attention. Now that CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, WSB-TV in Atlanta and other outlets are reporting on Arbery’s death, public pressure is mounting to charge the men. 

A video of the Feb. killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, emerged this week, prompting outcry and calls for the white male shooters to be arrested and charged.

As my youth slips away and my journey to adulthood is on the close horizon, a frightening world seems to be waiting for me. A world where justice is ignored for those who have dark skin. A world that doesn’t take your intelligence or positive attributes into consideration but, instead, immediately considers you a threat and dangerous to others. A world where hate and bigotry are acceptable and encouraged on social media platforms

Resist Hate

Of course, not everything is negative. Although disappointing and odd to say, 2020 is also the best time to be a black man. We can now at least call out these people and protest and resist hate and racism through many platforms, and we can express ourselves and speak up when we see wrong. 

But it still hurts that we are still fighting for such basic levels of human compassion and fair treatment. It still hurts that we can’t go out without the fear of being discriminated against or shot. It hurts that this nation represents 240 years of discomfort and hell for many of us and our ancestors. 

The best we can do is keep our heads up, fight for what is right, love, and support one another as a community. And we can also hope we never have to have the same worries for our children and aspire that they grow up in a world where a black man can run in peace. 

Terell Wright, 17, attends Walnut Grove High School and enjoys politics, writing and aspires to work in public policy. 

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comments (30)

  1. Jean Pressoir

    No police officer or white person shouldn’t have the right or their call to be Judge, Jury, and Executioner on mostly people of color. No one deserves to be treated like a criminal or being called an animal just because you’re different as anybody else around anywhere you live. Officers and especially white bigots who killed those who were unarmed innocent citizens and not the ones that didn’t commit any crimes in the matter. Those cops and other bigots they have failed their communities, cities, and this country the U.S. Someday the police will face unattended consequences by someone coming after every one of them who failed this country.

  2. Andrea Sarvady

    This is beautiful writing about a terrible topic. I can’t wrap my mind around this racist country of ours. Black lives-and black voices-matter. You remind me why I donate to VOX. Thank you.

  3. Someone Who Cares

    Such a compelling article. It deserves the attention of the World. Terrells story should be published in larger media outlets. What he and so many other black and brown young men are dealing with is traumatic.

  4. James E. Lowe Jr. M.D.

    Terrell, I was happy to read your article and see the talent that is in our community. I wish I could say to you, “Terrell, don’t worry you will be alright” but I can not. I will say to you as a professional Black man that you must stay focused at all times on your hopes, dreams and aspirations . The lessons your parents taught you must never be forgotten. You must remember that you have worth and purpose in this world. I have no doubt that I will be reading great things about you in the future and I will remember your name.

  5. Sally Dorn

    What a heartfelt and thoughtful piece. Thank you Terrell Wright for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Charles Henry

    Great seeing you on CNN with Don Lemon! Well done young man, keep speaking your TRUTH!

  7. T Austin

    Great article and great interview on CNN/Don Lemons

  8. Machel Hunt MSC, BSC PGdDipl Psych

    Terell, thank you so much for your important commentary on this critical fact of our daily lives. Thank you for bold writing that captures the emotion that so many of us are feeling. I pray that the publicity that Ahmaud’s murder has generated will wake the public up to recognizing that we are at a critical breaking point in social consciousness for black people in this country. Thank you again sir, I appreciate you.

  9. Jose

    My condolences to the family of Ahmad my heart goes out to you and I’m so sorry for OUR LOSS!

    I am a Latino in small town but not so small town California. I’m surrounded by white people and I am afraid to go outside with a mask on because I don’t want to be accused of being a criminal because of the color of my skin. Since trump took office it’s been getting really bad here with racism and I thought about leaving this country to find a better place for my family. I served this country yet I don’t feel like this land is my own. Where do we go?

    Thank you for this article and please be safe and thank you for all your help. Good luck brother!

  10. Deborah L

    Dear Black Americans,
    Stop believing the narrative that you are disposable. You are worthy of love, respect, and honor. Never think otherwise.

  11. Coach Troy Gilton

    Young man I am extremely proud of you. I saw you on Don Lemmon and it was great to see a young man express himself in speaking out. I coach basketball and our goal is to teach our young generation how to be positive leaders to make a difference in their communities that is filled with crime. We are trying to change their mentality. You are an example of a future leader and it makes me proud young man. Keep up the great work. God Bless you and your family

  12. Maurice

    This article hit home. I, myself, being a black man didn’t leave the house for hours after seeing the video. But I remembered, I must stand tall, be brave, and keep moving forward. Keep up the good work, Terell.

  13. John Fitzpatrick

    Great article Terell. I saw you on CNN with Don Lemon. You are a brilliant, poised young man. I am so sorry you need to feel fear as an African American. Best of luck in your future endeavours. Best wishes from 🇨🇦 Canada.

  14. KC

    So proud of you Terrell. I saw you on CNN and read your article. The struggle is real. So is injustice. In spite of it all, hold your head up, stay focused on your path, pray and live your dreams. Never put limits on yourself. Reach for the stars young man.

  15. Black Educated Proud

    Mr. Wright, you did a fantastic job tonight on CNN! I pray this message finds you well and please know that you made us all proud tonight! Please keep writing and sharing with the world…! Please keep speaking out against injustice! #BlackLivesMatter #IRunwithAmaud #JusticeforAmaud

  16. Daryl MacLaren

    Terell, first, you have written a superb and thoughtful article. I truly that you and many of your peers have to experience the fear that you describe in your every day life. Good luck in your endeavors, you are obviously a very capable, thoughtful and intelligent young man, and I look forward to reading your articles in the future.

  17. Mayella Gardea

    Great article, Terell Wright. I’m sorry this event has made you feel so uncomfortable. Our young people of color should not have to live in fear of being a target. Best wishes for a successful future!

  18. J.A. James

    Simply AWESOME !!
    Thank you..
    I know without a thought that your Mother & Father are very proud of you.
    I love you.
    Be well and say SAFE.

  19. Jan

    God bless you young man. It is a shame and disgrace that in 2020 this still happens. It breaks my heart. Standing up and using your voice to call out this behavior is wonderful. We all should stand up against racism when we see or hear it and make it totally unacceptable.

  20. TaBetha Scott

    You are an amazing young man. Please keep speaking up and speaking out. You bring this white woman to tears.

  21. Jeffrey

    What an awesome young man, Terrell Wright is , I saw you on CNN and was so impressed with you. I’m a 68 year old white man that grew up in Memphis and Atlanta , I remember separate entrances for blacks at department stores. I remember blacks being sent to the rear of the bus. I remember Lester Maddox, governor or Georgia in the 70’same carrying an axe handle to a restaurant in downtown . I remember.
    I traveled on the same bus as my black friends when we were with Ike and tina, the Allman bros. Stevie wonder, herbie hancock, Chaka kahn, ,
    I’ve seen my brothers treated badly, treated differently than the white guys in the band, saw hotel clerks give keys to the white guys and require the tour manager to get them for the black guys, that was just five years ago,
    How screwed up is that? Maybe I know better because I was able to get to know these fine people, I lived with some brothers in the 70’s, thy are my friends, my buddies, they took me to jazz clubs in Watts where I was the only white kid and I was accepted why can’t we accept our black and brown brothers to be like us. Why?
    I’m so proud of young Terrell Wright, I wish there were more people like him. I’m not religious , but please bless him and his family .

  22. Shekeva Phillips

    So well stated. I am so very proud of you. Your entire Abu Dhabi family is so very proud of you. Let us all pray for our boys and men of color. I understand the desire to fear, but my faith reminds me we were not created with a spirit of fear. Have YOUR way FATHER. Justice is YOUR Victory. Amen

  23. Kesa Albritton

    Terrell, Thank you for your honest and transparent expression of life as a Black male in this country. Your writing is exceptional. It allows us to literally feel and visualize your fear, pain and hope for justice, unity and a future where this is NOT the reality of Black people in America. You have an amazing gift with a have a very bright future, ahead of you. I look forward to seeing and reading more from you! May God continue to bless you and your family with UNCOMMON favor and protection.

  24. Angie Wells

    Terrell, As always, you have made your ECC Family very proud! Great job on CNN lastnight. You humbly and passionately articulated what so many are feeling in the midst of this tragedy and this clear travesty of justice! You are destined and predestined for great things!

  25. Another person who cares

    Mr Terrell, thank you for your article! Clearly you are a very intelligent and articulate young man. That is what certain types of people refuse to see in us and when and if they do, they’re intimidated by it. I’m very proud of you and I don’t even know you! But the reality is, I don’t need to know you to see your heart and spirit! I was moved by your article and your interview on TV. I really wish that I could say “everything will be okay” but we are unfortunately in (and have been for a long time) in a very troubled time in society and we have people promoting very negative behavior. Please stay positive, continue listening and always remember the values that your parents instilled in you and stay focused on your aspirations! YOU BELONG HERE!! A suggestion on your insurance card; keep it over your sun visor and this way, you don’t have to reach! Please keep up the great work! We need you young man!!

  26. Catherine Hillis

    You are an excellent writer. Thank you.

  27. Yvette

    You are an amazing writer. You are going to change the world.

  28. Theresa Lee

    As I read this article I thought it was written by a professional journalist. Well done, Terell!!

  29. GG

    Thank you for this! I pray for a day that we as humanity can eradicate hate… racism and all of its forms.

  30. Frances Cox

    Young man, please continue on your path! We need, no we must have, people like you to speak truth to power! Thank you for these words, they are power-ful.