Story by Augustus Turner
I am a black man who jogs.
When I jog, I always do so alone. I am also a Soldier, and a large one at that (about 6’2 240 lbs). This means every few years, I have to move to a completely new suburb, and jog, alone. This means that I, like every Soldier, is used to jogging alone, in new places, where people may not recognize, know, or be familiar with me. I am used to it. My wife is not.
For nearly ten years, Michelle Yeager Turner cautioned me about how I appear when I jog alone. She will not even let me out of the house unless I wear enough colorful and “innocent” clothing so as not to appear suspicious or threatening when I jog. While she has never said it directly, I know that every time I step out the door, she is afraid my appearance alone could get me killed.
Sometimes, in the back of my head, I foolishly think to myself:
I am just a black man who jogs!
I am a good person! Why would somebody shoot me just because I am black and unfamiliar? I am a former EMT. I volunteered in an emergency room for over a year to get my way into college. I have been a licensed attorney and active duty Army Officer for nine years. I have represented and helped over 60 sexual assault victims. I have run a legal aid clinic recognized as one of the best in the Army. I have worked with federal agents to put countless criminals behind bars and break up complex criminal enterprises. I have helped justify the destruction of hundreds of enemy targets in Iraq. I have cleared the names of wrongfully convicted criminals. Who would want to hurt me?
Well, none of that matters because…
I am still a black man who jogs.
If I frighten the wrong white person, or match the description of a threatening person…
I become no different from Ahumaud Arbery.
None of the good I have done in my life will stop a white vigilante mob from chasing me in their trucks, cocking their firearms as they approach me jogging, gunning me down, recording it, and apparently getting away with it.
Although I am a black man who jogs, please… treat me like a white man who jogs.