Why I Didn’t Run Like Ahmaud

by Alexis Dean 5 months ago in healing

I don’t want to run anymore...

Why I Didn’t Run Like Ahmaud
“Tomorrow might be just another day to run...” | Bill Withers

As much as I would like to believe that I am completely fearless and strong in life, I sit here becoming more aware that some of my movements have been polluted with cautious thoughts for my survival.

After accepting that my teaching in public school would be possibly concluded for the year, Quarantine somewhat came to me with ease. It’s mainly because I creatively calculated the likelihood of me being murdered by racism within the walls of my bedroom, and the probability went down very low. But, knowing the story of Atatiana Jefferson, naivety didn’t allow me to chalk up this percentage as zero.

We haven’t forgotten you Atatiana...

My mornings no longer began with 2 mile 5:30am walks in the darkness trying to get to the Northside. One ear of my comforting headphones removed to hear unwanted danger lurking, constant pocket pats to make sure I have my wallet and ID secured, and frequent self-evaluations about whether or not I was walking too fast or too slow. The quicker pace I instinctively gained as I passed the house with an easy to be seen picture of a gun and flag by their front door, and the refused waves or smiles in return if I happened to see another early morning traveler with a different skin tone as me. Feeling invisible. And contently preferring that over “fitting a description”...

I loved the feeling of relief I had after I walked my 2 miles, and finally made it to my bus stop. It was a feeling of overwhelming joy every morning that I made it. I was proud that I found a walking route that was somewhat lit enough for me to be seen without being “intimidating,” a little bit of car movement so I could rarely be caught alone or away from hopefully working cameras, and enough beauty to maybe capture when I wasn’t using music to settle my nerves.

But, what was that relief?

Was it because I accomplished a feat, and finished a healthy workout to start the day? Partly. It’s also because every day my heart felt like I was toying with the idea of death, and was hoping to understand why I am like this. What was I trying to prove to the world? What was I trying to prove to myself? Why should I feel like I’m doing something wrong?

“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary...” | Malcolm X

As I tried to not sink in a hole of sadness by Ahmaud Arbery’s story, I couldn’t help but think about the times I used to travel through this darkness alone. Seeking freedom to do what everyone else should be able to, while battling my fear of attempting to seek that freedom. I didn’t join the powerful movement that arose after his story became viral, and it was because I couldn’t step out the door. I couldn’t press play on his heartbreaking video, read “Milwaukee’s black community hit hard by coronavirus” headlines anymore, and couldn’t see myself strong enough to challenge the hate like I did before.

I was running. But, in a whole different way...

First day out of Quarantine, I’m going to run. I don’t want to be praised for my actions. I don’t want to need a friend alongside of me as a cloak or security. I don’t want to have to post a picture because of what I’ve done. And I don’t want to feel accomplished for doing anything outside of the ordinary. I want to feel free. I want to feel the strength of Ahmaud.

Better days to me look like tying my fresh pair of shoes, standing up proudly to stretch, walking out this now hardly opened door, and having nothing to fear at all. No clouded thoughts, no feelings of intrusion. Just me with the open road. Running towards my goal, and not running from anything...

I don’t want to run anymore...

Alexis Dean
Alexis Dean
Read next: The Deception of Instagram
Alexis Dean

Alexis “L.E.X Dean is a clean Hip-Hop artist, poet, and educator from Milwaukee, WI. As a writer and music artist, he focuses on the importance of educating through his words and stories...

IG: @1LexDaTeacher


See all posts by Alexis Dean