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On Running. . .

(The African American Cultural Center in Brunswick, Georgia. Photo by Bubba73)

Editor’s Note: With this exploration of the tension between privilege and vulnerability, we renew our collaboration with the Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program. In September 2020, a panel of local scholars responded to the current violence and racism in the US by connecting APA histories and struggles with those of other communities. Only by building alliances can such violence be stopped.

On Running Through an Unfamiliar Neighborhood the Day After Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Are Charged with a Hate Crime

the air is heavy but I have time this morning so I run
down Massachusetts Route 66 until I take a left on an unfamiliar street

half a block in a car passes me and then stops
why I don’t know. my mind flashes to the video

of Ahmaud Arbery running through his neighborhood in Georgia
until three white men in two trucks trap and shoot him

why did this gray sedan pause in the middle of the street?
maybe the driver stopped for an animal?

the car drives on and I continue running lost in my thoughts
until I see a kid on a bicycle with training wheels

when he sees me, he gets off and runs into his house
maybe he had to pee? he couldn’t be alarmed by me, could he?

eventually, I turn the corner and come across a “Black Lives Matter” sign
and two houses later a “Pro-Black and Pro-Police” sign

these make political sense in Western Mass but then I remember
Asian Americans aren’t part of the narrative

even if one is on your street

Floyd Cheung is Vice President for Inclusion and Equity and Professor of English Language and Literature and American Studies at Smith College.


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