When I tell people that love does not end with death, I often get a skeptical look. But when I ask if they still love their mom; I see the nod of understanding.
Most of us love our moms in perpetuity. Because they loved us so deeply. From the moment we were born, in our most vulnerable state, they cared for our needs, fixed our boo-boos, gave us warm embraces, and loved us no matter what. They protected us from onslaughts, perceived or real.
It is a mutual bond, unbreakable and eternal. And when Wanda Cooper Jones’s son was killed that bond remained unbroken.
When the McMichaels murdered her son, Ahmaud Arbery, they immediately sought protection through the “good old boy’s network” (which also includes a few women). This network has been in existence since slavery first tainted our soil. It is a group of people who determines which race, gender, religion, or nationality should be protected. When the McMichael’s called, the network functioned as it always has, covering up wrongdoing by a member of the group.
And things would have continued the way they have for centuries, but for the eternal bond between mother and son.
Ms. Cooper Jones was quickly dismissed by this group, after all what could a poor, black woman accomplish? But they forgot about that bond.
And when she created waves; they made their fatal mistake. Believing that the world would see the threat through their eyes, they posted the video that had been hidden by the “good old boy’s network.” And they discovered that the world saw an innocent, unarmed black man hunted down by heavily armed men in pickups with a confederate flag vanity plate. The world saw a situation that we believed was in the dark recesses of the past.
I watched the full video for the first time this weekend and I cried with each shot that pierced the silence. I cried seeing his desperate, unsuccessful attempt to save his life. I felt his fear while they pursued him, deciding that they were judge, jury, and executioner. His crime? Walking through an empty house under construction and jogging in a white neighborhood.
The world erupted and both white and black townspeople demanded justice.
The McMichaels didn’t realize that the “old boy network” had shrunk. They may not have expected a predominantly white jury to convict them.
But a diminished “old boy’s network” was no match for the ferocity of a mother’s love.
And because of that, the world will be a better place. The Georgia legislature sharply limited the law that empowered the McMichael’s to believe that they could chase down and kill an unarmed black man. I, and most white people, no longer believe that black men and women are safe.
And while the world will be better, when the media goes away and our attention moves to another situation, there will still be a loving mother forever grieving the loss of her son.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.