All three defendants were found guilty of murder in the Ahmaud Arbery trial and face a sentence of up to life in prison. Many who saw the video and who followed the evidence in the trial might say that this was the only rational and equitable verdict. But veteran civil rights observers and those familiar with the history of racially charged cases, especially in the Deep South, know that no case of white people killing a Black person is a “slam dunk.”
The claim of justifiable killing in the name of self-defense has been stretched to the breaking point in this country recently. Just a few days ago, Kyle Rittenhouse used the self-defense plea to successfully win an acquittal. This time, fortunately, the video evidence and the absence of any aggression on the part of Mr. Arbery were undeniable.
In this case it seems quite apparent that justice was served. But let us not forget that racial bias is still endemic in U.S. society and deeply ingrained in our judicial system as well. Yet, every case like this one helps to chip away at that bias. A country and a justice system free of racial bias is still a dream, but this case represents movement in the morally right direction.
Ken Derow Swarthmore, Pa.
To the Editor:
As a New Yorker who grew up in the 1970s just outside one of the cradles of the civil rights movement, Birmingham, Ala., I was overcome with emotion when all three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial were found guilty.
I’ll admit, when the judge first seated a Glynn County, Ga., jury made up of 11 whites and one Black person, I felt a sense of deep trepidation and worry that the three men just might get off. My negative assumptions were as offensive as they were wrong, and for that, I’m very thankful.
They stole our Thanksgiving. Our taxes helped develop the Covid vaccine, and we are thankful for that. Our taxes made free, universal vaccinations possible, and we are thankful for that, too. Now we are paying for the unvaccinated, who are being hospitalized in ever increasing numbers.
We just learned that my son, who is fully vaccinated, recently attended a business event and tested positive for Covid. He cannot join us for Thanksgiving.
As immigrants, our family celebrates Thanksgiving as a quintessential American rite of passage. In the 1980s, as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I remember celebrating this uniquely American holiday at the home of a professor who invited foreign students to share turkey, pumpkin pie, football and the promise of America. Later, my kids grew up giving thanks with our neighbors who have invited us to their home for more than two decades. This year, our table will be one place short.
I feel cheated, but we will not forget to give thanks to the health professionals who have given tirelessly despite the selfishness of those who refuse to protect themselves and others so we can all join our families at the table.
Rather than granting clemency to fowl, the executive branch should be reviewing the more than 15,000 pending petitions seeking justice for those wrongfully convicted and shorter sentences for drug offenders.
The annual ritual is inappropriate in this era when too many prisoners are spending Thanksgiving behind bars.
Jon Laramore Indianapolis The writer was legal counsel to two governors of Indiana and worked on clemency issues.
This is all the more essential as every day we hear of more deaths of people from Covid, violence and drug overdoses in addition to other illnesses, accidents and suicides.
We believe that children develop greater connection to and trust in their caregivers when conversations about death, illness and losses are based in honesty and empathy. It is only by facing hard truths that we learn how to handle them; faced together they become sources of growth along with the pain.
Children develop resilience and belief in themselves as they experience upsetting events in ongoing caring and supportive dialogue. They learn that they can recognize and manage hard emotions as their caregivers model expressing our natural grief reactions.
When they know they will receive the truth in a kind way, children come to caregivers more with their difficult feelings. They become teenagers and young adults who can talk with adults and know their emotions and how to handle them as they manage increasing autonomy and independent decision-making.
Death is a part of life; we must all face it in our loved ones and ourselves at some point along the journey. It behooves caregivers to not deny what each of us inevitably has to come to terms with and to equip children to understand themselves as they do so.
Elena Lister Michael Schwartzman New York Dr. Lister is a psychiatrist, and Dr. Schwartzman is a psychologist. They are the authors, with Lindsey Tate, of the forthcoming book “Giving Hope: Conversations With Children About Illness, Death and Loss.”