Ahmaud Arbery was only 25 years old when he was shot and killed for jogging in a suburban white neighborhood In Georgia. Three white men were convicted in the murder of the unarmed Black man. While many breathed a sigh of relief after last year’s verdicts – and the life sentences recently given to the culprits – Arbery’s death was yet another example of the racial divide plaguing America. It also exposed the myths of Southern hospitality.

Barbara Combs, a sociology professor at Clark Atlanta University who studies Southern culture, writes here about those myths. All too often, she argues, the veneer of charm and politeness has deadly consequences for Blacks and other ethnic groups. As Judge Timothy Walmsley said before the sentencing of the three white men, Arbery’s death “should force us to consider expanding our definition of what a neighbor may be and how we treat them. I argue that maybe a neighbor is more than the people who just own property around your house.”

Also today:

Howard Manly

Race + Equity Editor

‘Southern hospitality’ doesn’t always apply to Black people, as revealed in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Barbara Harris Combs, Clark Atlanta University

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery exemplifies the racial, often violent barriers still remaining in the US. The 25-year-old Black man was out for a jog. But three white men thought he was a criminal.

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