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“I am a Black man who jogs” was written by Augustus Turner.

Mr. Turner retains all copyright to the image and content; it is republished here with his permission. You can – and SHOULD – read his essays on his website “The Venerable Voice.”

This post was originally published on the website of the law firm of Attig | Curran | Steel, PLLC, and is merely syndicated on the Veterans Law Blog®.

Augustus Turner is a husband, a father, a soldier, and an attorney.

He currently serves as Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army.

Mr. Turner has worked as a Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Dept of Justice. He received his Juris Doctorate (JD) in Law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and a Master of Laws (LL. M.) at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School.

The Veterans Law Blog® expresses our deep gratitude to our colleague and “brother-in-arms” for giving us permission to publish his writing. As a small gesture of our gratitude, the Veterans Law Blog® has made a donation of $250 in honor of Augustus Turner to the United Negro College Fund.

Please join the Veterans Law Blog® in condemning the systematic oppression of Black people. It is critical that veterans purge racists and White Supremacists from our ranks. To do that, we must all stand up, acknowledge out loud that Black Lives Matter, and take visible action that manifests that truth.

If you are a Black veteran and would like to share your story for consideration for publication on Attig | Curran | Steel’s blog “Elevating Voices” or the Veterans Law Blog® newest segment “The Real Veteran”, please email Chris Attig.

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I am a black man who jogs.

When I jog, I always do so alone. I am also a Soldier, and a large one at that (about 6’2 240 lbs). This means every few years, I have to move to a completely new suburb, and jog, alone. This means that I, like every Soldier, is used to jogging alone, in new places, where people may not recognize, know, or be familiar with me. I am used to it. My wife is not.

For nearly ten years, my wife cautioned me about how I appear when I jog alone. She will not even let me out of the house unless I wear enough colorful and “innocent” clothing so as not to appear suspicious or threatening when I jog. While she has never said it directly, I know that every time I step out the door, she is afraid my appearance alone could get me killed.

Sometimes, in the back of my head, I foolishly think to myself:

I am just a black man who jogs!

I am a good person! Why would somebody shoot me just because I am black and unfamiliar? I am a former EMT. I volunteered in an emergency room for over a year to get my way into college. I have been a licensed attorney and active duty Army Officer for nine years. I have represented and helped over 60 sexual assault victims. I have run a legal aid clinic recognized as one of the best in the Army. I have worked with federal agents to put countless criminals behind bars and break up complex criminal enterprises. I helped justify the destruction of hundreds of enemy targets in Iraq. I have cleared the names of wrongfully convicted criminals. Who would want to hurt me?

Well, none of that matters because…

I am still a black man who jogs.

If I frighten the wrong white person, or match the description of a threatening person…

I become no different from Ahumaud Arbery.

None of the good I have done in my life will stop a white vigilante mob from chasing me in their trucks, cocking their firearms as they approach me jogging, gunning me down, recording it, and apparently getting away with it.

Although I am a black man who jogs, please… treat me like a white man who jogs.

— Augustus Turner

9 Comments

  1. L. Mann

    I am a white, female, 20 yr Navy veteran who lives alone. You are welcome to jog by my house anytime without fear. Thanks for your service and practice of justice. We are not all alike either 😉

    Reply
  2. Monte Phillips

    I hear you brother. Hopefully things will change in this country so that The color of one’s skin no longer matters.

    Love you and thank you for your service to the nation.

    Reply
  3. Matthew Adams

    I never knew until recently that this kind of perverse nonsense was still an issue. It makes me sad to think that, at age 58, I’m hearing about things I thought were gone before I was born. Thank you Mr. Turner.

    Reply
  4. Octavio Mendivil

    Thank you Mr. Attig for standing up and expressing your values for your fellow human being in what is today most prevalent in our society….racism and basic human rights. It seems that the people that have never served our country in the military or in any capacity are the biggest and loudest racist there are being led by this President. I am a Mexican born man who served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and proud of it, but it sure makes me sick to see how our country has progressed in our thinking about the issues we face today. Thank you for letting us know where you stand.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    Stay strong, Augustus. You are an American hero. Thank you for your service.

    Reply
    • James H Lincoln Sr

      I love this. I recall my days station at Osan AB, Korea in the 6314th Supply Squadron Orderly Room. It was two of us assigned under a white Staff Sergeant myself who was black and another person who was white and was a Sgt, myself was a A1C but I knew the workings of the 6314th Supply Squadron inside and out and the Sgt dependent on me because of my knowledge and experience. When it came time to write his and my Airmen Performance Report the SSgt asked both of us who we thought should get the highest report. We both came to the conclusion that I should and told the SSgt this. But when it came time to write the reports the SSgt gave the Sgt who was white a higher report my first time in my adult life experiencing “systemic racism” because APRs in the USAF determine your promotion.

      Reply
  6. Lynda Williams

    Love it, that reminds me of a speech I wrote while working at a Prison. You have to put yourself in the place of another human being and realize we aren’t all treated the same.

    Outstanding Mr. Turner.

    Reply
    • Jeff Smith

      It’s sad to think he would be looked at as a threat, he has the rights of anyone to jog anywhere at any time, I wish this country could look at another person as not different but just one of Gods children, wake up America, we are all one, racism has no place in this great country, God Bless

      Reply
  7. S. Sawyer, Esq.

    Thank you for sharing this post, Attorney Attig, and acknowledging that our society sees a difference between you and Attorney Turner because of the color of his skin. It shouldn’t but it does and your recognition of that fact speaks volumes to your character and ethics. As an attorney and the wife of a black active duty officer, the stand you’re taking is appreciated and to be commended.

    Reply

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