Ashland’s Mayor Elect Speaks Out on the Murder of Aidan Ellison

Mayor Elect Julie Akins on Next Door 11/28 —

The loss of Aidan, how we grieve. I have been asked by members of the Ashland community as Mayor Elect to release a statement regarding the death of 19 year old Aidan Ellison.

I have been reticent to do so as this is the time for the Black community to be given voice. And as this is the time for Aidan’s friends and family to offer their perspective and their memories about a young man who is gone and taken with him all of his potential, hopes, dreams and good work. And this is where, as a mother and grandmother, I see in Aidan’s death the incredible loss of a future once assumed. 

While I could never presume to speak for Aidan, his family or community, I can speak as a member of the white bodied community in saying it is past time we take stock of systemic racism which continues to cause the death of our brothers and sisters of color. 

It’s not a coincidence that a white man, according to police, chose to take the life of a young black man for the offense of playing his music. This is at the root of racism. This is how people and cultures are erased through deeply ingrained violence.

Aidan by all accounts was merely being, living his life. Now his life is gone. And with it comes yet another reminder of how deadly white privilege is. And this is how we really start: breaking down white supremacy is an everyday job. It’s in hiring practices in the halls of power where people of color must be invited to participate, it’s in our policing where the balance of power has long been uneven toward Black, Indigenous People of Color.

Racism is in the justice system and in the narratives of media and everyday people who assume this young man must have made an error or his assailant must have some justification. There is no other way of speaking about this but bluntly: white supremacy and racism is embedded in language, culture, and the zeitgeist of the United States and every community therein. Until we face this reality, apologize for it and make amends– these acts of violence will continue to bind us to our historic and continued oppression. 

Racism is a fact of white privilege. I call on our community to consider our role in continuing this privilege. Let’s not only come together when another beautiful life has been taken. Let’s do the work, the hard work, the soul searching work every day. 

If Ashland truly wants to remember Aidan Ellison, that’s how we could do it. We could choose to end racism.  If we start with ourselves and work from there, it is possible.  I end with this quote: “It becomes more and more difficult to avoid the idea of black men as subjects of not just racial profiling but of an insidious form of racial obliteration sanctioned by silence.” –Aberjhani, Author, Columnist