Instead Of Asking Us To Forgive You, Try Not Being Racist

The eighteenth-century English poet, Alexander Pope, said: “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” It seems Black America has been seeking divinity for centuries. From the earliest days I can remember, my grandmother and the ‘saints’ in the Pentecostal church I grew up in taught us the importance of forgiveness. One of the most emphasized verses in the venerated Lord’s prayer was, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). We were taught that it is our Christian duty to forgive people, regardless of how they have wronged us. After all, Jesus forgave those who murdered Him. Thus, we’re supposed to love and forgive the most vile, racist white person because “they know not what they do.” Life has taught me that they know exactly what they’re doing.

As a minister, I believe in biblical teachings regarding forgiveness, however, I also believe they have been misunderstood and taught in a manner that makes Black folks believe that unless we immediately forgive those who have invested in our terror, murder, and dehumanization, we risk becoming the same heartless, immoral creatures they are. There is a need to comprehend and rationalize trauma before we can jump knee deep into forgiveness, which psychologists say is a five-step process. One important step in that process, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Roya R. Rad, is to “let the feeling be felt.” In other words, feelings attached to the damaging behavior must be brought to the surface and processed. This includes dealing with anger, grief, anxiety, frustration, and trauma. Remember, this is only step two.

Yet, somehow, Black people are expected to immediately forgive violence done to them by the state, government, or individual white people. America disallows the full humanity and emotions of Black people and demands that our suffering be done phlegmatically so the expression of our despair does neither offends the sensibilities of white folks nor sparks their guilt or fragility. Our instantaneous forgiveness of racial violence perpetrated against us is white America’s unearned expectation. To do anything less would be callous and victimizing to our oppressors. Read more…


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In wake of Trayvon Martin Case, We Must Be Better Practitioners of Love and Justice

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Today, many of our hearts are still raw from the tragic verdict that set a killer free. An unarmed child only two years out of puberty: a son, a friend, a nephew and a brother by the name of Trayvon Benjamin Martin was murdered for being young, hooded and black. Our minds are not able to conceive the weight of grief that is upon the shoulders of the Martin family. However, despite the unbearable grief and justifiable anger, which they may feel, Trayvon’s family members have carried themselves with the utmost dignity throughout this entire ordeal. Parents should never outlive their children. They should never have to endure the pain deposited by the doubly cruel specter of perpetuity. Never in their darkest musings did Trayvon’s parents dream that their son would be gunned down for carrying a lethal bag of candy.Today we are shocked, dazed and confused by the implausible verdict of the jury, the poor performance of the prosecutor and the misdirection tactics of the defense. 

The unfortunate reality is that Trayvon was murdered twice. Once on that fateful night in February 2012, and then again across the airwaves as this young man was assassinated by media outlets, pundits, bloggers and right-wing activists seeking to ignite the latent fires of America’s racialized imagination and past. The trial was about murder, gun violence and Stand Your Ground, however, as much as the privileged want to deny it, it was also about race. What we witnessed were the results of a black boy encountering a person whose mind was infected with racial sensibilities, which defined a black child walking in his neighborhood as a threat, a thug, a deviant and a miscreant who was up to no good. Read more…


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