Forgiveness is Not for the Forgiven, but for the Forgiver

I really liked Mallory Ortberg and Carvell Wallace’s commentary “You’re Not Off The Hook: The White Myth of Black Forgiveness.”

I really appreciated someone speaking about this right now. As we read about the ways in which families of the Charleston massacre victims are forgiving the white supremacist murderer who took their loved ones’ lives, it seems to me that there is some confusion of forgiveness with absolution. In this humorous interview, the differences between those concepts are spelled out and the pernicious re-interpretation of the concept of forgiveness as absolution are called out. Forgiveness is not absolution. Forgiveness doesn’t make this whole thing nice. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we stop fighting with all our might to stop this from ever happening again. Forgiveness is not for the forgiven, but for the forgiver.

Forgiveness is for the soul of the person doing the forgiving. It is not an absolution of the person who has done you wrong, by, for example, massacring people you love. Forgiveness is an act that allows a person to free their heart from some degree of rancor towards the one that did them harm so that they can set about focusing on the grief and the healing that is necessary and do whatever work they may want to do to make sure that this never happens again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean, ‘That’s okay. You can even do it again. I don’t mind.’ It more means, ‘I’m going to choose not to hate you, because I have to carry my hating you around inside myself and my hating you hurts me more than it hurts you and I don’t want to have to hurt like that inside myself while I’m dealing with the carnage you have created.’

As they say here, we must “forgive and fight at the same time.”

For the Love of Black People, Stop Posting Confederate Flags on Articles Appealing to Remove Confederate Flags From Public Places

So, now, my social media feeds are full of confederate flags. This is happening ostensibly because people are trying to get other people to see that the confederate flag is a problem and shouldn’t be flying about where people like me might be terrorized by it and where it might incite other people to racial violence.

I am a Black person. I do not live in a state that was part of the confederacy. Suddenly, in the privacy of my own home, I am surrounded by confederate flags. I imagine it might be something akin to a Jewish person suddenly having a newsfeed full of swastikas (for days).

This is a problem.

For the love of black people, stop posting confederate flags on articles appealing to remove confederate flags from public places.

I Feel Stronger For Offering What Resistance I Can

I am feeling fierce today.

Yesterday, I gathered with people of color at EBMC to mourn and grieve and share about the impact of the various forms of oppression that affect our various peoples. It was healing to be able to be in community about what for many of us is often a very private despair.

Then, I went home and found what I hope were creative and constructive ways to channel my rage and my anguish. I wrote and I read and I shared and I discussed and I wrote, some more, my heart pounding in my chest. I have been so impressed by the (especially Black) writers and journalists who are writing about the day after day racial violence that is taking place in this country, while, no doubt, managing their own anger, grief, pain, frustration, and fear. I wanted to join them in solidarity and add my voice to the chorus.

I didn’t account for how empowering it is just to speak my truth about what is so often unspoken, to name what is too often omitted, to resist silence and complicity. Whether or not anything ever changes because people listen to what I say or read what I write – *I* change because I speak it. I change because I write it. I feel stronger for offering what resistance I can. I allow the rage to flow out of me as offerings of truth and resistance. It leaves in its place strength, determination, and vitality.

I go forth into my life, turning my attention to enjoying and celebrating my glorious black life, in honor of all of those who have lost their own black lives or who have lost the glory of their own black lives due to imprisonment. I know that tomorrow, it could be me in the headlines. It could be me killed by the police or by a white supremacist vigilante. This is not happening somewhere else. I know that tomorrow, it could be me.

Best to enjoy this life while I can.

#TomorrowItCouldBeMe #BlackLivesMatter #BlackSpring

Dear White People . . . Stop Killing Black People.

Dear White People,

Stop killing Black People.

If you aren’t, personally, killing Black People, stop your friends, relatives, and colleagues (ahem, police officers) from killing Black People.

If your friends, relatives, and colleagues aren’t killing Black People, stop your elected leaders from looking away while their constituents are killing Black people.

Stop police chiefs from looking away while their officers are killing Black people.

Stop your friends, relatives, and colleagues (especially the ones you don’t talk to, because you don’t agree with their politics and their views on things) from looking away while White people are killing Black people in the streets, in their homes, in their vehicles, in their stores, in their playgrounds, in their schools, in their places of work, in their cribs, in their sleep, and in their places of worship.

Stop looking away.

Stop making excuses.

Stop blaming victims.

Stop finding reasons why any of them deserved it.

Stop finding reasons why the killer did it (overwork, mental health issues, stress, etc.)

Stop failing to hold each killer accountable.

Stop keeping silent.

Stop allowing fear about doing or saying the wrong thing stop you from doing or saying anything.

Stop allowing shame and guilt and fear to silence you.

Stop telling Black people how you’re not racist.

Stop allowing this to be someone else’s problem.

There is a racism problem in the White community. Y’all need to work on that. Especially those of you who believe you’re not racist. Get your people in order.

Now, please.

Rogue Negro

P.S. The above also applies to Brown people, Muslims, and Trans people (with appropriate adjustments for xenophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia in place of and/or in addition to racism).

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎BlackSpring‬ ‪#‎CharlestonShooting‬‪#‎TomorrowItCouldBeMe‬