It’s been less than 48 hours since the terrorist attack in South Carolina by the now arrested perpetrator known as Dylann Roof and the victims have already proclaimed their forgiveness and mercy on his eternal soul as released in their public statement here.
Their response exemplifies humanity at it’s best and one can only hope that we could all display such depth of character at a time when we would be completely justified to do otherwise- and often do.
It is said that forgiveness is not so much for the offender as it is for the offended because hate and bitterness will eat you alive, rob you of your life as if it was taken like those who were slain.
That said, while I understand the necessity of forgiveness for the aggrieved I also ask what other choice did the victims families have but to come out and state their unequivocal forgiveness for Dylan Roof less than 48 hours after he cut short the lives of their loved ones in a moment of planned and calculated violence?
In a racist society, forgiveness and humility are the de facto “acceptable” and EXPECTED responses for Black people. Anything less is ironically unforgivable even when emotions like anger and retaliatory violence may be completely justified although not a morally acceptable response as it pertains to the latter.
These remain emotions and responses that are the sole preserve for White people and their grievances that when slighted as in the case of 9/11 retaliatory violence and anger are both justified and seen as the “American” thing to do with both events culminating in the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan with the response to the murder of Osama Bin Laden replicating the revelry of a championship winning sports final. Go Team America.
When it comes to White pain, emotions and responses like forgiveness or humility is seen as traitorous and un-American with the emotion of anger and retaliatory violence being both justified and venerated, finding themselves to be consistent with a long history of white mob violence against black bodies for perceived slights to whiteness for numerous violations of laws and codes enshrined in “law” or as de facto.
Even when “unjustified” as in the case of Dylann Roof, his anger and violence is pathologised and enabled as evidence of some mental illness or symptomatic of some unconnected trauma that caused a “tragedy” that undermines his complicity in his actions as well as White society’s and diabolically seeks to garner as much sympathy for him as it does for the victims-sickeningly, maybe even more so. “He was a nice boy who came from a good home, he just took a wrong turn”… enter ANY stated reason here:
Meanwhile, Black emotions are to be kept in check, “policed” up in the same manner as Black bodies are in the hyper-surveillance of the nation’s Stop and Frisk laws. I recall the raw emotions of Mike Brown’s father Louis Head, who in the hours after the grand jury announcement that his son’s murderer, Darren Wilson, was found to be innocent of no actions worthy of going to trial, turned to the crowd of demonstrators who had rallied in support and in his overwhelming grief and anger stated words that many of us would find ourselves stating after having our child murdered and hearing the news that his killer would not even go to trial. “Burn this bitch down” of which in the fall out the police investigated whether they could charge HIM for instigating a riot.
The Brown’s family attorney, Benjamin Crump, having to defend his client’s actions against a public backlash appealed for people to not condemn Louis Head for being human stating:
“God forbid your child was killed … and then they get that devastating announcement in the manner it was announced and somebody put a camera in your face. What would be your immediate reaction?”
As if such things need to be justified but they do when you’re black and your humanity is already in question or unrecognised.
These are but a few examples of the racist, dehumanising environment and conditions that Black people are expected to endure in the “United States of Segregation Emotions” where to be black and angry is to cross the invisible color line of human emotions that is the sole preserve of White AmeriKKKa where to not forgive them for their transgressions, to be ANGRY or to retaliate is simply…… unforgivable.
Those emotions and actions are denied to us in the same manner as our humanity which they use as justification to murder us of which we will of course- forgive them.