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Why We Shouldn’t be So Quick to Forgive Racists

Black America should stop forgiving white racists

Historically, Black churches have nurtured the politics of forgiveness so that Black people can anticipate divine justice and liberation in the next life. This sentiment shaped non-violent protest during the civil rights movement. A belief that displays of morality rooted in forgiveness would force white America to leave behind its racist assumptions.

But Christian or non-Christian, Black people are not allowed to express unbridled grief or rage, even under the most horrific circumstances. For these Christians whose deep faith tradition holds forgiveness as a core principle, offering absolution to Roof is about relieving the burden of anger and pain of being victimized. In this regard, forgiveness functions as a kind of protest, a refusal to be reduced to victims. It sends the message to the killer that he may have hurt them, but they are the true victors because they have not been destroyed.

Yet, the almost reflective demand of forgiveness, especially for those dealing with death by racism, is about protecting Whiteness, and America as a whole. This is yet another burden for Black America.

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