A Brief Note on “Forgiveness”

To all of the (mostly white) people, particularly in the American media who are talking incessantly about the virtue of forgiveness right now, consider this. Forgiveness is a personal act that is initiated by the one(s) wronged. It requires no action by the culpable.

Justice is a communal virtue that requires self-examination and action on behalf of the whole community. It requires a full consideration of wrong-doing. It requires an assessment of the adequate punishment or restitution. It requires this assessment be carried out faithfully.

What does it say about you, that this is your reaction to an act of heinous terrorism perpetrated on your neighbours? What does it say about you that when Bin Laden finally met his deserved end you jubilantly danced in the street, but for centuries of state-perpetrated, sanctioned and enabled terrorism in your own backyard you counsel forgiveness, “moving on” and “not dwelling on the past”?

Why are you so infatuated with the MLK of your imagination who is an avatar for rosy forgiveness, instead of the MLK of history who was for right relationship and justice?

Why do you deploy a sanitized Jesus to ask us to turn the other cheek, but neglect to mention the man whose declaration that the captives and oppressed will be set free shook empire to its foundations?

I keep hearing the same things from establishment white folks across the political spectrum. Where is the hope? What about progress? Shouldn’t we talk about forgiveness?

Let me be crystal clear: You have been watching black folks get crucified for so long, you have mistaken us for Jesus. We are not here to save you. We are not here to provide you with hope. We are not here to redeem you.

You, in concert with all of us, are responsible for building just communities and a just nation. You alone are responsible for the state of your heart. These two things are inextricably bound together. And from where I’m sitting the prognosis is looking pretty fucking bleak across the board.

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