Forgiving white people for their savagery against us is a deep-rooted and complex act. During enslavement, white people incorrectly used scriptures from the Bible to justify white hatred and to teach us the virtues of forgiveness. And many of us have used forgiveness historically to avoid becoming monsters like those who hurt us.
Recently, some high-profile examples have us wondering if it’s the right move.
In 2015, Dylann Roof massacred Black people during a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina after participating in the service. At his sentencing, one of the survivors of the terrorist attack publicly forgave Roof.
In 2015, an unarmed Walter Scott was shot down by an overzealous white cop as he ran, and then the cop lied about what happened. Still, when all was said and done, his brother publicly acknowledged the forgiveness in his heart.
Did they make the right decision? We can’t judge anyone’s choice to forgive – but we know this. Forgiveness does not erase the oppression and violence white people have used to terrorize us. Whether we forgive or not, demanding accountability is always a good decision.