Monthly Archives: June 2015

Charleston Passion Play

Fucking exhausting being so spiritually evolved. Guess black people just have that transcend shit and go back for more gene. Odd, I don’t hear Jews, the Abrahamic source of Christianity and Islam as well, parsing the necessity to be better people by forgiving the Nazis. Any Cambodians out there proclaiming their forgiveness of Pol Pot?

But here in America, I am expected to be non-violent in response to physical assault. Praised for an apparently endless capacity to absorb brutality up to and including murder with an evolved serenity that allows me to resume my immutable place in the social order while white people applaud and even genuinely admire my readiness to forgive a racist killer before he has even been arraigned. Wtf!

Black pain is a public spectacle. An on-going Passion play; the attack on the innocents at a swimming pool. The movie of a fleeing black man being shot dead with eight bullets to his back — a snuff film. And the Hollywood extravaganza — kill a bunch of them in their church and advertise it as a forgiveness-fest.

Is there some other group in this country that has to assume the possibility of death while, driving, walking, swimming, shopping… and then tap-dance for the edification of those who smugly insist they must have done something to bring on such peril? How does public forgiveness not embed the cycle?

I not only watched the film “Selma.” I remember Selma, and I will never be reconciled to one single black person supposedly “having” to die, expected to be willing to die, for what is our birthright.

The journey to forgiveness, willed at first perhaps, conferred, at last, by something like grace and sought through great suffering, is a private, sacred, personal road. I would never question its value. But I am weary of seeing what should be done in church, in spiritual searching and ceremony, offered as pearls before swine to a public eager to enshrine a scapegoat caste.

And for all that, a slaughtered clergyman and elected official lies in state in the South Carolina State House where a curtain is installed to shield mourners passing through to pay their respects from the sight of the Confederate flag still flying high just out the window.

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Yes, I know about the necessary vote to remove it. Basic decency would have led the governor to have it removed by fiat while his body was there, and later returned for the political wrangle that is building about its ultimate removal. But that’s not necessary. Those black people can bear any indignity. Aren’t we fortunate to have such a model the rest of American citizens can only aspire to.

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To Early To Forgive, If Ever…

Still wrestling with the forgiveness question.

Sitting here listening to the statement read by Tsarnaev at his sentencing this afternoon apologizing to the dozen or more victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing who chose to give victim impact statements. And to the lengthy responses of some of them to reporters outside the courthouse. (The court proceedings are neither televised nor broadcast.)

They expressed anger, disgust, dismissal, rejection of his contrition and apology. In their statements they told of their continuing struggles with the losses they suffered, the death of loved ones, or their own loss of limbs, hearing, partial sight, continuing trauma and more. Their lives will certainly never be the same.

While we in the general public have had two years to learn about many of those lives and their stories, I will admit that the immediate horror for me was hearing the description of the judge imposing the death penalty.

No one even brought up the concept of forgiveness. I am all the more uneasy about the Charleston professions of forgiveness to the disembodied video feed of the murderer less than 72 hours after the massacre. Yes, I understand how offering forgiveness might open a path to moving forward, but I’m thinking two things at the moment.

One is that, while people should certainly be open to expressing a religious sentiment wherever they wish, perhaps the spiritual task of letting go of the burden of hatred deserves a sacred space rather than a courthouse.

The other is that I just can’t get past the dynamic of black people forgiving racist murder, at all, but particularly before the bodies of their slaughtered parents and children have even been buried. A courtroom full of white people of all religious persuasions stood able to move through horror and begin to reclaim their lives without taking responsibility for the perp’s soul. Immediate forgiveness just does not feel to me to be the act of a free person. It feels like a theological construct that removes some of the agency of righteous rage that fights off helpless despair and depression. Perhaps it is a way of repudiating the devil and all his works, an act intended to reduce and marginalize the psychic hold of the killer on their minds. I get that. But I wonder, not standing in their shoes, if I could bear the bitterness, the ashes, of those words in my mouth.

The grace of forgiveness might or might not enter into the hearts of some of those in the Boston court today. Some might even choose to invite it. To assume they are called to that goal seems an added burden.

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