African-Americans dispel monolithic myth with polarized feelings of forgiveness towards Charleston shooting suspect.
Last Friday, preceding my weekly 6 o’clock hour news segment on 900am WURD entitled #TheWeekThatWas, two callers weighed in on the domestic terrorist attack carried out by 21 year-old Mr. Dylann Roof that ended the lives of nine innocent people who were gathered inside a historic Black church.
One individual who called into the Black talk radio station was adamant that Mr. Roof, who nearly two weeks ago in South Carolina walked into a Wednesday evening Bible Study at Emanuel A.M.E and, after sitting with the congregants for an hour, shot and killed parishioners while spewing racist hate speech, didn’t deserve forgiveness, mainly because he didn’t ask for it.
The other caller’s sentiment was the complete opposite, as they applauded the Christ-like attitude displayed by the family and friends of the nine individuals who are now deceased.
Later that Friday evening, I rode into Center City Philadelphia to view a critically-acclaimed, racially charged production called “Hands Up.” After the show, the actors, all Black men, sat on stage with one of the associate producers for a quick panel discussion.
Once the Q&As were opened to the audience, a Black woman, who I estimate to be in her mid-60s, made a reference to the Charleston shooting and the free flow of forgiveness that ensued.
“We should be sick and tired of apologizing for who we are and what’s happened to us. If I hear that on the news again, I’m going to throw up.”
A Black man, in the same age group as the woman who commented before him, first praised the six actors for venting their anger and outrage in manner that was very much raw and unapologetic, then mentioned that the biggest problem in the U.S. is that African-Americans are taught to “always forgive the sh*t that goes on.”
The gentlemen, a self-proclaimed “Old Testament scholar,” said he was outraged when he watched the news and saw the victims’ families say they forgive the “low life.”
“That’s inappropriate,” he exclaimed, “that’s not biblical. There’s nothing in the scriptures that says it’s alright for you to be beating on my cheek!”
Two days later, on Sunday evening, The Dr. Vibe Show produced a special panel focused on the Charleston shooting. One of the panelists, Dr. Alfonzo Porter of Denver, Colorado, expressed a great deal of pride in Black Christians in South Carolina and around the country who did what Jesus Christ would do in this situation: forgive.
An acquaintance of mine, a minister, wasn’t proud of Black Christians in America, as he agreed with the elders who were in the audience at “Hands Up.”
“I wouldn’t have forgiven Dylann Roof… I just wouldn’t, I’m being real,” he told me.
Mr. Roof’s attack sparked fear in many church-goers, as they questioned whether they could be next, and, more importantly, whether Black churches were still considered a safe space.
The arson fire at North Carolina church set one week after the Charleston shooting may provide an unfortunate answer.
Authorities have confirmed that the Wednesday morning fire at Briar Creek Baptist Church was intentional, though it hasn’t been labeled a hate crime.
And though the arsonist hasn’t yet been apprehended, the church’s Pastor, Mr. Mannix Kinsey, said the congregation has already forgiven the culprit.
In the face of racism and hate, to forgive or not to forgive is the question.
*Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening during the 6 o’clock hour to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™