Racists Do Not Deserve Forgiveness

Chris Lebron
Mar 13, 2019 - 5:00
Racists Do Not Deserve Forgiveness

Racists do not deserve forgiveness. This is a position that I came to embrace over time. I wish I had come to this place sooner, and I wish it would come to more marginalized people sooner. I think it’s an important path to getting free. I first began thinking seriously about forgiveness during a philosophy course I developed about the role of luck in our lives and the ways we are morally judged for our actions. I introduced students to an essay by the philosopher Pamela Hieronymi titled, “Articulating An Uncompromising Forgiveness.” She argues that...

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5 Replies to “Racists Do Not Deserve Forgiveness”

  1. Your article is very good and justified. We as black people have endured and continue to endure injustice and racism.
    However to forgive a person does not mean that we cannot and or will not take action. For example Liam Neelson, once truth was revealed then I will no longer watch any of his shows or support any of his movies. This will have an impact upon him and movie studios. Forgiveness is a choice which we should give, just as Christ forgives us. Now with forgiveness there is action and justice that we must seek on a daily basis to address injustices and racism faced with. This shows that we do not condone actions and are not sitting idly by without action. Anger is real and it is hard to forgive when I want to hate them as they do us. However what will be the difference between them and is?

    1. Very Good Article. I was waiting to hear it or read.
      However, I never felt like we as black should forgive.
      Religious/Spiritual people believe you won’t be at peace unless you forgive and that hatred will hold you back.
      I believe its levels to hate. But rage is definitely a separate emotion.

  2. I appreciate this piece. As a Christian, I immediately balked, but seeing the definition you offered of what forgiveness means (in this context), I fully agree. It’s not the same as how most Christians might define the concept, so I see now that there might be a variety of layers and that’s meaningful to me and deepens the practice of forgiveness in a powerful way. Thanks for providing further nuance in this.

  3. I agree with you, on us offering forgiveness too hastily. I think we should first decide if there is a path to forgiveness for this person and if so what does that looks like. For example, with Dylan Roof, there should be a full stop and no path for forgiveness because there is nothing he can do to repair, what he has broken. But when it comes to Ralph Northman or Liam Neeson, I believe a path to forgiveness is possible. A path to forgiveness should be an open discourse about what they have done, how it was wrong, what can be done to avoid it, and what they are going to do in the future. If the set principals are met I am fine with forgiveness. I feel like we need to avoid shutting down everyone that disagrees with us and instead listen to why. Martin in the wilderness realized we needed the white racist working class for economic advances and brought them into his movement. Life is full of compromises and you may need your enemy to move forward. A path to forgiveness should not be given but worked for by those seeking forgiveness. We have a lot to gain with an open dialogue.
    PS. Your article was very well written. Please contribute more.

  4. This article was freeing to read, so thank you. If I’m reading it correctly, Dogmatic connections aside, to forgive in this context, is to neglect critical attention and discourse towards white supremacy at large, and more importantly the murder that follows from young terrorists such as Roof. Also, the media portrayal of how the family best dealt with the incident along with their response, allows dominant culture to further oppress Black people, which is part of the passiveness and submission that white supremacy hopes for. It’s also to forget how our country’s past injustices are ever part of our present.
    I know there’s a difference between juvenile friends I’ve had to cut out of my life who have hurt me with racist comments, and then proclaimed racists who take action by killing others in the name of “Race.” When responding with forgiveness, American history was built from controlling and silencing Black people and their cultures, often through religious justification. This will not keep us from responding and taking action, artistically, educationally and so on. Lastly, I never thought about Michelle Obama’s statement in that way until reading this. I can see how pragmatism depletes rage and resistance. This makes me want to read bell hooks’ collection of essays “Killing Rage: Ending Racism” and compels me to engage with what she’s saying. Thank you again for the incredible journalism.

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