We Need More Mamie Till’s and Less White Forgiveness

In the case of Botham Jean a court judge not only gave hugs to a convicted murderer, Amber Guyger, she set a precedent and issued a license to kill our people within the justice system.

Some may see her act and the brother of Botham’s Jeans willingness to forgive as an act of mercy rooted in Christ centered love, but to use God in the name of oppression of our people is dangerous and irresponsible.

Not even God loved like that. If you are a believer you know he vehemently evoked accountability.

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being- Genesis 9:5

Black rage is real and it’s valuable in all it’s context. Stop Publicly Forgiving and Apologizing for Racism and White Supremacy.

It is a privilege to shoot and kill an unarmed man in his own home and receive only 10 years of incarceration.

A privilege only white people can receive.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I witnessed the shucking and jiving of Black people apologizing for the very people who got us in our collective predicament in the first place.

I don’t blame Botham Jean’s brother in his grief. It’s not for me to say how he should process the loss of such a life. As a human being I understand forgiveness to be an act of strength and he has been mourning since the day his brother’s life was taken in his living room. It isn’t my place to tell him what to do with his pain.

But that judge, it was her responsibility to stand for us and hold Amber Guyer accountable with a life sentence, not a hug.

Why do we have this fascination with relinquishing forgiveness and love on to our oppressors?

When the grieving survivors forgave a remorseless Dylann Roof, days after he walked into Mother Emanuel AME Church and murdered nine people, they were lauded.

It is a righteous act for sure, but when white people witness us so quick to reckon with our oppressors it gives the idea that our plight and our struggle to receive equality and due process is less dire.

When we get on the stand and in court rooms and issue compassion to evil it sends a message that it is ok to give those who harm us leniency rather than to face the consequences of their actions.

As Black people we constantly demonstrate morality with nothing to show for it in return.

The next time we have a barbecue Becky will not think twice to call the police on us simply because she is having a bad day.

When a Black man is charged with murder or takes a life regardless of the intent these families don’t issue mercy and neither do these judges.

Our people go to jail, most of the time for life.

There are no hugs. No leniency. No compassion. No mercy.

And when it comes to taking a life, too much of the time they put us in the grave.

More than half of the people on death row in this country are people of color. And the disparities that exist within sentencing based on the race of the defendant and victim are without question.

“In 82% of the stud­ies [reviewed], race of the vic­tim was found to influ­ence the like­li­hood of being charged with cap­i­tal mur­der or receiv­ing the death penal­ty, i.e., those who mur­dered whites were found more like­ly to be sen­tenced to death than those who mur­dered blacks.”– United States General Accounting Office, Death Penalty Sentencing

“All I Wanna Say is That They Don’t Really Care About Us”- Michael Jackson

Forgiveness without real accountability is not a celebratory act. It is a dangerous display of apologetic insanity.

As Black people we have a lot to lose and have gained nothing for falling to the knees of racist white people throughout our history.

Emmit Till’s mother Mamie, didn’t put her son’s bloated and mutilated body on display in that casket for the nation to see for no reason. She didn’t call for forgiveness. She called for justice and put her son’s murder on front street to save the lives of other Black boys and spark a change.

“It took something to stir people up and let them know we are either going to stand together, or we’re going to fall together,” Mamie Till said.

“In order to come to grips with this tragedy, she saw Emmett as being crucified on the cross of racial injustice,” says Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “And she felt that in order for his life not to be in vain, that she needed to use that moment to illuminate all of the dark corners of America and help push America toward what we now call the Civil Rights Movement.”

We need to be more like Mamie Till and less like accomplices to our own demise.

Mamie Till Mobley weeps at her son’s funeral on Sept. 6, 1955, in Chicago. Till, mother of Emmett Till, insisted that her son’s body be displayed in an open casket forcing the nation to see the brutality directed at blacks in the South at the time. AP PHOTO/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

We are constantly displaying integrity in the eyes of adversity but they don’t remember that when we are looking at our lives on the line. They have amnesia when they hand down sentences on our sisters and brothers. And they will issue a shot to our kill zones in a minute without thinking twice.

Let’s stop adding insult to our injuries and start standing up for ourselves until the circumstances of Black Americans collectively change.

We can’t afford to be complicit to our struggle any longer. We are dying in more ways than one to systemic racism.

Mamie Till later forgave but first she used the body of her son to demand change.

Forgiveness should come after the storm. Not before justice.

It is not our responsibility to be noble any longer. It’s theirs. We have a history of doing so and it has taken us on a downtrodden road to hell.

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