Black Forgiveness, the Hypocrisy of White America, and Atonement

Black Forgiveness, the Hypocrisy of White America, and Atonement July 9, 2015
Vigil for the Charleston 9 (Photo: Flickr, The All Night Images, Creative Commons license, some changes made
Vigil for the Charleston 9 (Photo: Flickr, The All Night Images, Creative Commons license, some changes made

“I will never talk to her ever again. I will never hold her ever again. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you. I forgive you.”

Those words of accountability and forgiveness were spoken to Dylann Roof at his bond hearing by the daughter of one of his victims.

How are we to understand such radical forgiveness?

The spirit of forgiveness and accountability was on full display during the bond hearing by the family members of the victims. Many have seen that forgiveness as shallow, even calling it a “parade of forgiveness [that] is disconcerting to say the least.”

Forgiveness isn’t disconcerting. What is disconcerting is a hypocritical response from white America.

Many white Americans interpret black forgiveness as absolution for the racist attitudes that led to the attack. We distort that forgiveness in a way that doesn’t hold us accountable for changing the racist political, economic, and educational structures that infect our country.

If white America celebrates the forgiveness that was on display in Charleston but refuses to be transformed by it, then we are hypocrites. If that forgiveness doesn’t break our hearts to make them grow bigger, if that forgiveness doesn’t become a model for white America to follow, if that forgiveness doesn’t make us work for racial justice and make us more gracious and forgiving in our lives, then we are just a bunch of hypocrites.

When we celebrate black forgiveness but refuse to be accountable to that very forgiveness then we are doing nothing more than creating an aura of deniability. By celebrating black forgiveness of those persecutors like Dylann Roof, we can safely deny that we participate in and benefit from racist structures that persecute black people. In other words, we can so twist the blessed act of forgiveness that we manipulate it to deny that we are persecutors, too.

In her Washington Post article, Stacey Patton speaks to the hypocrisy of white America. We celebrate and even demand black forgiveness in the face of violence, but we do not offer our own forgiveness to violence committed against us. She connects it to 9/11, “After 9/11 there was no talk about forgiving al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. America declared war, sought blood and revenge, and rushed protective measures into place to prevent future attacks … As the Atlantic Monthly, writer Ta-Nehisi Coats noted on Twitter: “Can’t remember any campaign to ‘love’ and ‘forgive’ in the wake of ISIS beheading.”

Patton and Coats are absolutely right when they point to the hypocrisy of white America when it comes to forgiveness. Black people aren’t allowed to show rage, to be “an angry black man.” But white rage in the face of violence is thought to be a perfectly normal response.

What’s true about forgiveness on a personal level is true about forgiveness on a national level. We are the “angry white man” who too often responds to violence with mimetic violence of our own. The “angry black man” stereotype is a projection of our own white anger and hatred.

Atoning for White Racism

In the Christian tradition, Atonement happened on the cross when Jesus offered forgiveness to those who killed and persecuted him. The Atonement was about changing hearts, but it wasn’t God’s heart that was changed. Jesus didn’t appease a wrathful god; he appeased a wrathful humanity. But he didn’t just appease a wrathful humanity, he transformed a wrathful humanity into a more loving humanity. The Atonement doesn’t absolve us from the harm that we’ve cause. Unless we are hypocrites, it leads us to take responsibility for changing our lives so that we work for justice, healing, and love.

The consequences of that Atonement are best seen in the story of the conversion of St. Paul. Before his conversion, Paul was a persecutor of the early Christian community. Like all persecutors, he was blind to his victims. He thought he was keeping his way of life safe from his enemies. But on the road to Damascus, the resurrected Jesus came to him and said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul was then blinded by scales that covered his eyes, which were symbolic as a sign to his blind persecution.

Saul would soon repent of his violent persecution and the scales that blinded him fell from his eyes. His name would change from Saul to Paul as he took on a new identity. Instead of persecuting the early Christian community, and Jesus who identifies with all victims of persecution, Paul became one of them. And he worked within that community for justice so that all people – Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free – were included into a community of love and acceptance.

White America needs to have our Saul moment – and I pray that in the wake of the terrorism in Charleston that we are having it. The scales need to fall from our eyes so that we can clearly see the harm we have caused through the racist structures that permeate the United States. Like Paul, we need to hear those words from Jesus, “Why are you persecuting me?” because when we continue to uphold racist structures in America we are persecuting black people and we continue to persecute Jesus who identifies with them.

The blessed forgiveness that was on display in Charleston is the same blessed forgiveness that was on display on the cross. If white America doesn’t allow that forgiveness to hold us accountable to the transformation of our lives and the racist structures of the United States, then we are mere hypocrites who don’t truly believe in the Gospel.

May the scales fall from the eyes of white Americans. For we are blind persecutors, forgiven, and in need of transformation.

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  • Ella Mosby

    I fully understand where you are coming from, Mr. Ericksen with this article, but the one fallacy I see is that (like so many others) you have included the entire White race of people as those in need of transformation, which is not the case. Not all Whites are found in the category of “blind persecutors, forgiven and in need of transformation”. I know this because some of my closest friends are White.

    • Thank you Ella. I’m glad you have close white friends. My hope is that many more white people will break free from the racism that infects the nation.

      Grace and peace,
      Adam

      • jrb16915

        Are we allowed to hope that all the non-white people break free from their racism as well?

  • Obscurely

    As an ordained minister practicing in a small Southern town, I want to ask in a larger context if the forgiveness offered by the families of the Holy Martyrs of Charleston isn’t their way of proclaiming to a watching world that there are no black Christians, but only disciples of the Risen Lord?

    • I’m not sure. You may be right, but the idea that there are no black Christians reminds me of when people say they don’t see color. But the truth is that in America we do see color and we use it as a marker to scapegoat people. To say I don’t see color is to be in denial of racism.

      On the other hand, scapegoat identity markers are meant to fade away as we love one another as God has loved us. So, Paul’s statement that there is no longer Jew or Greek, male and female, slave or free, is true in the sense that those distinctions can no longer be used as a way to identify “us” against “them.” But, those distinctions still existed in Paul’s day, and we have distinctions in ours. The point is that those distinctions aren’t to be used to scapegoat, but rather to love. So, it moves from a relationship of “us” against “them” toward a relationship of “us” with “them,” which has profound implications for race in America and becoming disciples of the Risen Lord.

      Thanks for the question!

      Grace and peace,
      Adam

      • Obscurely

        You’ve certainly covered the waterfront, I’d say — but don’t you have to choose a side in order to ACT in the world?

        • Maybe. It’s a great question. The danger is that picking sides often gets us stuck in a rivalry that is against others, which stifles our imaginations for how we can be for the good. Identifying against others can hugely distract us from the good. At least, that’s my personal experience!

          Which is to say, we do need to act in the world. And I think the best way to act is to act not so much in opposition to others (although there are times when that’s probably needed) but to imagine ways we can act together for the good. Part of the good is a refusal to scapegoat the other and see how their desires might just be for a good goal.

          • Obscurely

            My hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

            (PS, is Rene Girard an influence on you?)

          • Oh I love Bonhoeffer! That is such a great quote. He struggled with the moral ambiguities honestly. There’s a book called “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Spoke in the Wheel” by Renate Wind. Have you read it? It’s the only book where I’ve found this, but she claims that before he decided to join the plot to kill Hitler, he renounced his membership in the church. That’s how seriously he took his faith/commitment to nonviolence. He’s also an important example as to how nonviolence is not inaction or passive but engagement with the world.

            Girard is our main influence on this blog and over at the Raven Foundation.

          • Obscurely

            I haven’t seen Wind’s book but will check it out soon! … I studied Girard extensively at seminary with Anthony Bartlett … Girard’s hermeneutic has had a BIG influence on my preaching and teaching of the Gospel …

  • AnneG

    I read your blog post and your bio.
    Today’s catechesis focuses on Saint Paul’s conversion. In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke recounts for us the dramatic episode on the road to Damascus which transformed Paul from a fierce persecutor of the Church into a zealous evangelizer. In his own letters, Paul describes his experience not so much in terms of a conversion, but as a call to apostleship and a commission to preach the Gospel. In the first instance, this was an encounter not with concepts or ideas but with the person of Jesus himself. In fact, Paul met not only the historical Jesus of the past, but the living Christ who revealed himself as the one Saviour and Lord. Similarly, the ultimate source of our own conversion lies neither in esoteric philosophical theories nor abstract moral codes, but in Christ and his Gospel. He alone defines our identity as Christians, since in him we discover the ultimate meaning of our lives. Paul, because Christ had made him his own (cf. Phil 3:12), could not help but preach the Good News he had received (cf. 1 Cor 9:16). So it is with us. Transfixed by the greatness of our Saviour, we – like Saint Paul – cannot help but speak of him to others. May we always do so with joyful conviction!
    Pope Benedict XVI, Sept, 2008

    • Hi Anne! I appreciate your point. I think it’s important to note that Paul didn’t think he was converting from Judaism to what we call Christianity. Rather, Paul converted from being a persecutor to identifying with the persecuted. He had that radical change because of his encounter with the risen Christ. Whether or not he would use the term “converted” is not really my concern. The point remains the same. Paul moved from being a persecutor to identifying with the persecuted. From violence to nonviolence. The scales fell from his eyes. So, yes, let’s continue to speak about that transformation in our lives!

      Peace,
      Adam

      • AnneG

        Paul was a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, as was Jesus.
        Jesus was the Messiah, Son of God. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of Moses, to fulfill the Covenants of the OT, not to do away with persecution or prejudice.
        Not from violence to nonviolence as you say.
        The transformation is Theosis that we are called to and means we do what is necessary, but it is a divine calling, not an earthly one. We are to work that out in our lives.
        Transfixed by the greatness of our Savior.

      • Mahender Goriganti

        Very good explanation. I add the following. The victims families forgiven and asked their God to forgive him is a form that the victims themselves expressed just like Jesus. It is up to the white to actually open their eyes / let the eyes open.

  • Jeffrey Krall

    We in Sanford after the the Trayvon Martin tragedy discovered new ways to dialogue. .http://onelordonebody.com/2013/08/28/i-have-a-dream-too/

  • Mahender Goriganti

    Mahatma Gandhi was killed by one of his religious fanatic based on perceived injustice to his community (Hindu) during India Pakistan Pakistan.Gandhi did call for his death but peace ( Ohm Shanthi!!). The reason why India is home to umpteen number of religions; including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Jain, Buddhist etc.

  • Daniel Boome

    There are a number of things wrong with this article, not the least of which is the unsubstantiated notion that there is this “racist structure” overlaying the foundation of this country. This is something often thrown out there as something we must accept and not dispute, almost as if disputing it is akin to disputing that slavery existed. The truth is that this country as a whole bends over backwards for minorities and any perceived offense to racial sensibilities. Corporations can’t exist in today’s marketplace if they have any hint of racial bias (whether real or merely perceived), nor can they have representatives say anything in private or public that may be deemed racially insensitive. Individuals can lose millions just from the slightest offenses that have race attached to them (see Paula Deen). Diversity initiatives run rampant, even to the point of absurdity. Nevertheless, they exist and exist solely for the purpose of attempting to show goodwill towards racial minorities. We could also go on and on about how some minorities use the fact that our culture bends over backwards for any perceived slight in order to perpetuate numerous frauds (see Toni Christina Jenkins and Andrea Brazier). In most of these cases, the community rallied around the “victims” until it was proven to all be made up.

    White people don’t have anything to apologize for in the Charleston tragedy, any more than blacks have to apologize for the likes of Aaron Alexis, John Lee Muhummad, Colin Ferguson, or any other blacks who went on mass shooting sprees against whites. The families of the Charleston victims forgave the perpetrator and him alone. They were not forgiving white America nor the “racist structures” that supposedly “allowed” Roof to commit his crime. Roof did not murder anyone because of America’s sin of racism. He murdered because of his own personal racism and in spite of the the ultimate condemnation of his actions by 99.9999% of whites in this country. To turn the forgiveness of the victims into to some vague critique of white American hypocrisy can only be done by accepting an elitist worldview that says minorities remain to this day in a perpetual state of victimhood and whites sit at a table of perpetual privilege. This is such nonsense and I wish people would get away from these false presuppositions about life. We don’t have to accept these notions to have honest debate. We can’t even praise the victims in Charleston for their Christ-loving expressions of faith, we have to turn it into racial politics. I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand any of the points made in this article. It’s extremely presumptuous and reliant on doublespeak.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      “…To turn the forgiveness of the victims into to some vague critique of white American hypocrisy can only be done by accepting an elitist worldview that says minorities remain to this day in a perpetual state of victimhood and whites sit at a table of perpetual privilege…”

      The author of the article didn’t say the forgiveness was “a critique.” He advised people not to do what you’re doing, and pretend that our racial problems are in the past. I disagree with the word “victimhood” to describe what’s happening to blacks, because by and large, they don’t let themselves be stopped by the racism they face every day. If you believe that there’s no such thing as white privilege, however, you need to have your eyes opened.

      Marijuana-related arrests and convictions are much higher for black people, even though marijuana use is the same regardless of race. Crack cocaine, used primarily in the black community, carries harsh mandatory sentencing, but penalties for powder cocaine are lower. Black people are more likely to be pulled over for traffic violations, real or imagined. I could and will go on, if you insist.

      That isn’t to say that a lot of conscious thought goes into systemic racism, which is still a huge problem. There doesn’t have to be that much conscious thought when there’s so much subconscious misunderstanding and prejudice.

      • Daniel Boome

        The problem is that it is never clearly defined what is meant by “our racial problems are in the past”. All of them? Some of them? Very few of them? None of them? Also, what problems? Voting rights? Jim Crow laws? Slavery? All of those things are completely outlawed, so of course it’s absurd to suggest that none of our racial problems are in the past. It is never defined what “racism” it is specifically that blacks face these days. If indeed what you say is true and “they don’t let themselves be stopped” by it, then certainly it’s not a very powerful racism. But yet again, we don’t even know what form of racism is being talked about. The idea of “white privilege” is also meaningless unless you’re going to define it. I say this because I see numerous examples of what someone could call “black privilege” and also things that people call “white privilege” which are really nothing more than class privilege. I can guarantee you that Lebron James’ kids are over a million times more privileged than my kids if you want to talk about class privilege. The problem lies in the fact that because intact family units exist in greater proportion amongst whites, this “class privilege” gets misattributed to “white privilege”.

        The marijuana-related arrests is a tired and worn out argument that gets passed as “evidence” of systemic racism all the time. The NY Times and Washington Post have trumpeted in numerous articles and many cable TV outlets have picked up on it. There are several problems with it. Number one is the fact that it relies entirely on self-reporting. The self-reporting method of compiling narcotics use statistics has proven over and over to be wholly unreliable. Johns Hopkins tested the self-reporting of marijuana use among African Americans
        and found: “A study of 290 African American men in Baltimore, Maryland undergoing treatment for hypertension showed that self-reporting of illicit drug use is unreliable. Only 48 of the participants reported drug use but urine drug tests revealed that 131 had used drugs.” This alone would render the idea that whites and blacks smoke the same amount of pot untrue. But even if it were, the study doesn’t take into account several variables, one of which is the nature of the arrests. Most marijuana-related arrests involve possession with intent to distribute. Retired judge and current CEO of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Arthur Burnett, says that police tend to concentrate their numbers in black communities because it is easier to intervene and make arrests in “open air” drug markets than it is to look inside the homes and basements of white communities where the cannabis markets are typically carried out. The distrust towards cops from those in black communities (even towards other black cops) is self-perpetuating, as the need to lash out and provoke is the prevailing mindset of those who feel they don’t have any other option. Even among all those arrested for marijuana related crimes, Burnett says that cooperation levels are far higher from whites than blacks, regardless of the race of the cop.

        The same thing can be said of traffic stops. Considering that blacks commit violent crimes at a 500% higher rate than whites, it only makes sense that they would be pulled over far more, even in a world where cops are completely free of racial prejudice. There is a similar difference between the two genders — males are nearly twice as likely as females to be arrested during a stop. Is that because cops are sexists? No, it’s because men commit more crimes. This doesn’t even address the fact that blacks are so often told the lie that they are stopped for no reason and so any time they get stopped they see it as evidence of racism that they face. Their anecdotes become sensationalized and aggregated to paint a picture of racist cops who are products of the supposed racist system that they serve. Never mind the fact that whites get stopped many times for minor (even non-existent) infractions (I myself could tell lots of stories of petty stops I’ve endured). The fact that I and many other whites don’t have the racial grievance card to hold onto and thereby aggregate into a picture of the injustice we suffer at the hands of cops is what creates the false narrative. The assumptions underlying race create a distinction in how we view the treatment of respective races. It creates a perception that is rarely grounded in reality.

        The bottom line is that many racial grievances are self-perpetuating lies or misrepresentations that create self-fulfilling prophecies. Studies purporting to find “compelling” evidence of racism in certain sets of data turn out to be fruitless tasks because the data is so often misinterpreted or leaves out important variables. I have seen enough to be able to boldly say that I do not believe institutional or systematic racism exists. I know it’s heresy to say that and people will interpret that to mean I believe racism and/or bias is dead, but that would just be a misrepresentation of what I’m trying to say. I would never say anything of the sort. I do believe there are certain biases that exist and I believe racism exists among all races and nationalities. The evidence, however, for that racism being institutionalized and thereby used for targeting certain minorities and disenfranchising them is nearly non-existent. Nowadays, we don’t even cite evidence, we just say that it must be “subconscious” or “inactive” racism. That’s what happens when we don’t have facts to back us up, we just invent vague categories to box it up.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          “…The evidence, however, for that racism being institutionalized and thereby used for targeting certain minorities and disenfranchising them is nearly non-existent…”

          I used to think like you. I used to think institutional racism was over. I certainly never saw it for myself, or so I thought, so I couldn’t understand why some people didn’t get the message that they just needed to suck it up and get on with life.

          I eventually began to realize things weren’t as I’d thought, but the evidence had been there in front of me the whole time, just as it’s in front of you. All you have to do is be honest about how different national stories would have been handled if the races of the victim and the perpetrator had been switched.

          Consider the Trayvon Martin case, which I will never forget as long as I live. A grown man with a history of domestic violence stalks an unarmed teenager and shoots him to death. The conservative media fell all over themselves to defend the killer. Anything sordid from the killer’s past, if brought up in court, was considered unfair characterization of the killer. The same people would go out of their way to point out that Trayvon Martin had been given detention for acting up in school, and had had marijuana found in his locker.

          The only thing you have to do to understand institutional racism is flip the races of the murderer and his victim. All you have to do is TRY to imagine how it would have been handled in the media and by politicians if an innocent, unarmed, white teenager had been stalked and killed by a black man.

          What would have happened to the gun manufacturer of the murder weapon if they’d given a VIP tour of their factory to a black man who’d murdered a white kid?

          • Daniel Boome

            So, you used to think like me? Meaning you used to think rationally with facts instead of emotion and generic cliches regarding race? Because I already refuted your arguments with facts and presented why I believe your way of thinking is based on myth and misperception. I didn’t say anything about anyone needing to just “suck it up” or “get on with life”. That’s just a mischaracterization of the point I was making. Then to top it off, you give an example to try and prove your point and it really does just the opposite.

            You couldn’t have it more backwards. In most of the stories at the forefront of our national media, you will find those that fit the narrative that racism is a huge problem, cops unfairly target blacks, blacks are unfairly stereotyped, etc. Were you to reverse the races in any of the most prominent stories of the last several years (Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, etc.) you would not get anywhere near the media coverage that those got. In fact, i would say they would be next to non-existent. You have never heard of Dillon Taylor in Utah or Gilbert Collar in Alabama or Braheme Days in New Jersey. I could cite more but that fact alone throws your theory out the window. It’s amazing how backwards you see things.

            George Zimmerman became the first “white Hispanic” we’ve ever heard of. That was the first point the media concocted in order to drum up the white on black picture. He did not have a long history of domestic. Police were called on minor incidences, much of which turned out to be nothing. Most of the incidences since his exoneration have certainly been that, as well. If anything, he has a history of having unfounded charges dropped. Regardless, that part is irrelevant, but you are simply wrong if you think that wasn’t brought up incessantly in the media, despite the fact that there was nothing to them.

            He did not “stalk” Martin. He called in to the non-emergency line when he noticed Martin roaming around in random fashion in the rain in an area where there had previously been many break-ins. It was only logical he make the call. Zimmerman simply asked, as a neighborhood watchman, that law enforcement come check it out. He wasn’t doing because of the oft-repeated myth that he “saw a black boy up to no good” or whatever else dishonest people attribute to them. You can’t find a hint of bias in his call or the police reconstruction interview he did the next day. One elderly black resident of the townhouse community even testified at the trial of how appreciative she was of his efforts in trying to keep that community safe. You never heard about that unless you watched the trial. Nevertheless, as I said, Zimmerman didn’t stalk Martin. That’s just a buzzword used to paint a biased picture. The truth is that he followed Martin at the behest of dispatch and stopped when they told him they didn’t need to do that, despite the incessantly repeated myth that he followed despite being told not to (listen to the tape and subsequent police reconstruction interview). It was Martin that doubled back to confront Zimmerman and did so in a violent manner. Eyewitness testimony, police interviews, stress tests on Zimmerman all confirmed Martin being on top of and beating Zimmerman after suddenly confronting him. Despite all of this, it was the mainstream media’s attempt to almost immediately paint Zimmerman as a large and savage-looking thug and Martin as an angelic little boy that had the conservative blogosphere trying to peel back the layers of the onion and bring out the truth about Martin. It had nothing to do with trying to “tear down the victim and sully his reputation” and everything to do with holding the media accountable for their misrepresentations in trying to portray things in the way they did. It was done to counter the false narrative that had been held up to the American public. It was actually anything from Martin’s past, if brought up in court, that was considered an unfair characterization. It wasn’t just Zimmerman. The fact that the Miami-Dade school district deliberately tried to hide criminal activity of black males to keep statistics favorable has been proven by affidavits provided by former school resource officers. One instance was a burglary committed by Martin in which several thousands of dollars of jewelry was stolen just a mile from his high school. When confiscated by then school resource officer Darryl Dunn, Martin’s backpack turned up at least 12 pcs of ladies jewelry, and a man’s watch, in addition to a flat head screwdriver described as “a burglary tool”. When Trayvon was questioned about who owned the jewelry and where it came from, he claimed he was just holding it for a “friend”. A “friend” he would not name.

            Later, after the police report was outlined in the Francis Robles article, and despite Trayvon being suspended for the second time in a new school year, Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, said Trayvon’s dad, Tracy Martin, and Trayvon’s mom, Sybrina Fulton, did not know anything about the jewelry case.

            It was only as a consequence of a M-DSPD internal affairs investigation that “why” they may not have known came to light. SRO Dunn never filed a criminal report, nor opened a criminal investigation. Instead, and as a result of of pressure from former chief Hurley to avoid criminal reports for black males students, Dunn wrote up the jewelry as “found items”, and transferred them to the Miami-Dade Police property room where they sat on a shelf as “unassigned items”. Did you ever hear any of this? Of course not, this wouldn’t fit the racist stalker shooting down an unarmed boy narrative. Nor would the U-Tube videos showing Martin’s affinity for street fighting or his use of purple drank. That would be where the “iced tea and skittles” come in (it was actually skittles and Arizona Watermelon fruit juice cocktail, perfect for making purple drank). Regardless, this had to be dug up by people who cared about the truth. It certainly wasn’t the media or the Martin family attorneys. They did everything they could to cover it up. Benjamin Crump even trotted out a made up witness in Rachel Jeantel, who turned out to not be the girlfriend he had originally told us about. He lied just about every step of the way in entire case.

            Your assertion of the need to flip the races of the murderer and the victim just doesn’t work. You hear about the black victims. You never hear a peep about white victims of black mob violence. I doubt you’ve ever heard of the murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsome. I don’t recall it ever being a national story, yet the details of it are not in dispute and are far more gruesome than anything you’ve ever heard of whites doing to blacks in this day and age. You have no evidence of anything you assert. You say it as thought it’s true, but just the opposite of the nonsense you assert is true. The Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray narratives were been built upon mountains of lies. In all those cases Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman, and the Baltimore cops were nothing more than pawns and sacrificial lambs for the grievance industry and our complicit media. I don’t have to “try to imagine how it would have been handled in the media and by politicians if an innocent, unarmed, white teenager had been stalked and killed by a black man”, because I already know of many examples (I’ve cited only a few of them) and I’ve seen the national media go absolutely silent about those. Meanwhile, the opposite occurs when a black is gunned and even when the evidence gradually starts to come out, it is never as portrayed and shows the victim actually being the instigator. Yet you want to cite that as in support of your thinking on this???? Care to rethink that? You have been hoodwinked by the media in every way. Every one of your arguments so far has been based on worn out myths that have no basis in solid facts or concrete evidence. And no, those who do not agree with you are not racist and they do not believe that racism is dead or blacks are inherently this or that or whatever other unfair attributions are heaped on us. Until you re-orient your thinking regarding the lies you’ve bought into like “stalking an unarmed child”, “hands up, don’t shoot”, etc., you’ll never be able to have an honest debate. I feel like that’s all I do when I have a debate about race. I have to constantly correct the lies that have been accepted as facts.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            You have no reason to be so angry about this. You haven’t been accused of anything other than having racial prejudice, which you claim everyone has any way. You find it easier to accept a conspiracy theory involving the media, Miami-Dade schools, brainwashing activities, and a host of other highly unlikely things to support your view of Trayvon Martin did not have the right to “stand his ground” against an armed, larger, maniac. And don’t even pretend Zimmerman was innocent, because it’s only a matter of time until the bastard tries to kill someone else.

            Don’t get on your high horse because you’ve scoured the internet looking for one case where white people died and black men didn’t immediately go to jail. You want to believe white people are victimized by the 12% of the population that’s black, you go right ahead, but don’t you dare pretend you’re doing so because of evidence or logic. It doesn’t wash. You’re only fooling yourself and other cowards.

          • Daniel Boome

            Hmmm….I’m starting to get the idea that you don’t really care about the truth. You clearly implied that my thinking suggests that I don’t “understand why some people didn’t get the message that they just needed to suck it up and get on with life”. Now you are saying that I’m “angry” about this whole thing and even worse, a “coward”. Where exactly did you get that? Am I frustrated by the lack of transparency or the fact that the truth has been suppressed? Of course. Anybody who cares should be. But all I have done is respond to the erroneous things you’ve cited as evidence of racial oppression and/or prejudice that supposedly runs rampant in our country. Your attempt to simply categorize my response as showing me to be “angry” is a nice deflection, but the truth is that I have refuted all your points and you don’t have anything left. I even explained why you are wrong about the whole Trayvon Martin case and instead of countering any of my points, you double down on the media-driven lies that I have already shown to be false. Exactly what good do you think repeating the same things is going to do?

            I don’t “accept” anything because it’s easier. I only accept what I see to be the truth. The truth has no agenda. Everything I cited is verifiable and documented. There’s no “theory”, so your idea that I’ve just got all these conspiracy theories is false. Just because the facts don’t align with what you’ve been led to believe doesn’t mean you can dismiss it as “conspiracy theory”. The things I cited about Martin and about the Miami-Dade school system can be dismissed as “right wing lies”(as many do, not saying you specifically) all day, but the problem is that none of it is speculation. It’s Trayvon Martin in his own words, it is screen grabs of his texts, it is his own Facebook posts, it is the actual autopsy report in full. It is sourced. It is evidenced. It is called JOURNALISM. There was no journalism on this case in places like any mainstream media outlets or publications like the NY Times. These facts cited were available to everyone. Like I said, they didn’t fit the narrative. The same narrative that you have bought into. If you want evidence of the Miami-Dade school system’s corruption and manipulation of crime statistics in order to show more favorably towards black males, here are the sworn affidavits completed by members of the Miami-Dade school police department:

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/135564937/Sergeant-William-Tagle-Internal-Affairs-Investigative-Report

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/135684004/Steven-N-Hadley-Sr-affidavit-and-investigation

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/135692728/Affidavit-From-Commander-Deanna-Fox-Williams

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/136164820/sergeant-Lourdes-Hodges-Sworn-Statement-Affidavit

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/136392330/Sworn-affidavit-of-Detective-Gylamar-Ochoa-MDSPD

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/136642019/Sergeant-Bradley-Rosh-MDSPD-Sworn-Affidavit

            Maybe if Trayvon Martin had gotten properly disciplined for his crimes and indiscretions (instead of having them covered up), he wouldn’t have fallen through the cracks and been passed from his mom, to his uncle, and to his dad due to suspensions. Then maybe he might be alive today. Who knows. What I do know that is that there is no evidence in the case we are discussing that Zimmerman simply gunned down Martin in cold blood. The police investigation was completed (without regard to any of Martin’s proclivities for street fighting or drug use) and no basis evidence for charges emerged. This was despite Sanford detective Chris Serino grilling Zimmerman for over eight hours and telling Martin’s parents that he wanted to “catch him (Zimmerman) in a lie”. Your “stand your ground” statement is irrelevant. There was no “stand your ground” situation in this case. It’s a fact that Martin went past and then came back to Zimmerman to confront him. Martin was not “hunted down”, “stalked”, or any other slogan you want to use to describe the situation. Should Zimmerman have gotten out of the car? Probably not, and I’m certain Zimmerman would agree with that now. It is irrelevant legally to the case. Just to be clear, I don’t care on iota about Zimmerman. He may very well a man of dubious moral character (although his actions in the Sherman Ware case are something you would likely praise, http://wreg.com/2012/07/12/report-zimmerman-worked-to-help-black-man-in-beating-case/). Whether he is or is not is not relevant to our discussion. Nor is his size (he wasn’t much larger than Martin at all at the time). Nor is your assertion that “it’s only a matter of time until the bastard tries to kill someone else”. By this point your just trying to gather and throw as much mud as you possibly can. You have nothing to substantiate any of your baseless assertions.

            Speaking of baseless assertions, you also say I’m on my “high horse”. As I’ve said before, I guess when facts fail you just try to paint your opponent in the most blighted way you can. It doesn’t help your case to try and paint a haughty picture of me. All I’ve tried to do is argue for the truth. I’m not on any horse. It also doesn’t help your case to say that I’ve ” scoured the internet” looking for stories to counter. I guess that’s true in part, because unfortunately that’s what you have to do find these types of stories. They don’t meet the politically correct criteria to make headlines on the national news. But you’re wrong in believing that I found just one story (I cited others above and could cite more if need be). Citing the one story I did was merely to counter the point that you state that the “only thing you have to do to understand institutional racism is flip the races of the murderer and his victim”. My point is that you have it backwards. I could cite more if you need, but the notion that “All you have to do is be honest about how different national stories would have been handled if the races of the victim and the perpetrator had been switched” is just plain wrong. It’s exactly the opposite. That was my only point and had absolutely nothing to do with believing “white people are victimized by the 12% of the population that’s black”. That’s just you putting words in mouth. I’ve not said or suggested anything of the sort. Our discussion had to with the media and the narratives created by the media. Am I a “coward” and “fooling myself” for simply trying to find the truth? Like I said, the truth has no agenda. Not only that but right is right even if nobody believes it and wrong is wrong even if everybody believes it. If you still want to discuss and debate this, you need to have facts to support what you say and then we can continue, but you can’t keep making unsubstantiated assertions. This whole thing started with discussing the above article and whether there is this “racist structure” that rules our society. I challenged that notion and your response was to erroneously cite things that you believed did in fact show that this “racist structure” existed. When challenged on those points you have been unable to back them up and instead delved into making baseless statements and accusations that can’t even be verified one way or the other. With all due respect, I’m not interested in debating those sorts of things. But if you have anything to challenge what I say (and can do so without attributing certain motives to me) then by all means continue. Otherwise, I consider our discussion to have reached an impasse.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            Daniel, we’re at a point where we’re nominally agreed on the principles of critical thinking but we’re applying them in different ways. I don’t see you as someone who’s just looking at facts, and you keep saying similar things to me. To your credit, you’ve put a lot of energy behind your argument, and I believe you think it’s solid logic. I can’t do justice to this kind of detailed disagreement during the work week, and I’m not sure it’s worth our time regardless, because we’d be putting a lot of work into an argument only a handful of people would ever read. Still, part of me wants to continue if only to understand better how you’ve justified your position. There’s always the possibility that I’d be surprised. Let me give it some thought, and if I comment here again, you’re welcome to take it or leave it without my accusing you of dodging the issue. If I don’t, you’re welcome to say what you want, of course.

  • Susan A

    “Many white Americans interpret black forgiveness as absolution for the racist attitudes that led to the attack.”

    I don’t understand how you even get to that fantasy. It’s a nonsense notion.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      “I don’t understand how you even get to that fantasy. It’s a nonsense notion (to mistake black forgiveness as absolution).”

      I don’t see how you can say it’s a nonsense notion. For those who don’t want to face their own prejudices, the forgiveness in that courtroom will be the excuse they use. “Why are you making such a big deal about this? The victims’ family forgave that. It’s over.” Then they’ll accuse progressives and moderates of race-baiting if they try to make actual changes to our culture and our laws.

  • Rt1583

    This seems to have Matthew 6:1-8 written all over it.
    The act of forgiveness, if it is to be held in the regard that Mr. Ericksen puts forth in the article, is a private affair between the forgiver, the forgiven and their god. It doesn’t need to be nor, according to the bible, should it be announced to the world.
    How is it, Mr. Ericksen, that you see hypocrisy in the response of “white America” yet you don’t see the hypocrisy in a person of faith proclaiming their prayer of forgiveness for all the world to see when the very book they stand on directly tells them not to do it?
    Could it be that the hypocrisy of white America is really nothing more than the public in general reacting to a chicken little scenario? I’m sure we all know, in our private lives, of people who publicly profess their religion quite vociferously yet behave in a way that is absolutely counter to this in private. This has bled over to the public at large since many more people of faith are given a wider array of platforms from which to speak. For the case at hand, her forgiveness was public but does anyone besides her know if her forgiveness holds true in private?

    • Maine_Skeptic

      “…yet you don’t see the hypocrisy in a person of faith proclaiming their prayer of forgiveness for all the world to see when the very book they stand on directly tells them not to do it?…”

      I don’t think your Matthew 6:1-8 reference makes any sense, and I can only hope it’s not coming from the same place as the impulse some have to blame blacks for their own victimization.

      There’s a difference between publicly praying up a storm and publicly forgiving someone. Public prayer is ceremonial, and it’s usually more of a message to the human listeners than to any gods. Public forgiveness is a statement of commitment to forgive, and it’s an actual sacrifice on the part of the person saying it. For most people, making such a commitment carriers a high cost and very little benefit.

      I cringed when I heard this woman say she forgave the murderer, not because I thought she shouldn’t eventually forgive him, but because she was making a commitment before she fully understood and had experienced the loss she was forgiving. It’s going to be very hard to live up to.

      But even if she later finds she can’t live up to forgiving the murderer, it would not make her a hypocrite. To be a hypocrite, she’d have to have committed a crime as heinous as his and asked for forgiveness, only to refuse it to someone else.

      • Rt1583

        I referenced Matthew 6:1-8 because the act of forgiveness, in the religious sense, is a prayer between that person and their god. Publicly proclaiming that forgiveness is nothing more than pandering to the media so that the public can walk away with a warm fuzzy feeling because such and such person is such a good Christian when in reality the public knows absolutely nothing about the person professing their forgiveness.
        What is gained by someone publicly proclaiming their forgiveness other than the cheapening of the act because anybody and everybody can and will get in on it?
        That’s the point of Matthew 6:1-8. Don’t make a public spectacle of your relationship with your god.

        • Maine_Skeptic

          “…That’s the point of Matthew 6:1-8. Don’t make a public spectacle of your relationship with your god…”

          We disagree that this is something someone would do to pander to the media, but I’m not religious, so I’ll grant that maybe you understand religious hypocrisy better than I do. Still, given all the things done to this country by the religious right, wearing their religion on their sleeves, milking it for every bloody drop of political power, that a public statement of forgiveness is the thing you feel the need to speak up about.

          • Rt1583

            I am no longer religious because of what I saw in the people around me when religion played a big part in my life.
            What I’ve said above is influenced by the duplicity I saw in the religious people around me, from the pastor of my church down to the parishioners.

          • Maine_Skeptic

            “…What I’ve said above is influenced by the duplicity I saw in the religious people around me, from the pastor of my church down to the parishioners.”

            Do you not see a difference, though, between that and what has happened in the church in Charleston? I don’t know whether she’s ready to forgive or not, but that’s beside the point, in that she’s given up something that has a real cost. Normal hypocritical prayer has no cost.