By Thomas Sheffield
I forgive my mother for making me wear uncomfortable shoes. I forgive my father for punishing me for something I did not do. I forgive my brother hitting me with a snowball when I wasn’t looking. I forgive my wife for elbowing me at night while I am snoring. I forgive you for not reading, replying and sharing my articles. However, when it comes to forgiving someone for murdering my family member for no reason, I am not too quick to forgive. I do believe the African American community is the moral background of this nation. I do realize we were stolen away from Africa to become enslaved for the economic benefit of the white race. But is it possible, that God sent us here to save the most powerful nation from itself?
I believe in the Bible and I am a Christian who believes in forgiveness. One of the most powerful passages in the Bible is the Lord’s prayer. We recite it as we say: “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I even believe in giving someone the benefit of the doubt. But when we see our lives as having no value in this country, white America makes it harder and harder to me to forgive. This ability of forgiveness is making it harder and harder me to love and respect myself. This unconditional forgiveness does not exhibit self respect as we become victims of the crimes of hate. According to FBI statistics, in 2017, 48.8 percent of hate crime offenses were motivated by race were anti-Black or African American bias.
It makes me question my faith and if what I have believed is all wrong. Slaveowners and preachers have used passages in the Bible to keep slaves passive and “forgiving.” We were taught and accepted the idea that God allowed our enslavement so that we will receive salvation. This dependence upon religion and our unquestioning faith, has killed our ability to have freedom of thought and question why. Because I said so or because that is the way we always have done this is no longer an acceptable answer.
NO, I am not saying we should not forgive. I am not saying our self love means we hate others. I am not saying forgiveness makes us weak. I am saying we should love ourselves enough to know we do have value. Our lives do matter. Our families and our communities matter. Our occupations matter. Our money matters. Our supporting one another and forgiving one another matters. Forgiveness is hard and it looks like it is only going to become harder. We must demand more from one another, of our churches, of our community leaders and of our government.
Supporting black businesses maybe the only way we make impactful change. Just because we forgive you does not mean we have to support you with our dollars.
If you feel the need to learn more, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @tcsheff.