Have We Been Duped Into Giving Forgiveness?

I don’t forgive this woman – Jeremiah Harvey

Jeremiah Harvey I don't forgive
Photo via ABC News

Unless you live in the deep dark depths of some cave far away from civilization, you most certainly have heard of “Cornerstore Caroline” who is just one of a long list of white people who have called the police on innocent people of color for the most asinine of reasons. So just to give a little background, “Caroline” whose real name is Teresa Klein, was in a busy Bodega when a 9-year-old child, who happens to be black, walked past her. This woman immediately accuses this young child of sexual assault and then make a scene which results in her calling the police while the young man and his little sister cry hysterically while gripping their mother tightly.

Many people have likened this to the case of Emmett Till, who was murdered at the age of 14 years old at the words of a white woman who later admitted she had lied. I saw the original video that was posted this week and it reminded me of a scene in The Color Purple. Sophia is out with her children when Ms. Millie compliments the children on how clean they are and then asks, “You wanna come work for me, be my maid?” All hell breaks loose when Sophia replies with a shocking, yet firm, “Hell no!”

Anyone who has watched the movie knows how that scene ends. The difference between that and what happened in this current situation was that the crowd that formed rallied around the frightened child and his family. Upon seeing this distraught family, Klein continued to agitate the situation and at one point even lied, claiming to be a police officer. Some say she is crazy and maybe she is, but that does not take away from the knowledge that she knowingly escalated the situation. She was quick to label this child a sexual predator and she knowingly tried to use the police as a weapon against innocent POC.

Teresa Klein Cornerstore Caroline

I woke up this morning and there was an update. In something I find rather remarkable Jeremiah during a press conference stated that he does not forgive Teresa Klein. I had to sit in this for a moment. What I felt was a sense of pride in this young man. We live in a world that preaches forgiveness. We are told that no matter how terrible we are treated that we need to forgive. That narrative is hammered in by telling us we have to forgive to find peace. We have to forgive to move on with our lives. We have to forgive to heal. How many of you have been hurt by someone and you are told “You don’t forgive for them, you forgive for yourself.” We buy into because we so badly want to release the pain or humiliation that person caused us.

I too have bought into this. I am guilty of saying this although I may not have fully believed it. When you think about it though, why is it pertinent to forgive? Is this just something that a guilty party has created to absolve themselves of what they have done? That’s what it seems like. Yes, in some cases forgiveness is very much warranted. Small things like harmless misunderstandings, but why should abusers, and murderers, and those who have caused trauma get forgiveness? Should they not sit in the well-deserved guilt just the same as the other person sits in the pain, fear, humiliation, etc?

I think sometimes forgiveness sends the wrong message. I wrote in one of my previous post about why I didn’t report my abuse and sexual assault. Some days I really hate him and some days I just can’t be bothered to feel anything. I convinced myself I needed to forgive him so that I could move on. I then convinced myself that I needed to do so for my children. They had seen enough in their young lives and I needed to find a way to be cordial with him. They only communicated with him through phone calls, but for me it was agonizing. I never officially told him I forgave him, but I suppose he assumed it, but then again, he still has never admitted to his wrong-doing. He seems to think we are now friends and he has the nerve to call and try to reminisce about the “good times”. Oh and let’s not forget the “can you do me a favor” calls to which I am being “mean” for saying no.

The same holds true when these blatantly racist and potentially dangerous situations are caught on tape. Just this past week we have seen not only Teresa Klein in action, but also the case of Corey Lewis who had the police called on him by the woman who followed and harassed him and the two children in his care because he was black and they were white. This week also brought us Hilary Mueller, who tried to block De’Arreion Toles from entering his apartment building because she felt he did not belong there. She stated that she felt uncomfortable and yet she still followed him into the elevator and all the way to his door on the 4th floor of the building. Tell me about how uncomfortable you are again Hilary! Not only was Hilary fired from her job, her ex-fiance has even come forward and made a whole video against her and her actions. This is all too common, but thank the Universe for technology and social media. These people are getting their just desserts! There is no room for forgiveness in these cases. Racism is not an innocent little mistake you make. Nor is abuse or sexual assault.

Willy Wonka

It’s funny the lessons we can learn from children. We sometimes believe as adults we know it all. We forget that sometimes the children become the teachers and we become the students. It is brave to hold people accountable and say you are undeserving of my forgiveness. Why has it taken me so long to see this? Now I wait for my children to get home so that I can have a conversation with them about forgiveness. I will tell them that forgiveness is only right when they feel good about it. Forgiveness is to be given at their discretion. If forgiveness is truly for  you, then you give it when you feel it is justified. My kids no longer talk to their father. People try to tell me I am wrong because he is still their father. My children’s choice to communicate with someone who has caused so much harm in our lives is absolutely their choice. If they don’t want to forgive him, they don’t have to. I don’t forgive him either. Now I wait for his next call to tell him I do not forgive you! We do not forgive you!

Love to hear your thoughts on this.

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