It recently dawned upon me that African-Americans are the most forgiving population in the world despite reports that make them appear otherwise.
In fact, it seems that African-Americans are overly eager to forgive whites for the evil they do, regardless of the transgression or offense. This eagerness to forgive others, particularly when it comes to white folk, for the evil they do has led to them offering forgiveness before the evil-doer even asks for forgiveness. One only needs to look at the case of Charleston, South Carolina, shooter Dylan Roof; an individual who has actually never expressed regret or a modicum of remorse regarding his actions, yet African-Americans fell over themselves offering forgiveness that Roof has absolutely no interest in receiving.
This well worn pattern of forgiveness that emanates from African-Americans ranging from the actual victims of racist attacks to so-called Black leaders has resurfaced with the case of Rachel Steigerwald, one of the six white female students at Desert Vista High School. Mrs. Steigerwald has come forth to ask the nation for forgiveness regarding her role in the widely circulated photo that showed her and five of her classmates spelling out the racial epithet “NI**ER” during their senior picture day.
Although many within our community have applauded Mrs. Steigerwald’s coming forth to ask for forgiveness and participating in a civil rights rally that was ironically occurring in front of her school because of her actions. During the alluded to Civil Rights protest, this young lady related that not only was she not a racist, but she has “…come here to say that I am incredibly, incredibly sorry. I have love for everyone in my heart. I am not a racist and I’m asking everyone for forgiveness.”
Predictably, Mrs. Steigerwald is not alone, recently a Maryland teenager who created a video disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement has found himself apologizing for his actions.
During the aforementioned 30-second video the young man, who is a student at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City voiced his feelings on many racial matters such as “who the ^$@$ cares about some black man who dies?…they are an inferior race, OK?” The video ends with the disturbed young man holding up a five-dollar bill displaying ‘the great emancipator’ Abraham Lincoln and his relating that Lincoln was a traitor to white folk; apparently for the Emancipation Proclamation.
Amazingly this young man is now asking for forgiveness now, an action that has most certainly been caused by Howard County school administrators involvement in the matter. In a moment of contrition, the young man posted on social media, “I am learning from this mistake and hope to gain forgiveness from those who I hurt with my words.”
If I could speak to both of these young whites, I would do my best to convey to them that they are wasting their time asking for forgiveness as the vast majority of African-Americans, with their eagerness for racial tranquility, had forgiven you the moment that your offenses were made. Such people operate from the MLK position that ‘the best thing that you can make out of an enemy is a friend.’ However, there is another population who will never excuse such behavior and are only interested in seeing an appropriate punishment for your words and actions.
It is that population that I not only salute, but also urge many members of the forgiving horde to join. As Frederick Douglass once stated, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.” Your eagerness to offer forgiveness, although cute, is far from a demand and therefore of no use to the liberation of Black people and the securing of racial equality.
James Thomas Jones III