This image of us as benevolent and pacifist people who will let you snatch our very souls out our bodies while smiling at you and wishing you the blessings of the Lord, is a carefully crafted image created for us by our oppressors. And, this image has absolutely nothing to do with forgiveness.
This sick concept of forgiveness suggests that our spiritual beliefs are so benign and so warped that we can endure centuries and oppression and all we have to show for it is our abilities to be bigger human beings than those who terrorize us. The truth is this image of us is beneficial to imperialism and its appendages (capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, etc.) that rely on our passiveness to perpetuate their power over us. For centuries, the institutions in the capitalist world, which influence all the institutions on earth, have taught us that any thought we can generate that contains even the slightest suggestion that we could dare have just enough dignity to slap the hell out of someone who slaps us. Stab the hell out of someone who stabs us. Shoot the hell out of someone who shoots at us. Why, we are coerced into believing that us allowing any of those thoughts to permeate our cranium will result in an automatic exclusion from any trip to heaven for us. Forgiveness is something reserved for those who make an error. Five hundred years of systemic oppression is no error.
Of course, getting back to this question of hell, Malcolm X told us in clear terms that hell is the experience we have had as a people for the last 500 years in captivity and heaven is the fruits of justice that we create for ourselves. Its been 39 years since that cop in Philadelphia, Daniel Falkner, was killed and almost as long since Mumia Abu Jamal has had to serve a prison sentence, framed for the killing of that cop. Falkner's wife, just a few weeks ago, almost 40 years after her husband was killed, and certainly after all the evidence one could ever ask for has cleared Abu Jamal from the crime, this woman is still calling for Abu Jamal to be executed. Any time any action is taken to provide him even the slightest humanity, she rises up and challenges it. I don't know if this woman truly believes Abu Jamal to be guilty or if she's just a tool for capitalism (I tend to believe its probably some sick and twisted contortion of both), but I've never had any problem understanding how she could take such a position. Even though I believe she's 100% wrong. People, even when incorrect, have the right to uphold their dignity as they see it. So, if that confused and bitter woman can do that, the proper question we have to ask is why so many of us are steadfast in believing that any effort on our part to stand up for dignity that confronts and challenges the comfort of those oppressing us is wrong?
The issue isn't just surrounding killings like those of Jean either. For far too many Africans and other colonized people, if you do something as simple as suggest organizing an event to discuss white supremacy (which I'm currently engaged in organizing), without even knowing the skill, experience, and vision of those facilitating an event like this, many of us will immediately react by suggesting we shouldn't do anything that can potentially upset Europeans. If you don't believe this, try it. Get in a group of colonized people and talk about building our self determination in ways that doesn't give a flying leap what Europeans think or feel about it and you will undoubtedly have at least one person in the group challenging you on being insensitive.
All of this happens because we have been trained to be the caretakers for Europeans which is about as insane as a chicken being a caretaker for a fox. Guess who's going to win that meet up every single time? None of us are suggesting that we lose our humanity as African people. Even if we wanted to lose it, humanity is an integral part of our national culture as African people. We cannot lose it anymore than we could lose our affinity for dance and music. Humanism is our legacy and our culture, but we must learn to understand the connection between humanity and dignity.
The first laws of human nature dictate that we have to learn to respect the concerns and interests of other people only to the degree that they respect ours. If they don't respect ours and they are inflicting brutality against us, our mindset has to become one of being able to force them to suffer consequences for their actions against us. All of us know that this is the only way to get the abuse to finally stop.
For anyone who is arguing that our spiritually requires us to accept our enemy's brutality, we say we prefer going straight to the devil to that worthless version of Christianity, Islam, or whatever form of so-called religion that's promoting our self destruction. We have to learn to teach our children that our salvation will only come when we can demand that people respect us. And to demand that we have to be organized to mete out consequences for those who mess with us. This is the type of power we need. Collective power. Mass collective power. For anyone waiting and hoping that our oppressors will become civilized based on our efforts to let them brutalize us in order for them to become civilized, I suggest that anyone attempting harm against us can become mortal really fast when we place them in the dirt. And, this goes for even those among our own people who prey upon us because that sickness is a manifestation of the same dehumanization.
So, for those who had some sort of sick feeling from watching the situation with Jean's family and his killer, your feelings are not wrong. They are human. They are a cry out for our dignity. Don't repress or dismiss those feelings. Nurture them.