Malcolm X used to say that Blacks in living in the U.S. were nothing but ex-slaves. Sixty years later, the forgiving of and outrageous and embarrassing fawning by Black people in a Dallas courtroom over a white woman who murdered a Black man is yet another indication that many Black people have not escaped the mentality that accompanies enslavement, especially those who accept their lot without resistance.
Incredibly, Botham’s younger brother, the judge and the bailiff tried to make the admittedly racist murdering, unapologetic white woman cop and criminal Amber Guyger into a sympathetic figure, rather than the real victim, Botham Shem Jean, who was a hard-working, upstanding and loving human being
This is evidence of something deeply wrong in the Black psyche. It is as if these people have some kind of sick racial Stockholm syndrome.
The fact that so many Black people tried to give Guyger a pass in the murder of Jean is disturbing in and of itself. The Black Dallas police chief, aided in Guyger’s initial attempt to obfuscate her crime. The Black Texas ranger investigator testified that he thought she was justified in killing a man sitting in his own home, on his own couch, eating his own food.
Texas Ranger Sgt. David Armstrong said incredulously, in open court, that the investigation lead him to believe authorities had no probable cause to arrest Guyger for any crime. “I don’t believe that [the shooting] was reckless or criminally negligent based on the totality of the investigation and the circumstances and facts,” he said.
If Black people believed they were full human beings deserving of equal rights and “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” especially the right to life, there would be no place where this fool Negro could find peace and comfort among fellow Blacks.
Likewise, the jury filled with Black people could not bring themselves to give her more than 10 years as if this was just an innocent mistake.
But this was no accident— this was a malicious crime. After shooting Jean, Guyger acted as if she had run over a rodent on the street.
She made little effort to allow her victim an opportunity to identify himself, or even get an explanation about why he was in her apartment, if that was indeed her assumption. She could have pulled her gun and held him at gunpoint if she thought he was an intruder and simply called for backup.
Instead, she made a choice to shoot to kill and failed to render medical attention, but rather sought to immediately afterward to cover-up what she had done.
Ironically, her quick and deadly response reinforces the fragile and precarious and whimsical nature of Black existence in U.S. society. Blacks live lives fraught with peril, seen and unseen. It is similar to navigating a maze with dangers lurking around every turn or walking a tight rope: a slip here, a misstep there and misfortune is upon us.
In a word, the clown show that erupted during her sentencing was nothing but “coonery.”
No doubt, if the younger Botham felt he needed to forgive this woman so he could move on without harboring hatred that would be reasonable. But that should have been done in private. His private choice done in public was interpreted as corporate forgiveness, rather than the act of a single individual.
The police endorsed judge, Tammy Kemp, who presided over the case would have been in earlier days would have been referred to as a “hanging judge,” had never expressed this kind of affection for anyone she had sentenced previously and definitely did not put on this kind of demonstration for any Black defendant she sentenced..
If the Guyger woman had openly pleaded to be forgiven and clearly have come across as sincere, this would be “somewhat” understandable, but she did not.
Some Black folks will think that we more, politically astute, analytical and conscious folks are being hard-hearted. But there is an inescapable political and social reality/mythology that exists in our country which deems white people more valuable than Black folks and POC in general. And there is the accompanying power dynamic that gives whites more power than Blacks in general.
Considering those dynamics unsolicited forgiveness is not an act of graciousness, but rather one of obsequiousness and weakness. In other words, the servile motivated by some deep need to pardon those they deem greater reinforces the idea that Blacks should be understanding, tolerant and forgiving of white folks indiscretions, even murder.
And making matters worse, the white-dominated corporate press makes sure this is reported far and wide so as to reinforce the idea that all is well, the Negroes are not in revolt— they still love us; we have nothing to feel guilty for. There is no need to get rid of the virus of race or even further examine it in the light of the odd and unjust sentence. If the Black folks can live with it so can we.
And right on cue white Christians—many who have not forgiven Black folks for being Black—rushed to cite Bible verses and to pat the poor mislead folks on the head. White Christians in general are a very unforgiving lot, many have still not forgiven Black folks for making them address their racism in their churches.
This form of forgiveness suggests that some Black folks have been practicing bad religion.
Nothing wrong with forgiving a neighbor who has wronged you, but forgiveness should be sought and those seeking forgiveness should at least be penitent.
As one psychologist noted, forgiveness is difficult and measured because “evolution has endowed us with the psychological motivation to avoid being exploited by others, and the easiest way to prevent exploitation is to hit back or simply avoid the exploiter.”
If only we could have left the psychological residue of slavery and oppression in that fancy new National museum, which ironically chronicles a racial past that is not quite past.
Justice, then peace.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.