Writer: Forgiveness not the only response to racism

Fusion’s Collier Meyerson has seen the video of Asma Jama forgiving the woman who smashed a beer mug into her face at an Applebee’s in Coon Rapids, and the reporter, who covers race, doesn’t want any misinterpretation.

“It’s compelling and powerful to watch a black woman stare down the barrel of violent racism and say, ‘I forgive you,’” she writes today.

What if she hadn’t?

Meyerson says she “unnerved” by the “blanket celebration” of black people forgiving their white tormentors.

Days after Dylann Roof killed Nadine Collier’s mother and eight others at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, Collier addressed Roof, 21 at the time, and said, “I forgive you.” She told him he took “something very precious away” from her that she won’t ever get back. “I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul.…You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you,” she said.

Collier was celebrated by magazines and talking heads for her astounding ability to forgive Roof for his heinous crime.

Black rage, however, is nearly always condemned. Images of angry young black men and women are viewed as unacceptable. Cable news videos from Baltimore and Ferguson, where young black people scream in fury with handkerchiefs tied across their faces, is rarely celebrated. Neither is the civil unrest that comes with it, where stores and cop cars burn up in flames and people run through the streets, anger rushing through their veins. Those moments are hardly ever presented in my Facebook feed as acceptable and appropriate reactions to racism. These acts are seen, by most, as unforgivable, inappropriate, and unjustifiable.

She says “smashing mugs in our faces is unforgivable, inappropriate, and unjustifiable,” and anger over it is worth celebrating, too. There aren’t enough stories of white redemption to “ignore and disengage from black rage,” she writes.