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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Forgive them

If we don't, we become one with those who perpetuate the cycle of violence

They don't understand," I mused to myself. "They don't understand." In the course of my life, I can't count the number of times I've been asked to overlook subtle and blatant racist statements and actions.

Usually these aren't directed at me. They come indirectly, the speaker maintaining that they aimed their words at some nebulous "other" who happens to share a bit of the same genetic code as I do.

"I didn't mean you," they say, "You're not like ...."

I hear, and I want to scream: "But I am like them. I'm so like all of them in ways that you don't fathom. Were I not a person of Christian conviction, I'd tell you where to go with your superficial air of arrogance."

"It's tough to be black in this world," a great-uncle told me when I was younger. "No matter how much you know, what measure of success you achieve, what degree of celebrity you reach, there always seems to be some people of Caucasian extraction who assume they are innately superior, more intelligent and more able than you."


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