A sign at a Black Lives Matter protest showing photos and names of recent Black murder victims.
Photo by hannatv on Depositphotos

Is it possible that what they did is something that can’t be forgiven?

Since the election of Donald Trump, I’ve watched the country slowly drift back into blatant racial unrest. After the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020, an uprising for racial justice ignited across the globe. 

Still, that did not prevent more Black men and women from being killed by officers tasked to protect and serve them. In Buffalo, N.Y., nearly two years after Floyd was suffocated to death, an 18-year-old self-proclaimed White supremacist shot 13 people, killing 10, for simply being Black.

Watching these situations play out over and over again left me wondering, when will the country finally fix its racial problems? 

As I ruminated on that question, I came up with another question. Was it possible that the pain, suffering, torment, torture, anguish and agonizing memories of what these perpetrators did was so devastating that we just can’t find it in us to forget or forgive?

When you have committed such an egregious act, you have to first admit to it, then acknowledge and confess your burden before you can commence down the path of forgiveness. 

If you don’t first avow genuine guilt, there is no way reconciliation can be broached. 

This country is weighed down by the burden of its past. Gains have been made — yes, we’ve had an African American president. But we also had the attempted coup of Jan. 6, 2021, an attack on American democracy, carried out in large part by men and women who harbored sympathy for White supremacy. 

In America, racial tension pulls us further and further apart. And that gap continues to grow with each killing of an unarmed Black person, and with the proliferation of Black men in prison at rates much higher than White men. 

How do you mend what has been broken in such devastating ways?

I am a descendant of people who endured sadistically brutal and heartless atrocities, crimes so repulsive that it’s difficult to comprehend. I have searched within to find the wisdom or knowledge to help me reach a level of love that could erase the vile vision of my people stripped bare, shackled at the feet with yokes fitted around their necks, as if coupling draft animals to work the fields.

What can be done to eclipse these ghastly pictures? If the legacy of this barbarism continues into the present, in the form of massacres and murders and mass incarceration, then should we even contemplate forgiveness? 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Demar R. Rosemond

Demar R. Rosemond is a writer incarcerated in California.