Redefining homophobia

Marques Anderson | Staff Writer

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, in a 2012 interview with the Baptist Press, said: “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Since then, controversies over these and similar words and actions have continued, more recently in the form of analyzing the company’s donations. Critics have claimed that Chick-fil-A’s donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Salvation Army, to name a couple, are in pursuit of pushing an exclusive, homophobic agenda.

The underlying issue I see with this situation is that those critics refuse to recognize the validity behind the purposes of those supported organizations and, thus, Chick-fil-A.

FCA, according to its website, is dedicated to unite “two passions – faith and sports – to impact the world for Jesus Christ.” The Salvation Army, according to its website, has a mission “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

While some of the members of these organizations may disagree with another person’s lifestyle does not indicate that those members hate people with whom they may disagree. This is a fact that some people refuse to see.

Overall, I believe that there is a difference between having a reason to disagree with someone about their lifestyle and hating the people themselves because of their lifestyle. With that, I say that homophobia should be defined as, or similarly to, an illogical hatred for homosexuality.

Other Hampton University students agree that the term homophobia should imply hate rather than disagreement.

Nyasia Parks, a first-year political science major at HU, defines homophobia as “an irrational prejudice against those who love members of their own sex.”

I think the choice of words here is important: “Irrational” is defined as “not logical or reasonable” and “prejudice” as “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

This is a rather solid definition. No one should create opinions about people whom they have not met nor know anything about, without any concrete reasons or logic to do so.

Xander Roper, a freshman in computer science, said: “Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality. However, most people use the term in regards [to] intolerance.”

This is a more denotative definition, using the literal meanings of the prefix and suffix. The word “intolerance” is interesting here. It is defined as “unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behavior that differ from one’s own.”

This definition is also applicable to what we are examining. Someone who refuses to change, or at least reconsider the validity of their beliefs, when presented with opposing reasoning, is one who prevents any discourse and any progression of facts, policies or discoveries.

Nevertheless, it is important for anyone who points out someone’s intellectual stubbornness to be sure they, themselves, are open to change.

“I think homophobia is the active discrimination against those who prefer other genders,” said Mikayla Roberts, a freshman in journalism. “For example, a person may have homophobic tendencies like making jokes or may display it on a regular basis by stating that that is not who they are.”

Discrimination and verbal violence have no place in healthy disagreements. I strongly believe in, and have seen, peaceful discussions by people with differing opinions about homosexuality.

Whether it be sexual, racial, religious or other, the promotion of diversity is quite obviously on the rise.

Why Kanye West is a genius

Miles Richardson | Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, Kanye West took the world by storm by releasing his new rap album “Jesus Is King.”

Now, many of us have formed new opinions of Kanye, and most of them haven’t been very pleasant. This is mainly due to his antics over the past year: proclaiming his love for Donald Trump, wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and going public on TMZ stating that slavery was a choice.

In light of these events, many rumors began to circulate about Kanye’s mental health. He was said to have “gone crazy” by several media outlets and personalities, and was considered canceled by many celebrities and hip-hop fans.

He later announced to the world that he had been struggling with bipolar disorder and was planning on stepping away from politics in order to focus on improving himself and being creative. At this point, Kanye had seemed to hit rock bottom.

The once world-renowned and respected rap icon had been reduced to a mere laughingstock, his face plastered on memes all over social media.

Nevertheless, Kanye arose from the ashes. After a near full year of being irrelevant in the music industry, Kanye began to ring bells with the release of Jesus Is King, his new Christian rap album.

This can be described as nothing short of a brilliant PR move by West.

Furthermore, as Americans, we all love a good comeback story, and by executing his master marketing plan, this is exactly what Kanye has given us.

Another thing about Americans is that we love our religion; the majority of the United States identifies as Christian, and with this being the case, we have an inherent desire to want to be seen by our peers as God-fearing and righteous.

No matter how you feel about the album itself, the actions that led up to it or the mysteriously convenient timing of its release, the odds are you won’t have anything too negative to say about an album named after Jesus Christ.

After all, nobody wants to be at the receiving end of the kind of public criticism that Kanye faced. If anyone was to voice an opposing opinion to Kanye’s album, this is exactly the kind of scrutiny they would be putting themselves at risk of enduring.

By associating himself with Christ, Kanye has forced the public to accept him back with open arms. He has pulverized people across the world by forcing them to have an opinion on his newfound stance, and to most people, there is only one clear right opinion to have: an agreeable one.

Aaliyah Jackson, a freshman theatre major, shared how she felt about Kanye naming his album Jesus Is King.

“That’s cool,” she said. “He’s converting his life to Jesus. Hopefully it’s not a publicity stunt. But even if it is, he’s getting more people into Gospel music, and that’s cool.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if even a fraction of the people who’ve heard about this album view it as a publicity stunt, because most of them, when faced with the question of whether they support it or not, will conform to the majority perspective.

Apollo McGlone, a freshman computer science major, held a similar viewpoint.

“With Jesus Is King, Kanye took a complete 360 with his music,” McGlone said. “Instead of rapping about being a god, he turned to rapping about being a man of God. Production was the same.”

This outlook reflects the attitudes of the thousands of people across the country who have been attending Kanye’s Sunday Services to celebrate him for being an upstanding follower of Christ, or at least for broadcasting this message to the world.

These Hampton University students are proof that Kanye’s aim was achieved, which was to force people back onto his side by giving them a message they can’t dispute.

Through the use of strategic marketing, Kanye has resurrected his career by leveraging the public’s belief in the resurrection of Jesus.

The Facebook effect

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

tim-bennett-OwvRB-M3GwE-unsplashPhoto Credit: Unsplash User Tim Bennett

Facebook has been a social media giant for over a decade. It’s the online forum where people go to share pictures of their family vacations with their friends, talk about that crazy game from last night and share ideas.

However, Facebook has been in the hot seat since co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s interrogation on Capitol Hill. He is defending Facebook’s choice to not fact check the political advertisements it has on its platform.

According to the New York Times, “the social network rejected a request from Mr. [Joe] Biden’s presidential campaign to take [the ad] down, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election as well as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.”

The publication continued, explaining that Facebook explained “in a letter to the Biden campaign, that the ad did not violate the company’s policies.” Facebook stated that false statements and misleading content in these advertisements also were an integral part to the political conversation.

Knowing that misleading and even flat-out wrong information is on your platform and letting it circulate through users’ timelines is adding to the spread of disinformation. With the 2016 election not that far behind us, one would think Facebook would try to make sure that only facts are shared and not “fake news,” but that’s not how it is.

Facebook has made it a point to not seem partisan. Enforcing fact-checks on political advertisements would go against “freedom of speech.”

Even some Facebook employees don’t agree with company policies. Employees released a letter addressed to Zuckerberg, saying: “We’re reaching out to you, the leaders of this company, because we’re worried, we’re on track to undo the great strides our product teams have made in integrity over the last two years. We work here because we care, because we know that even our smallest choices impact communities at an astounding scale. We want to raise our concerns before it’s too late.”

Even after an outcry from their own employees, Facebook still seems to be standing firm on its decision not to fact-check political advertisements.

Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thompson said, “Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic, we remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

With Facebook facing flak from seemingly all sides, Twitter officials have made it a point not to follow Facebook’s actions. Twitter banned all political advertisements on its website. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made his intentions clear in a series of tweets, tweeting, “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.”

I understand that being able to let people know what your campaign stands for is an important part of running for office of any kind.

However, it is also important to speak factually. The spread of disinformation is one reason why we’re where we are now.

Films about slavery: Can’t part with them, won’t get acknowledged without them

Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer

In a world full of controversial issues and sensitive topics, films on slavery tend to garner negative attention from its audiences.

With criticisms spanning from an absence of historical facts to the excessive brutality shown on screen, slave movies and their importance are continually being called into question by audiences alike.

Following the release of “Harriet,” a film based on the inspiring life of the American freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, moviegoers raved and ranted about the debut of another motion picture on slavery. This response isn’t exclusive to “Harriet”; the critique ranges to various films with a focus on the torture Blacks felt for centuries.

Hampton University senior Destiny Woosley, has a complicated relationship with slave movies.

“I believe that it is important for the film industry to create films based on black revolutionaries, such as ‘Birth of a Nation’ and ‘Harriet,’” Woosley said. “I do not, however, believe that it is as important to create films based solely on the enslavement of black people. Though this may aid in white guilt, it can simultaneously affect black people in a negative way.”

Similar to other media outlets, the film industry has gotten its share of criticism over a lack of diversity and inclusion in movies. In regard to slave movies, a lot of the outrage comes from those who want to be represented in films that don’t showcase the torture blacks faced during slavery.

Senior Elijah Banks is of the opinion that the reason behind why the film is being made is what matters most.

“I believe most black people have issues with these movies because of where the intent comes from,” Banks said. “Movies that touch on such sensitive topics should come from people who understand the plight of what it means to be black and take the time to put together a film that sheds light and tells a detailed look into this time period. I understand dramatization sells, but at what cost?”

Senior Aaron Brown believes black people deserve to see films that represent history, no matter how atrocious it is.

“Yes, it is hard to watch so many films that depict black trauma, but if they can educate and shed light to more people on the true stories of slavery, then it should happen, as long as those aren’t the few types of movies where black people lead,” Brown said.

While some find the stories of slavery to be hard to digest, Woosley found empowerment from the tales displayed on the screen.

“These movies make me realize that we are strong as a people,” the senior said. “When I think about the slaves who worked those fields so that white people could make money, the enslaved women who cared for the children of their enslavers, I’m reminded that my people are powerful people, and without them, this country would not be what it is today.”

As to be expected with any delicate matter, the opinions on slavery movies and their importance in today’s society varies from person to person. Ultimately, the choice to watch a film depicting slavery is up to the viewers themselves. What will you choose?

Election Day party hosted by HU organizations

Shadae Simpson | Staff Writer

Did you remember to vote this Election Day?

The NAACP, Beautiful Black People (BBP) and the SGA Virginia League of Conservation Votes

Education Fund presented an Election Day Party on Nov. 5. This Election Day party took place in the Student Center Cyber Lounge from 1 to 5 p.m., and it included a DJ, food, photo booths and raffles.

Students bonded and conversed over good food and Rita’s Italian Ice, all while listening to poetry from students from various organizations around campus. HU student Sheba J., a junior entrepreneurship major from Yonkers, California, represented BBP as artistic and creative coach. She presented a poem in which she talked about African Americans overcoming oppression and exercising their individual voices.

“Don’t snore, don’t sleep, just encourage your people to get out there and vote!” she said. “Every oppressor since the dawn of time has fallen, when a group of committed people walk in unity and quit crawling.”

The event was created in hope of persuading students to go out and vote in the Virginia State Senate and Virginia House of Delegates election. It is important to have experiences such as this because they bring light to the current events that young adults entering the world need to know about. These organizations are raising awareness about exercising one’s right to vote, especially for African

Americans, because many young people feel as though their vote does not matter.

According to TheBestColleges.org, young voters make up more than half of the voting population, which makes us a powerful political force. The main goal is to encourage people to “drive the change,” go out and vote and start by making a difference where you live.

The problem is not everyone understands why they need to vote. The politicians who hold office play a huge role in everyday lives. They control money, rights and rules. Without a government, the country is nothing. Every vote truly does matter when it comes to these elections. Every vote counts, and the outcome will affect everyone’s lives.

According to The Washington Post, Virginia Democrats won both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. This is the first time that this has happened in 26 years.

“I think that Virginia becoming a blue state is a huge step in the right direction,” said Hampton University student Paige- Monét Vosges, a senior journalism major from Brooklyn, New York. “Even though many of us are not actually from Virginia, this is where we attend school, and our votes here are just as important.”

The Washington Post also stated that Virginia’s legislative elections drew high interest this year, with a flood of donations and a surge in absentee voting. This shows that holding events such as the Election Day party can be successful.

Students even had the opportunity to receive transportation to their respective voting sites in a “Black Voters Matter” shuttle bus.

“I had a good time at the Election Day party,” said HU sports management major Joshua McKissick, who is from Jacksonville, Florida. “I think it’s always a good idea to bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to a serious matter like voting.”

Overall, this was a successful event that increased voter participation. By bringing more attention to the importance of voting and everyone going out and exercising that right, little by little, voters could see a change in this country.

State of Emergency: The current state of R&B

Jordan Sheppard | Staff Writer

“Where’d the music go?” This was the question asked by R&B singer Leela James in her 2005 single “Music” from her first studio album A Change Is Gonna Come.

In the song, James is questioning the state that music was in at the time and can be used in terms of the music of today. Many mainstream artists are more focused on making money rather than making songs that have meaning behind them.

One of the genres that James is touching on is R&B, as she mentions the likes of Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye and Chaka Khan.

When she asks where has the music gone, in particular where has R&B gone? The genre that is known for putting people into all kinds of grooves and helping people fall in love seems to have disappeared from the mainstream platform.

In previous decades, ranging from the 1960s until the mid-to-late 2000s, R&B had a solidified spot as one of the nation’s top genres, with artists such as Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross becoming household names and crossing over to the Billboard pop charts.

Once the year 1990 had come around, the genre was in for a decadelong peak, producing many hit artists and groups such as Mary J. Blige, Keith Sweat, Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, SWV and Boyz II Men.

Many have coined the ’90s as the Golden Age of R&B, considering it to be one of the best periods for the genre.

Though the ’90s had a lot to offer, this decade is the beginning of the answer to what happened to R&B.

“R&B started to go downhill when hip-hop started becoming more mainstream,” said Kevin Anderson, Operations Director of Smooth 88.1, WHOV. “It’s like R&B had started to take on a hip-hop or urban persona, and it started to be reflected in the subject matter and approach to making music.”

Hip-hop had emerged in NYC in the 1970s, and then throughout the ’80s, but had struggled to gain the momentum to cross over into the mainstream and pop market. Many radio stations at the time had refused to play any of the genre’s music.

Once the ’90s had come around, hip-hop had started to rise through the ranks, emerging as one of the top genres along with pop and R&B. Rap artists such as MC Lyte, LL Cool J, Coolio, 2Pac and many more had begun crossing over into the pop charts and cracking the top 10.

At this point, the relationship between R&B and hip-hop had formed. Many R&B artists had rap artists featured on their songs and vice versa in terms of rap artists featuring R&B artists on their songs to sing either hooks or choruses.

This newly formed relationship didn’t go well for R&B, as hip-hop had begun to push it out of the way for more room to stand in the spotlight.

Then many R&B artists had begun to take on the culture and personas of many of the current hip-hop artists of the time.

“That male persona, being boastful, [had] started to take over the culture, and then from there, R&B was next,” Kevin Anderson said.

R&B used to be purely about love, and once hip-hop had entered and it was packed with these rough and tough and over-sexualized lyrics, many R&B artists had taken suit and followed. They also used many hip-hop beats to sing over.

The divide that used to separate both genres is what essentially brought them together and then started to kill R&B, therefore kicking it out of the mainstream field.

When people say that R&B is dead, the response to them is that it isn’t dead, it’s just not mainstream anymore.

While you have hip-hop to blame, consumers are also to blame. In order to help keep R&B alive, we have to support the artists and buy or stream their music.

R&B has a lot of hope left, and eventually it shall see itself back into the mainstream market.

Black & awkward

Jamaija Rhodes | Staff Writer

Issa Rae, producer and actress for HBO’s Insecure, once said, according to Washington Post Magazine, “Black and awkward is the worst, because black people are stereotyped as being anything but awkward in the mainstream media… Black people are always portrayed to be cool, overly dramatic anything but awkward.”

Until recent years, the concept of being both black and awkward has been dismissed and overlooked. As black people, we are oftentimes expected to be cool, knowledgeable on all of the trends, confident and suave. When an individual of African descent deviates from this perception society has created for the black community, their blackness is put into question.

“I feel that all the time, especially being on this campus,” senior communicative sciences and disorders major Simone Williams said.

“I watch people try so hard every day and catch myself doing the same at times, trying to impress people I barely know. I even feel that with friendships, I have to test the waters of how awkward or silly I can be around them because my [black] friends will be quick to say I’m off, a weirdo, strange or different for dressing a certain way, being daring, behaving goofy or silly or simply being myself.”

Williams says she learned who actually liked her for herself and not her representation. She continued, “It sucks, though, because I feel like that’s why some black kids with zero to no black friends gravitate to white friends more because they’re more open and accepting at times, it seems.”

Although this idea of black people being “cool” at all times was an image created by society, many individuals within our community uphold this standard.

I can recall several times where my “black card” has been revoked because I was not familiar with what my peers simply believed all black people should know. I am even guilty of excluding someone if they are not familiar with certain films or colloquialisms that are associated with black culture.

“When I went to a PWI [Predominantly White Institution], I was automatically seen as cool even when I wasn’t actively trying to be,” graduate counseling major Gabrielle Fox said. “I think that the idea of mystery and allure is automatically given to us by our white peers, especially when they want to be liked or accepted by you. It’s definitely different when you’re around other black people. There is this idea that I have to be as cool as them or else, am I really black? It sometimes feels more performative around other black individuals, especially when trying to garner attention and acceptance.”

As awesome as it seems to be the gatekeepers of “cool,” I have come to realize how detrimental this idea of “coolness” is to the individuals who are a part of our community who do not follow this standard.

It forces many of us to wear a mask and hide the aspects that make us who we are. Oftentimes, I feel like many black individuals suppress who they truly are because they fear it will cause their black card to be revoked or that they will be excluded from the group.

This is why I have come to appreciate individuals such as Issa Rae for beginning to normalize the fact that black people get nervous, can be clumsy and can be CORNY.

Normalizing this reality gives people the space to be human, and it removes the burden of having to appear to be a certain way in order for people to accept you.

The story of success

Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 2.29.24 PM

Photo Credit: Flickr User Vfutscher

It can be assumed that everyone, at some point in their life, has heard the saying, “Confidence is key.” In most cases, it’s used as encouragement, a way to express support for those looking to accomplish a task.  For the average black woman, an expression of confidence is career and social suicide.

At the age of 23, U.S. Olympian and all-around world champion gymnast Simone Biles is a household name, and she knows it. In fact, Biles would even say she’s the best.

During an Oct. 11 interview with USA Today Sports, Biles said: “It’s not out of cockiness. I’ve won five world titles, and if I say, ‘I’m the best gymnast there is,’ [the reaction is] ‘Oh, she’s cocky. Look at her now.’ No, the facts are literally on the paper.”

She’s not wrong. As the first female African-American all-around world champion, Biles is the most decorated World Championship American gymnast and holds the most World Championship gold medals won by a female gymnast in history, all while remaining undefeated since 2013.

Hampton University student-athlete Autumn Smith thinks confidence is the determining factor in one’s success.

“The No. 1 thing you need to have as an athlete is confidence,” Smith said. “You can have the best training, but once you get on the field, track, court or wherever, that’s what separates the winner from second place.”

I had two initial reactions to Biles’ statement. The first being one of admiration and agreeance and the second being fear that her bold comments would land her in the hot seat with the media and the public. Black women are often scrutinized by the public for voicing their talent and confidence, even if there’s truth to their remarks.

Hampton University senior track athlete Jaelan Leonard found no issue with Biles’ comments.

“It was appropriate for her say she’s the best,” Leonard said. “I don’t think she was being rude. I’ve been running track for a long time, so I’ve heard and seen plenty of athletes say something similar, and people don’t take offense to it. It’s all love and motivation in the sports world.”

Biles wasn’t solely speaking for herself in her interview. She was also interested in teaching a message.

“It’s important to teach our female youth that it’s OK to say, ‘Yes, I am good at this,’ and you don’t hold back,” Biles said.

While Biles said this regarding the different responses given to men versus women when they speak on their accomplishments, it’s important to recognize the society also shows white women courtesies that aren’t extended to black women.

World-renowned tennis player Serena Williams often receives backlash for her passionate responses to the outcome of a match. Many of the actions she displays when frustrated are also demonstrated by white women.

Some think the criticisms Williams received have more to do with her race than the outbursts themselves.

“I definitely think black women athletes are perceived differently than white women athletes because black women have that negative stigma of always being mad or aggressive to them already,” Smith said. “I feel as black women we have to watch everything we do especially if you represent a big platform.”

The conversation regarding black women’s success and its acceptance in mainstream media is far from over. Athletes such as Biles and Williams are faced with trials simply based on their gender and ethnic background.

The focus is not centered where it should be: on talent and sport.

The problem with @emoblackthot

Ryland Staples| Staff Writer

In the middle of the afternoon Oct. 11, I was in the library working on a project for my marketing class. Admittedly, I was procrastinating on Twitter when I came across an article from PAPER Magazine on my timeline with the caption, “GOOD MORNING TO OUR KING @emoblackthot.”

I blinked in confusion. I thought to myself, “Our king? That’s strange.” I followed @emoblackthot (EBT) for a while, and I knew that according to the tweets that the account made, that she was a queer black woman from Texas that prided herself on uplifting black women and black creatives. She reminds her followers to do his/her skin care routine before he/she goes to sleep and to make sure to eat regular meals throughout the day.

EBT had almost 200,000 followers and was on a first name basis with many celebrities. She even had “she/her” in her bio at one point.

But I reserved judgment. Maybe he was a trans-man, and he was coming out through the article. But no, the person behind the famous Twitter account was actually a cis man named Isaiah Hickland.

According to PAPER Magazine, the account was made in 2015 as @MadBlackThot to vent while Hickland attended Texas State University. As the account grew more and more by gaining followers by the day, he dealt with the questions surrounding his true identity by revealing himself to be a woman named “Nicole.”

Now I understand wanting to stay anonymous on the internet, especially when it comes to Twitter. With the ever-expanding influence of social media on everyday life, it’s easy to see why someone would want to make a separate anonymous account, so they can be able to say what they want to say without any serious repercussions.

It’s always someone’s nightmare to be called into his/her boss’s office and confronted about a tweet or post they made online and losing his/her job over it.

However, this isn’t a case of a simple burner account of a person that just wanted to blow off some steam through the Internet. Hickland had amassed a great following through masquerading as black woman.

Now some may think that is harmless and that it isn’t that big of a deal. I disagree. I think it is crazy how he wholeheartedly thought doing something like that was OK. He knew what he was doing as well. He knew that many of his followers were black women. So, he used that fact to be able to amass even more followers by being “Nicole.”

Hickland even went as far as to claim that he [Nicole] suffered from endometriosis (EMT). I understand the impact that EMT has had on black artists, such as Normani and Lil Nas X. However, EBT would sometimes tweet out that she needed some extra money to make ends meet and would put her Cash App in her profile. People actually sent him money because they thought that they were supporting a struggling black woman.

It seems like Hickland wanted to jumpstart a career with this identity reveal. However, when his followers discovered the truth, his follower count cascaded throughout the day until the account was deactivated that evening.

It’s always nice to have an online voice to spread positivity.

But you still need to be mindful of the fact that not everything is as it seems to be.

Is the black community too forgiving?

Lindsay Keener | Staff Writer

When I think of the Black community, my community, I am often reminded of our resilience, fortitude and endurance. I am also painfully aware that these collective character traits were not sparked by a sudden jolt of strength, but a need to survive. 

Survival is not the prerequisite to struggle, it is the consequence. The existence of black people in America begins with the stories of slaves, manipulated into complying with the requests of their slave masters.

Thousands of abused men, women and children were forced to remain in a place of pain in fear of physical torture, separation from family or death.

Hampton University junior nursing major Amber Wynne strongly believes that the relationship between slavery and religion has played an instrumental role in the concept of black forgiveness.

“We were given Christianity by white men during slavery,” Wynne said. 

“Christianity teaches that we will not reach the kingdom of heaven if we do not learn to forgive. This concept has been ingrained within us. As a
community we tend to forgive very quickly because it is ‘the Christian thing to do.’ We have been trained to do so because of a concept that was created by the oppressors who controlled us.”

As with most traumatic instances, the negative effects last much longer than we would like to think. The psychological manipulation black people regularly face did not end with the eradication of slavery but has carried over into modern-day history.

In the wake of the death of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black man killed by a white police officer when
she was off-duty, it has become increasingly clear that the tale of race relations in the United States is far from perfect. The murder trial for Amber Guyger has gotten high media traffic following hugs given to Guyger from Jean’s family and Judge Tammy Kemp, who sentenced Guyger to 10 years in prison.

Both displays of affection sparked tension. HU junior Austin Sams had different responses to each embrace. “When I saw the family, specifically the
brother of Botham Jean, I understood that might have been the best way for them to cope with this tragedy, taking a posture of forgiveness,” Sams said.

“However, when I saw the judge embrace Amber Guyger, I felt as though it was inappropriate. Although I’m sure her emotional connection to this case, and even Guyger, got the best of her. I believe her responsibility is to conduct the business in her courtroom and try her best to deliver justice for the victim and her family.”

To say I was surprised by the level of empathy given to Guyger would be a lie. I have come to notice that in most cases surrounding racism in the United States, there are often three common responses: complete outrage, a need to forgive the person who carried out a wrong against a community or indifference.

These responses are usually short-lived. The anger lasts for a moment until there is a new topic of focus. The forgiveness subsides. And the level of indifference changes depending on the next transgression that occurs. In short, it is a cycle with
no end in sight.

HU senior Destany Manns thinks forgiveness says more about the oppressed rather than the oppressor.

“It’s important to forgive anyone who has wronged you,” Manns said. “It shows a sign of maturity and strength.”

It can be quite hard to determine if a community is too forgiving, as it is all up to one’s circumstances and opinions there is no definite answer. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as being too forgiving, but I do believe you can forgive someone while still having the expectation that they receive a punishment for their wrong doings,” Sams said.

What does it mean to be forgiving? Are black people too forgiving? I can’t say I’m sure.

However, forgiveness is based on one’s personal experiences. And as much as I admire my community’s resilience, fortitude and endurance, it will not do us any good in the long run.